CRESTVIEW – A struggling Crestview football team can turn things around Friday night when the Bulldogs host Okaloosa County rival Fort Walton Beach in their District 2-6A opener.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Jack Foster Stadium.
The Bulldogs beat the Vikings 13-9 last year.
Crestview (2-3, 0-0) is coming off a 49-14 loss to Tallahassee Godby and has lost its last three games.
Bulldog offensive coordinator Thomas Grant knows the recent struggles will quickly be forgotten if the Bulldogs turn things around in district play.
“This week we start district week, so in my mind, whether we were 5-0 or 0-5, these are the games that will get us into the playoffs,” he said. “We just have to be ready and tighten our focus down and be ready to play a good game.
“We have played good competition and I feel like our kids are battle tested. It only takes one win to get three weeks of bad tastes out of our mouths. If we can play well, I think we will be alright.”
The Vikings (4-1, 1-0), who can take a big step toward making the playoffs with a win over Crestview, have Grant’s attention — especially on defense.
“They play extremely hard,” he said. “They get 11 hats to the ball and they fly around. They are very disciplined.
“They’ve got the one kid, No. 4 (John Marvin), he’s committed to Georgia Tech, and he does a great job of filling his alley from the safety position. They are very well coached and they do what they are supposed to.”
The Viking offense reminds Grant a lot of Catholic the way it throws the ball around the field with quarterback Blake James.
“They like to spread the ball out there and use a bunch of different receivers and run a lot of screens,” he said. They are going try to get numbers out there and they are going to put the ball in their quarterback’s hands and let him make some plays. And he has made a bunch of plays for them. He does a good job of extending plays and finding open receivers downfield for big plays.”
Things might be looking up on the injury front for the Bulldogs.
Grant said sophomore running back Emmanuel Reed, who sat out last week with a foot injury suffered against Catholic, is expected to play against the Vikings as is senior safety Tyler Henderson.
“As far as I know Tyler and Emmanuel are both going to play this week,” Grant said. Emmanuel might be 50-50, but he’s going to dress out at practice and I’m almost positive he’s going to play. The same thing with Tyler, he’s a senior and he’s going to play because he’s going to gut it out.
“Tyler is the heart and soul of our defense. He’s the best player on our defense and the best defensive player in the county as far as I’m concerned. He’s everything to our defense.”
One player that won’t be returning is former Florida commit Dillan Lawson who has been dismissed from the