CRESTVIEW — Fresh off breaking a four-game losing streak with a 27-24 win over Choctawhatchee, the Crestview football team returns home Friday night in another big District 2-6A game against Navarre.
Kickoff for the game at Jack Foster Stadium between the Bulldogs and Raiders is 7 p.m.
There were several reasons Crestview Coach Kevin Pettis was happy to pull out a victory over the Indians.
“It’s more like getting a gorilla off your back instead of a monkey,” he said. “Like I told the team after the game, I never thought 3-4 would feel so good and it does because it puts us back in the hunt for a district championship and you know we control our own destiny.
“The way the math works out is we are all (Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Choctawhatchee, Navarre and Niceville) going to be in it (the district race) to the bitter end, except maybe Mosley, and they could play spoiler. So every game is going to be a big game for us. As a coach, that’s all that you want at the end of the season. You are playing for a district championship or a playoff berth and you are giving yourself a chance.
“Controlling their own destiny” referenced that the Bulldogs can assure themselves of a spot in the playoffs with a win this week against the Raiders and by beating Mosley and Niceville to close out the season.
While the win over the Indians was big for Crestview (3-4, 1-1), it won’t mean much if the Bulldogs don’t win Friday.
“If we don’t take care of business, this week we are going to need some help down the road,” Pettis said. “Our mentality this week is just to do what we do and control our own destiny. The worst thing as a coach is to have to rely on another team to help you get into the playoffs. You want to be able to do it yourself.”
Navarre (5-1, 2-0) is under the command of first-year coach Jay Walls, who, like Pettis, is a Rutherford graduate.
“Navarre’s got a good football (team) and Coach Walls and them do a good job.” Pettis said. “We are going to have to bring our A game if we want to win.
“They are burning it up right now so I’m sure they are going to bring a big crowd. We will have a big crowd so it will be a playoff-type atmosphere.”
The Raiders run a spread offense that features tight end/wide receiver Jordan Leggett. The 6-foot-6 Leggett isn’t Navarre’s only weapon.
Pettis said quarterback Andrew Rieves and running back Jay Warren are very capable players as well.
Defensively, the Raiders run a 3-3-stack defense and could put eight men in the box to try to shut down Micah Reed and the Bulldog running attack.
Pettis said Crestview quarterback Dakota Davis will need to step up to keep Navarre from concentrating strictly on the Bulldog running game.
The Bulldogs overcame two turnovers against Choctaw that led to a pair of Indian touchdowns. Pettis hopes the lessons learned against the Indians will help them down the stretch.
“A lot of times, a team would just give up and we didn’t,” he said. “We fought through adversity — and you need wins like that. You need wars that you win because we’ve lost a lot of close ones and we needed a close one that we won just for the mindset of the kids.”
It has been more than a month since the Bulldogs won at home, and Pettis said it is important for them to reestablish a home-field advantage.
“I think home field is so huge,” he said. We’ve lost some games here at home, which I’m not used to doing, so our guys have really got to understand that you don’t lose at home. You’ve got to have the home field advantage and the crowd has got to get into it….
“It’s about confidence going into the next few weeks. We’ve got to establish that you can’t come into the Jack (Foster Stadium) and win. We’ve got to get that killer instinct about us when we are at home.”