CRESTVIEW — Things have finally started to click for Crestview High School’s football team, and at just the right time, as the Bulldogs host Tate in their District 1-7A opener Friday.
Game time is 7 p.m., for the event, which is also the Hall of Fame Game.
The Bulldogs started the season with a win over Milton and lost their next four games.
Crestview (3-4, 0-0) started turning things around two weeks ago with a 49-21 win over Leon. Last week, the Bulldogs came from behind to beat Pine Forest 22-14.
If Crestview can make it three straight wins, the Bulldogs are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. If they lose, they can still make the playoffs by beating Niceville and surviving a shootout.
Bulldog Coach Tim Hatten summed up what it will take for Crestview to make the playoffs.
"You have to win one of two," he said. "If you take care of your business you go into a bye week (next week) and have two weeks to prepare for the next ball club (Niceville), and regroup, and kind of go from there."
Tate enters the game with a 5-2 record. One of the losses was to District 1-7A foe Niceville. With only three teams in the district, this is a must-win game for the Aggies if they hope to make the playoffs.
Hatten said the Aggies having won five games tells you all you need to know about how good they are.
"They are 5-and-2 for a reason," he said. They are 5-and-2 because they won five ball games. And around here, winning five ball games — I don't care who you play — is a pretty tough task, and you have to respect them for that, and that alone.
"They have been on the end of the winning thing a couple of more times than we have. Granted, we lost some close ones, but we have to play hard and not make mistakes. If we do that, we will have a chance."
Hatten expects to see the Aggie defense line up in a four-man front and try to stop the run.
"They are solid and they are going to man us up (play man-to-man defense on the Bulldog receivers) and play as many people in the box as they can to defend the run — I would," he said. "We are going to have to play some of the game to figure out whether we are going to run or pass.
"We've watched enough film and we have some good ideas. We will test those ideas and see how they work out."
Tate will run a spread offense, and Hatten said the quarterback likes to pull the ball down and run with it. But if the Bulldog defenders do their job, Hatten is confident Crestview can contain the Aggies.
"We've got good defensive players and we've got a good defensive scheme," he said. "We just don't need to allow the big play. We need to make them move the ball down the field and earn it.
"We would like for it to turn into a physical match because if it does, I like our chances."
With so much at stake for both teams, Hatten believes the game will be exciting for coaches, players and spectators.
"It's a big important game," he said. "It will be a lot of fun for the kids and a lot of fun for the community and I'm looking forward to it.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.
WANT TO GO?
What: Tate at Crestview
When: 7 p.m. Friday