BAKER — The Baker football team faces its season’s toughest challenge Friday night as the Gators host District 1-1A leader Northview in a 7p.m. game at Doug Griffith Memorial Stadium.
Playoff implications will be on the line as well.
If Baker beats Northview and if Jay can upset Freeport, the Gators will win the district championship.
If both Baker and Freeport win then Baker, Freeport and Northview will face off in a shootout to determine the district champs and runner. If Baker and Freeport lose, Baker, Jay and Freeport will meet in a shootout to determine second place in the district.
Baker coach Matt Brunson said it is important to be in a position to make the playoffs as the season winds down.
“All you can ask is to be playing Week 10 and have a shot at the playoffs,” he said. “We have done that so we will see what happens.”
If the Gators are to punch their ticket to the playoffs with a win, they will do so against a Northview team (6-2, 2-0) that is one of the most explosive teams in the state in Class 1A football, averaging 43.5 points.
Only twice this year — in a 34-7 win over Walton and a 44-20 loss to Gulf Breeze — has Northview scored less than 40 points. The Chiefs outscored Jay and Freeport 104-14 in their two district wins.
Northview blanked Baker 34-0 last year and Brunson said the Chiefs would again present all several matchup problems for the Baker defense.
“They just have tall, athletic receivers that are rangy,” he said. “The quarterback will move the ball around and they catch it and make plays.
“We are going to be very challenged to cover them. And then, once they make a catch or two, we will be challenged to get them on the ground.”
When the Chiefs aren’t throwing the ball, they are equally adept at running it out of a variety of formations, Brunson said.
“Either way (passing or running), they are very explosive because the guys they are throwing it to or handing it to are very athletic,” he said.
The Chief defense has shut out three opponents and is holding the opposition to 17.75 points a game.
Northview runs a 4-4 stack defense and Brunson hopes the Gators can move the ball on the Chiefs.
“We have a chance — if we play well offensively and score every time we have it and protect the ball and keep it away from them,” he said. “Our best defense might be to keep their offense off the field. They’ve got some guys that are good sized and fly to the ball, but we should be able to create some running lanes in there.”
The Gators, who are coming off an open date, beat Jay 48-21 on Oct. 19. Brunson said Baker played its best football of the season in the second half against the Royals.
Brunson hopes the momentum from the win over Jay, coupled with the open week, will work in Baker’s favor against the Chiefs.
“We tried to fine tune some things and add a couple of things for Northview,” he said. “I think we played our best football that we have played all year in the second half against Jay.
“Our guys have continued to improve and worked hard, so we will see what happens Friday.”