BAKER — It has been a special season for Baker School's football team.
The Gators have rolled through the season with a 9-0 record. Last week, they wrapped up the District 1-1A title with a 24-20 win over Northview, securing home field advantage in the upcoming playoffs.
Even with all their success, the Gators still have work to do as they host South Walton, 7 p.m. Friday on Senior Night, to close out the regular season.
The Seahawks are one of Northwest Florida's — and maybe the state's — surprise teams. After winning just one game in each of the last two seasons, South Walton has turned things around. The Seahawks come into the game with a 7-2 record and are the runner up from District 3-1A
"Phil Tisa (South Walton head coach) and his staff do a great job," Baker Coach Matt Brunson said. "The Ortner kid (Johnathan) — it's unbelievable what they've done with him. He throws the ball as well as anybody we've played.
"They are definitely going to throw it around, and you will have your hands full covering them and trying to pick when to bring pressure. It seems like anytime somebody blitzes them, they hit the right perfect call. I think they are doing as good of a job with the spread as anybody around here in high school football."
Brunson said that having played Northview, another spread team, last week should help the Gators prepare for the South Walton offense.
"We are just going to tweak our game a little bit," he said. "Our guys contained some very good players last Friday night at Northview."
South Walton runs a base 4-3 defense and will move into a five-man front. Brunson said the Seahawks play with good pad level and are tough up front.
Once again, the Gators will rely on senior D.J. Thomas to spark that running game. Thomas enters Friday's game with South Walton with 1,629 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns.
"We are going to do what we can to knock some holes in there and do the things that have helped us be successful this year," Brunson said. "We are going to take pride and try to be physical and if we get some guys open down the field we will definitely try a shot going play action pass. But we've got to get our running game going.
"We are going to have our hands full containing those guys. I think we've got to be kind of bend but don't break because it definitely gets tougher for the offense (because it doesn't have as much room to work) as the field gets shorter."
Brunson would like nothing more than for the Gators to finish off the perfect regular season.
"Perfect season don't come along very often," he said. "I've been a head coach 17 years and I've had one (2002 at Crestview), and I've been a part of some pretty good football teams.
"As a player, we had a couple. There are not a lot of teams that have a perfect regular season and that's definitely what our goal is Friday night."
Brunson expects an electric atmosphere Friday as a pair of playoff teams flex their muscle as they prepare for the playoffs
"I tell you what, it's two teams playing at a very high level at this point season," he said. "It's going to be a great high school football game."
WANT TO GO
What:South Walton at Baker
When:7 p.m. Friday
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.