CHIPLEY — It was a team effort Thursday night for the Baker School football team as the Gators took on Chipley in their spring football game.
Four different Baker players scored a touchdown and Malcolm Griffith kicked a 33-yard field goal in a 32-22 win.
“I felt like up front we won the battle in the trenches,” Baker coach Matt Brunson said. “And like I’ve said all along, I think they’ve bought into the system.
“They’ve gotten strong enough where I felt like our offensive line knocked some big holes in there.”
Griffith’s field goal with 7:36 left in the first quarter gave Baker a 3-0 lead.
The Gators trailed 6-3 late in the second quarter, but a 9-yard touchdown run by Dillon Nixon and a 2-point conversion by Austin Davis put the Gators in front 11-6.
Baker led the rest of the way as D.J Thomas, Kodi Nixon and Richard Stroheker scored second-half touchdowns and respective starting squads took over in the second half.
The Gator offense was at its physical best in the second half.
Baker scored on drives of 13 plays covering 60 yards, 12 plays covering 70 yards and seven plays for 70 yards.
Thomas put the Gator starters on the board first with a 3-yard reception from Jon Beck to cap the 13-play, 60-yard drive. Griffith added the extra point and as Baker extended the lead to 18-6.
While the Gators were grinding it out with a ball-control offense the Tigers used tailback Kobe McCrary for a fast-break attack.
McCrary responded to the Baker touchdown with the first of his two 70-yard touchdown runs.
A 6-yard touchdown pass from Beck to Kodi Nixon finished off Baker’s drive that covered 70 yards on 12 plays.
Once again McCrary took it to the house for the Tigers in response to the Baker score.
Stroheker scored the game’s final touchdown on a 16-yard run with 7:37 left in the fourth quarter. A 37-yard pass from Beck to Josh Long set up the Stroheker score.
Thomas led the Gator rushers with 77 yards on 14 carries. Stroheker had 37 yards on seven carries. Beck was 5-of-9 passing for 75 yards.
Thomas was quick to praise the guys up front for the success of the Baker running game.
“We’ve got so many weapons everywhere on the field and that’s what happens when you have a beautiful A1 line like we do,” he said. “If you have a good line you can throw anybody back there and know they are going to get three yards a carry.”
About the only complaint Brunson had before having a chance to look at the game film was the trouble the Gators had tackling McCrary. But even Brunson had to admit that big back, who will probably be one of the more heavily recruited prospects in Northwest Florida, will make a lot of people look bad.
Brunson said the win was a nice way to end a good spring.
“Any time you compete you want to win if they are keeping score,” he said. “Overall our guys have worked hard and they reaped the rewards tonight of the hard work they’ve put in by playing well. And I do feel like our guys played well.”
Thomas said the win will make the upcoming off season program a little more enjoyable.
“Last year we lost to them (in the spring game) and everybody was kind of down about it,” he said.”But this year we are going to have our confidence and everybody is going to be, ‘OK, we battled with Chipley and we beat them this time and it feels good.’
“But we can’t get too cocky because we’ve got a long way to go conditioning wise. We’ve got a lot of people stepping up so it’s going to be a good thing.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.