It is now or never for the Crestview football team when the Bulldogs travel to Fort Walton Beach on Friday to take on Choctawhatchee in a District 2-6A game that could make or break the season.
Crestview is now 2-4 overall and 0-1 in district play, but a win against the Indians could get the season headed back in the right direction. With just one district game under their belts, the Bulldogs are still very much in a wide open district race, but a loss Friday would change all of that and send Crestview to the bottom of the pack in the district.
When the season started six weeks ago, many people — including me — considered the Bulldogs one of the area’s top teams and the team to beat in District 2-6A. However, Crestview’s current four-game losing streak has raised questions about the Bulldogs and has thus far marred what could still be a promising season.
I’ve witnessed each of the four losses from the Bulldog sidelines, but you don’t have to be up close and personal to understand what is hurting the Bulldogs. All you have to do is look in the box score and see that in the four losses, Crestview has been penalized 45 times for 332 yards. The Bulldog opponents have been flagged 24 times for 167 yards.
In other words, Crestview has given up 83 yards a game in field position — and that doesn’t count big plays that were wiped out by an untimely flag.
In Crestview’s most recent loss to Fort Walton Beach on Friday, the Bulldogs were called for 15 penalties for 135 yards while the Vikings were flagged five times for 35 yards. One of the Bulldog penalties, a holding call against a Bulldog offensive lineman in the second quarter, wiped out a 33-yard touchdown pass from Dakota Davis to Tate Sweatt.
It could be argued that the penalty was a 43-yard penalty when you add the penalty yards to the yards gained that were negated by the flag. As it turned out, the Bulldogs were unable to score and were forced to punt.
While I don’t believe one play ever cost a team a game, had the Sweatt touchdown stood, the Bulldogs probably would have won the game 24-17. I say Crestview probably would have won because I don’t have a crystal ball that allows me to see how the touchdown would have changed how the respective coaching staffs would have managed the game.
Having played the game, I understand that penalties are a part of football and that the best teams can be the most penalized. Nevertheless, when things aren’t going well, it could be argued that penalties are a sign of an undisciplined team flirting with disaster.
I still believe Crestview has the talent to win out, claim the district championship and make a long run into the playoffs.
However, unless the Bulldogs cut down on the penalties, the season could continue to be a disappointment.
Randy Dickson is the Sports Editor of the Crestview News Bulletin. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.