With four state championships to its credit, Baker Schoolís football team has as many titles as the other Okaloosa County schools combined. But in recent years, the Gator program has fallen on what many would consider hard times.
With four state championships to its credit, Baker Schoolís football team has as many titles as the other Okaloosa County schools combined.
But in recent years, the Gator program has fallen on what many would consider hard times.
Baker won the last of the four championships in 1993. The Gators won their last playoff game in 2001 and last made the playoffs in 2008.
Yes, there has been a bit of a drought for the proud team.
Things have been looking up recent years. Three years ago, former Gator standout Matt Brunson was named Bakerís head football coach after 10 years as the Crestview High School head coach.
Brunson's first two teams turned in winning records going 7-3 and 6-4. The back-to-back winning seasons were the first at Baker in close to a decade.
The Gators are off to another strong start this year, winning their first three games by a combined score of 132-54.
Baker routed an outmanned Holmes County team 55-6 on Friday and the game wasn't as close as the score indicated.
It might be early in the season, but talk is starting to turn toward Baker's Nov. 1 trip to Northview and an 8-0 Gator team taking on the defending state champion Chiefs for the District 1-1A title.
The Gators are off this week before going on the road Sept. 27 to play Rocky Bayou Christian.
The Gators follow their trip to Rocky Bayou with a trip to Freeport for the district opener. After the Freeport game, Baker heads to North Bay Academy on Oct. 11 before returning home for the War of Highway 4 against rival Jay.
The Gators will honor members of the 1983 and 1993 state championship teams the night of the Jay game.
Franklin County follows Jay on the Baker schedule, setting the stage for the big battle at Northview. The Gators close out the regular season at home against South Walton on Nov. 8.
A lot can happen in the next six weeks, but there is no reason to believe this Baker squad isn't capable of running the table heading into the Northview game. In fact, while I know coaches don't like to talk playoffs too early, I'll be surprised if the Gators aren't 8-0 when they face the Chiefs.
Senior tailback D.J. Thomas has been almost unstoppable in the first three games, having scored eight touchdowns and run for more than 580 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Jon Beck is quickly coming into his own as a passing threat, which opens up holes for Thomas and the other Gator running backs.
Defensively, the Gators are rock solid. If they are suspect on defense it might be in the secondary, where teams with great speed might give them trouble, but Baker won't see that kind of speed until Nov. 1.
Anything can happen in the next six or seven weeks, but there is reason for Gator fans to be optimistic.
Time will tell if the 3-0 start propels the Gators to the playoffs, but if I was a betting man my money would be on the Gators.
The talent and time is right for Baker to make another run at, and deep into, the playoffs.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletinís sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.