SANTA ROSA BEACH — You already know about Baker’s 35-9 win over the South Walton Seahawks.
After all, this was the football game everyone had their eye on for the week; especially considering both teams were undefeated coming into Friday’s game and were likely to see each other again in the playoffs.
This is the story of a game influenced by temperament, a word often seen in recent weeks.
A safety, football’s version of a gut-punch, was the first score of the game and it went to South Walton. That’s where Baker’s defense displayed their temperament.
“We just needed to shut them down,” said senior defensive tackle Rashaun Smith. “All we had to do was play our zones, do everything we needed to do this weekend and we got it.”
Baker’s defense had to make their way onto the field after a lost fumble and a few turnovers-on-downs. However, the Gators forced four turnovers of their own and only allowed one touchdown in the second half; and even that was because the Seahawks started a drive with a short field on the Baker 25-yard line.
The play that resulted in that short field for South Walton was from a high snap to senior punter Josh Springle. If it weren’t for Springle keeping his cool, that play could have shifted the momentum in favor of a Seahawk team that was notable for second-half comebacks.
“They were literally inside the 10-(yard line) so anything could have happened,” said Springle, who was able to bring the ball down and get the punt away. The punt only netted 15 yards, but it could have been much worse for the Gators if the senior didn’t keep his composure.
On the other side of the ball, and the field, the Seahawks’ frustration was visible going into the second half. South Walton’s defense came into the game allowing an average of eight points per game and recording two shutouts including their game against Freeport the previous week.
On the field, phrases like “shut up!” and “what are you doing!?” could be heard from South Walton players. There was even a physical altercation between two Seahawks on the sideline in the fourth quarter; their quarterback, Austin Garofalo broke it up.
Coach Matt Brunson urged his team to stay positive when a good opposing team was expectedly going to get the better of them on occasion.
“They hit a couple of plays, which we knew they were going to do; we just have to keep playing and keep our heads up,” Brunson said.
Cooler heads prevailed on a warm fall Friday in Santa Rosa Beach, keeping the Baker Gators undefeated in their last road game of the regular season.
The Baker Gators will play Chipley Oct. 14 at home.