BAKER — Amid a 6-0 start, Matt Brunson knew the Gators were state title contenders.

The Gators' offensive line and backfield joined together for nearly 400 yards a night.

The vertical threat was maturing under quarterback Kalee Ciurleo.

The defense had held four teams to 13 or fewer points.

All of this was nice enough, the Gators vaulting to No. 2 in the Region 1-1A standings. But Friday's trip to Chipley, the No. 1 region team by fractions of a point, was the true barometer.

Judging by the 41-27 road win, a victory that could shore up home-field advantage in the first three rounds of the playoffs, Baker (7-0) is legit.


"It was a good win over an undefeated Chipley program," said Brunson, Baker's head coach. "Our guys had to play a four-quarter game and they did. I told the guys afterward, 'Now we have to finish out the regular season strong and get ready for the playoffs.' "

Three games remain, the first a Hurricane Harvey makeup game against Snook Christian Academy that shifted from Sept. 1 to Friday at 7 p.m. at Doug Griffith Memorial Stadium.

Snook Academy (4-3) is a familiar area foe, taking down Rocky Bayou 54-32 but losing 37-16 to South Walton and 42-12 to Freeport.

"They're a first-year program that's a good spread team and we can't take them lightly," Brunson said.

Against Chipley, Baker faced eight men in the box.

No worries as Baker amassed 527 yards of total offense —360 passing and 157 rushing.

Running back Junior McLaughlin had one impressive stat line, completing one pass for a 57-yard touchdown to Derek Peoples, catching two balls for 113 yards and a pair of scores and also taking 11 carries for 88 yards and another touchdown.

Quarterback Kalee Ciurleo completed 10 of 13 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. Peoples caught five passes for 144 yards and two scores, Ethan Garrett had two receptions for 85 yards and a TD, while Jalen Ciurleo had two receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown and 89 yards rushing and a TD.

This is the juggernaut that is Baker's offense, possessing a backfield with three nightly 100-yard threats and a quarterback who can throw the vertical ball.

"Kalee isn't 100 percent yet, but in a way his immobility has been good because he's forced to throw," Brunson said of Kalee's ankle injury. "He's excelled there."

Meanwhile the defense just continues to stifle the run and bends but never seems to break in allowing just 16 points per game.

"They just continue to make plays," Brunson said.