The Baker School football team (9-0) will play Blountstown (9-0) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Tommy Oliver in Panama City for the Sunshine State North Florida Championship.
BAKER — Coach Matt Brunson and the Baker Gators are just one win from a fourth straight undefeated regular season.
Let that sink in. Sit with it for a minute. Respect the dominance.
Baker hasn’t dropped a regular season game since Nov. 6, 2015, a 55-39 loss to Liberty County on the road in Bristol; the Gators finished that year 9-4, advancing to the 1A state semifinals.
Between then and now, Brunson and Co. have won 38 straight regular season games, made four Final Fours and two state title games. The résumé speaks for itself.
And now Baker (9-0 overall) can add a Sunshine State North Florida Championship to it with a win against Blountstown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Tommy Oliver in Panama City, further strengthening its standing as the top-ranked 1A program in the state.
There is one small hiccup, though. The Tigers are undefeated, too, boasting a similar 9-0 record and a No. 3 ranking in the FHSAA RPI rankings. The two teams haven’t met since the 2017 postseason, but that game didn’t go the Gators’ way, falling 41-21 in the state semifinals.
This year’s Blountstown team is just as dominant. The Tigers have outscored opponents 362-58 and they’ve pitched three shutouts. This past week, they bounced Vernon from the North Florida Championship bracket with a 42-13 victory; Blountstown rushed for 238 yards and five touchdowns and forced two turnovers.
For the season, the Tigers have averaged 275.1 rushing yards game, most of it coming on the legs of Treven Smith. The senior has carried the ball just 78 times this year, but he has 1,005 rushing yards — good for 12.9 yards per carry — and 13 rushing touchdowns. Fellow senior Alex Valdez has also chipped in 594 yards and eight scores.
Besides allowing 6.4 points per game, the Blountstown defense has racked up 12 sacks, 45 tackles for loss, 13 fumble recoveries and five interceptions.
It could be argued, however, the Gators have a counter for everything the Tigers might throw at them.
Coming off both a 35-0 victory against Jefferson County and a 27-21 victory against Port St. Joe in the past week, Baker is outscoring opponents 348-84 this season
Behind its Wing-T offense, Baker’s ground attack is averaging 378 yards and 4.7 touchdowns per game. Junior Joe Brunson’s 1,778 rushing yards (9.7 yards per carry) and 19 total touchdowns lead the Gators, who’ve also gotten a ridiculous 17.6 yards per carry from Jackson Adams en route to 15 total scores.
Defensively, the Gators have forced 23 turnovers (12 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries) with 13 sacks and 52 tackles for loss, limiting opponents to just 9.3 points per game.