After sneaking on to the Region 1-7A bracket, Crestview (5-5) is ready for a tough road matchup with top-seeded Edgewater (9-1).
CRESTVIEW — The postseason has arrived in Crestview for the fourth straight year. That’s the good news.
The bad news?
Well, the playoffs aren’t coming to Jack Foster Stadium. After securing the eighth and final seed in Region 1-7A, the Bulldogs are bound for the road and set for a matchup with top-seeded Edgewater (9-1overall) at 6:30 p.m. CST Friday in Orlando. The 404-mile trip covers just 15 fewer miles than the Bulldogs’ trip to play Armwood in the Final Four a year ago.
And the Eagles look to be just as tough of an opponent, Crestview coach Tim Hatten said.
“They’ve got third- or fourth-round talent for sure,” he said. “They have Armwood’s talent. They’re that kind of team. If we can beat this team, we’d be a legit contender for the Region 1 title.”
And maybe more, considering Armwood advanced to the 6A title game a year ago after beating the Dawgs (5-5) in the state semifinals, but that’s putting the cart before the horse. Edgewater is Crestview’s top priority.
Boasting the 16th best RPI in the state, the Eagles outscored their opponents 460-150 during the regular season and didn’t lose a home game.
Like Crestview, Edgewater has postseason experience, too, advancing all the way to the 7A Final Four where it fell to state champion Lakeland, 56-21. The performance made Eagles coach Cameron Duke one of seven finalists for the opening at Niceville earlier this year, which went to Grant Thompson.
“They’re program’s kind of an upstart program the last few years,” Hatten said. “(Coach Duke) has done a really, really good job.”
Offensively, junior quarterback Canaan Mobley paces the Tigers’ attack with 1,754 passing yards and 22 touchdowns against just three interceptions. His top-two targets, juniors Christian Leary and Tommi Hill have both hauled in six touchdowns receptions and average 26.4 and 24.1 yards per catch, respectively. Running back Isaiah Connelly balances the offense, averaging 7.2 yards per carry and 140.3 yards per game with 12 rushing scores.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are scuttling as of late. After winning four in a row, Crestview lost its final two regular season games against Navarre and Madison County by a combined 86-27. The Bulldogs turned the ball over five times in each game.
“We look at film and they’re a really, really good football team,” Hatten said. “We cannot turn the ball over. We can’t afford two turnovers, much less five. We gotta play solid, we can’t bust coverages. We just gotta play really good football against a really good team.”
That said, Hatten has seen improvement over the past two days of practice, calling them the “two of the best days we’ve had in a long time,” and the Bulldogs have playmakers of their own.
Senior running back Taylor Scarbrough has accounted for 1,458 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns on the season, including 179 yards this past week against Madison County.
And junior Marquis McCoy has proven similarly adept at making the big plays, racking up 1,035 total yards and nine total touchdowns.
Both will be key Friday, but winning simply comes down to executing, Hatten said.
“We just gotta do what we do,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been doing for four years. We gotta make passes to open people and let it go when we’re supposed to let it go.”