Pensacola, FL--The Arnold football team is headed back home Monday night a rather disappointed bunch. The Marlins, thanks to wins over Rutherford, Bay and West Florida in recent weeks finishing 3-1 in 5A district 1 play. That left them tied with Gulf Breeze and West Florida atop that league. So those three playing a three way tiebreaker Monday, West Florida, based on best overall record, getting to host, and getting a bye into the second quarter of play. So this is Arnold and Gulf Breeze in the first playoff quarter.
Marlins with early trouble, on the first play Eddie Williams on the QB. sweep, gets some yardage, but coughed it up, recovered for the Dolphins by Xan Serra. The Marlins defense though gets it right back, the pass over the middle, picked off near the goal line by Stacy Oatis, who makes the nice return.
The Arnold offense though unable to move it on that possession. Gulf Breeze eventually works it into field goal range, and Max McDaniel with an absolute blast from 42 yards out, plenty of leg on that, Dolphins up 3-0 with about 3 minutes to go.
Marlins then work it on to the Gulf Breeze side of the field, and they take a couple of shots at the end zone first the 34 yard toss towards Oatis but he just can't bring it in.
And the final play of the quarter, too far to take a shot at a tying field goal, so Williams scrambles, then launches one towards the goal line, but neither Tristan Dickenson nor Blaine McCraine can haul it in, so the Marlins fall 3-zip in that first quarter.
The Marlins needed Gulf Breeze to go on and beat West Florida in the second quarter, which would have forced a third quarter between Arnold and West Florida, but instead, the Jaguars win that second quarter 7-0. So West Florida wins the district title, Gulf Breeze gets the runner-up berth, and Arnold sees it's playoff hopes dashed. Afterward we spoke with Arnold head coach James Hale who had this to say. "Really we actually got everything we wanted. We wanted to receive the ball on the kickoff. First play, nice run and the kid comes in, hits the ball with his helmet and the ball pops out. So that's one thing right there. They get the ball for 3 or 4 minutes and they don't score but that kind of kills our momentum right there, but our defense did a pretty good job. We move the ball down the field but just couldn't get any points. We dropped two, we had two opportunities to catch it in the end zone at the end of the game but Gulf Breeze played an outstanding football game, and it's just kind of sad knowing that you're not gonna get to go to the playoffs."
So Arnold's season will end Thursday night with a home game against Fort Walton Beach.