Arnold and Bay set to kick off the regular season head to head Thursday

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:56 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Starting Thursday we get to see the kind of progress Arnold and Bay have made between spring, summer and fall workouts. Those two go head to head in their season opener at Tommy Oliver Stadium Thursday night.,

Let’s talk about the Tornadoes first. Coach Bland and his guys coming off a tough classic road trip last Friday, falling to Enterprise 56-21. They trailed 40-0 at the half, and then rallied somewhat to win the second half 21-16. So coach Bland able to pull some good from that. Still he says, when asked about his team’s readiness for the season, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, there was some pullback after Friday!

“We took a tough one, it was a tough one last week.” says Bay head coach Keith Bland. “Going into that I was feeling around a seven. I think after that game, playing a tough Enterprise team, kind of put it back to a six. But you know that’s just kind of the way I am with those kinds of things. But really we’re still around a seven going into that first week. There’s some things we held back on, implementing and doing those things, we stay kind of basic on offense. Stayed on one defense primarily. Special teams were pretty basic. Got to execute all those phases to see how well your team can perform.

As for the Marlins, well a bit of a better taste left in their mouths after Friday’s Classic with North Bay Haven. They won that one 20-14. So I posed the same question to coach Cambell, rate your team’s readiness for this season opener, on a scale of one to ten.

“I think we’re a solid six right now, I really do.” coach Campbell replied. “I think we’ve come a long way. I think we’re so green in so many important areas that we’ve had to take our time and slow down, and work on fundamentals, make sure they’re understanding the concepts that we’re trying to teach. And keep some things as simple as possible. I feel like we’re growing each and every day as a team, as a program. We’ve got a ways to go but I feel very positive about our direction and the things are kids are doing each and every day to improve and to understand what we’ve got to do to be successful.

For Bay, coming off the tough classic last week, well getting to open the regular season in a county rivalry game is what coach Bland wants to see and he feels the kids see it that way as well!

“You know starting out the season with that rivalry game it’s easy to get the kids hyped up for it.” Bland told me. “We did prep a lot for Enterprise and what they were going to run, and their defense. So this week is a short prep week to get ready for that. The thing I’ve noticed with our athletes is they’ve already got a pep to their step, in anticipation of that big game. So it doesn’t take much to get them re-focused on what we have at hand Thursday night.”

“I think it’s cool.” adds coach Campbell. “I think it’s good for both communities. It’s good for both schools you know. I think it’s going to be a great football game. Obviously Bay is very talented. I was very impressed with their physicality last week against Enterprise. I know Enterprise is a bigger school and they didn’t do the things they wanted. But their physicality showed to me on film. They’re for real. Obviously their athleticism it’s something that we have to be concerned about. And I think everybody has got to be concerned about, with Smiley and the skill guys they’ve got I’m both sides of the ball. So again we’re just taking care of us and trying to keep moving forward. But we’re excited to play Thursday night and I think it’s going to be a great time.”

There is though some added pressure starting with a rivalry game. And then there’s always that feeling of wanting to start with a win, get one in the win column right away!

“Success always breeds success, an old coach told me that along time ago.” says coach Campbell. “So obviously the success we have Friday has put the flavor in our mouths, the taste a little bit. So that’s what we’re building on, that’s what we’ve got to do. I’m excited for them. Getting a win which ever way it is, as a win. So that helps. Obviously everybody’s ready to go.

“County games are tough.” adds coach Bland. “Anything can happen. You know when you win it helps build morale. If you lose it can demoralize you as well. So it kind of puts a coach in a tough situation, early on. For us our first two ball games our county rivalry games. So we get a lot of emotion, a lot of energy with it in the beginning of the season.”

That game Thursday at Tommy Oliver set for 7 o’clock, we’ll have the highlights Thursday night in our late news. As well as highlights of the game between Sneads and Cottondale at the latter’s field. Also Thursday, Choctaw opens at Pace.

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