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Bay and Mosley set to tangle at Tommy Oliver Friday

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 10:08 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Week two of the High School Football season brings a particularly interesting match up between Bay County rivals Mosley and Bay. Those two meet at Tommy Oliver with matching one and oh records. Mosley getting that first win last week with a blowout win over Rutherford. The Dolphins winning the game 42-0, even though the game was stopped late in the first half because of lightning. Certainly the ‘fins had the numbers and talent advantage over the Rams, so the result should not have been a shock to anyone. Still the half that was played giving Mosley coach Tommy Joe Whiddon to evaluate his guys in a real game setting for the first time.

“You know I thought, as you saw, our playmakers made plays.” coach Whiddon told me via Zoom earlier this week. “I thought Cole (Horton) made some really good decisions. I thought our offensive line did a good job of being physical. Our backs ran hard. So those were some exciting things to take away from the game, on the offensive side of the ball. On defense we did a much better job of stopping the run and controlling the line of scrimmage up front. So more than anything I was just happy about our focus.”'

As for the Tornadoes, they too won with a shutout, though their 26-0 win over rival Arnold went all four quarters. Will Smiley returning the opening kick, which spurred a 26 point burst by Bay in the first half. Kenny Hutcherson carrying a big load in terms of the running game, he racked up 177 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries. So it appears Bay’s found the replacement for CJ Campbell.

“Offense, defense, special teams did, for the most part did a good job executing.” Bay Head Coach Keith Bland told me in a Zoom call Tuesday. “You know the kickoff return by Will Smiley just set the tone. You know we frequently talk about the first five minutes of each half sets a tone for the entire half. Kenny Hutcherson has been really working. You know he had an ACL injury his freshman year, so he’s really working to get back as a junior. You know Kenny did a good job of running the ball. The offense played well. Defense played, not only the first half but also the second half, very exceptional. Very proud of the defense.”

One potential problem for Bay heading towards Friday is the health of quarterback and defensive back Will Smiley. He suffered a knee injury in the win over Arnold, and was limping noticeably nearing the half of that game. Coach Bland says Smiley’s been evaluated, and did not suffer a tear in the knee, but may have to sit as a precaution come Friday.

“We want to be cautious with Will.” says coach Bland. “He’s a great athlete and not only that he’s a great competitor. You know he’s all the time saying ‘let me return kicks. Let me return punts. I want to play corner.’ So we kind of do keep him on the field a lot because he may be our best defensive back. You know with Will you almost have to, you have to be the voice of reason. You know because he such a competitor he wants to be out there and wants to compete on every play and every position.”

Coach Whiddon says he expects the Bay senior will gut it out, if all possible, for this game.

“Will Smiley is a dynamic player and can do a lot of different things. I know he got dinged up a little bit versus Arnold. But we are going into that game with the expectation that he’s going to play. I know he’s a competitor and rivalry games will bring the best out in people. So that is what our expectations are on the defensive side of the ball.”

There is another aspect to this rivalry game. And that is Bay’s assertion that this game isn’t necessarily Bay vs. Mosley. But more like Bay vs. Bay County, as some of the Tornado faithful have been saying this week, given Mosley took in players from Bay, Arnold and Rutherford this past offseason. And that includes the Dolphins starting quarterback Cole Horton, who played at Arnold last season.

“You know that is what I love about our Bay high program, is that we have Bay-zoned kids.” coach Bland told me. “They buy into the program. They are going to play hard because they know of the tradition that Bay High has. Mosley is a school that is twice our size. They’ve got a lot of great players and they seem to keep adding them. I think I watched the film last week, I don’t think a single kid scored a touchdown that was at Mosley last year. So that’s a different aspect that you have to prepare for. Because in the spring it’s a different team than what it is now.”

As for Whiddon, the rules state players can move from school to school as they see fit, as long as they aren’t actively recruited by coaches to do so. And he puts it this way, in terms of his program seeing kids from other schools coming to Mosley.

“I don’t feel like I don’t feel like we have to apologize for anything that we do in our program.” Whiddon stated. “Like you mentioned, those are the rules in the state of Florida. And it goes on in every single city across the state. You know we’re just going to run our program the way that we feel is the best way for our program to be here. And we’re going to coach the kids that are here on our roster. So I’m not going to worry about things like that. Our focus is just trying to get better every single week. And coaching up the guys that we have on our team as hard as we can. "

Mosley won this match up last season, had to forfeit a win in 19, they didn’t play in 18, the fins won in 16, and Bay’s last win in the series came in 2016. Game time Friday at 7.

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