Freeport and Holmes prepare for early season, undefeated showdown
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Call it an early season showdown, the game set for Friday between Freeport and Holmes. We are only into the third week of the regular season, and yet this game is the only one that features a match up of unbeaten teams! Kind of crazy, but there it is. Coach Shaun Arntz and his Bulldogs are two and oh with wins over Jay and Bozeman. Both those wins coming at home. Coach Jeff Lee and his Blue Devils are two and oh with wins over North Bay Haven and Graceville. The first at home, the other on the road. Tuesday I caught up with both head coaches and talked about their team’s strong starts, as they look ahead to Friday’s showdown.
“We are real happy with the way our guys have played.” Coach Arntz told me. “We haven’t executed like we wanted to. As a matter of fact I think we have underachieved in that category. But we’ve overachieved in their attitude and effort. In every play in both games. I feel like everybody has went out there with their best effort, their best energy, and their best attitude. You cannot be dissatisfied with that as a coach, no matter what the result is.”
“A lot of the things that we always talk about in the past, where we always say ‘well we’re not there yet, we’re not there yet.’ says coach Lee. “And we haven’t said that this much this year. Because they really have bought into what we’re doing. This bunch were sophomores, the seniors were. And this freshman group as juniors, that were the first freshman class that we had. So we’ve got a good nucleus. We’ve got a good bunch of kids that have played a lot of football.”
“The execution stuff will come as the season grows.” adds coach Arntz. “So I’m glad we can hang our hat on their effort right now, instead of hanging your hat on executing. And then having to coach up effort. Because any coach will tell you you can’t coach up effort and attitude on Friday night. That’s something that our guys have to do Monday through Wednesday at practice every day.”
“I think we’re still not anywhere close to where we need to be.” coach Lee went on to say. “One, every time out, we’ve had four outings against opponents so far. And all four we seem like we’ve created new problems, or new problems have arisen from those things. Which is a good thing in my opinion. We’re not repeating the same mistakes. So we feel good where we are. We feel comfortable, we’re excited about this football team and the way they are playing.”
Now there is a backstory to Friday’s game beyond the two teams starting well. Last season these two played twice. Freeport beat Holmes in their season opener last September, 20-13. They met again in the playoffs, with the Bulldogs winning that game 44-22.
“You know ever since Coach Lee has been there we’ve had some tight games.” coach Arntz said. “I throw that one in the playoffs out the window on our end because I feel like we were peaking at the right time. It’s always been close games. They’ve come down to the last couple of minutes or less. So that’s the way were practicing this week. Every second matters, from the beginning to the end.”
“We’ve kind of had this game circled, on the date for awhile.” coach Lee told me. “Once we established that we were playing it, our guys have been wanting this game, and they are looking forward to it. And like yesterday the seniors got up and talked about that this is a big game, but it’s also our next game. And it’s the one that will get us to three and oh. And that’s the goal. Is that at the end of the night Friday night, when the two teams leave and walk off the field, of Memorial Field, someone’s going to be three and oh.”
That game set for 7 and will be one of several we’ll feature on Friday Night Overtime.’
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