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South Walton and Port St. Joe to meet Friday in our Game of the Week

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 9:28 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -It should be a very good one down in Port St. Joe come Friday night. That match up our Game of the Week, South Walton at Port St. Joe.

Coach Phil Tisa and his Seahawks will be taking a 4-1 record east with them Friday as they travel to take on the Sharks. South Walton in the 4A class, St. Joe in 1-A, but again nobody thinks playing St. Joe is “playing down”. Heck the Seahawks lone loss was to another 1A powerhouse Baker. South Walton rebounding nicely from that with successive wins over Bay at home, and Marianna on the road.

“You know that was a big win the other night with Marianna.” Coach Tisa told me via Zoom this week. “Especially coming from behind, being two touchdowns behind. You know it showed that we could handle a little adversity. And I think that’s a big step considering this is the start of a three game road trip and preparations for the playoffs.”

And don’t for a second think just because South Walton plays in three classes higher than St. Joe’s 1A class, that this is anything close to “playing down”.

“Just because they’re 1A,” Tisa says “you know, some of those schools could be on the larger side. Some on the smaller side. But they’re perennial powerhouses. They’ve got football and it’s a good challenge.”

And for the Sharks, well they’ve never been concerned in the recent past about playing teams from larger classes. This season they already have two wins over 4A teams, Marianna and Rutherford.

“I think it’s a good test for our guys, we can see where we match up.” St. Joe head coach Tanner Jones told me. “I think South Walton is a great team. I think they do some great things on offense. I think they got some guys that just hussle. Again there’s a lot positives in us playing them. I don’t care what level they are, 1A, 2A, 8A, it doesn’t matter. We’re gonna get a good game, a good competitive game. And that’s what we need at this point of the season. "

And perhaps the most interesting aspect of this game will be to watch South Walton’s high flying offense, which is scoring 40 per game, led by quarterback Kemper Hodges, and receivers Cade Roberts and Pearce Spurlin, take on a St. Joe defense that has not allowed a single point in their four wins. The only points the Sharks have given up this season is a safety.

“Oh my gosh, we’ve been watching film on them. Calling other coaches and talking, and I’ve yet to talk to one coach that doesn’t have a positive thing about them. They execute very well. They’ve got some great playmakers, Cade (Roberts) and Pearce Spurlin. And then of course the quarterback, Kemper (Hodges), he’s a stud. I’ve talked to coach Tisa a little bit and I always kind of tell him, ‘he’s a dude!’ So I’m excited to get to play against them.” ‘

That game set for 7:30 eastern at Sharks Field, and is one of several we’ll feature on Friday Night Overtime.

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