BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) During Thanksgiving week, only one area high school football remains in the FHSAA playoffs: the Blounstown Tigers.
The 12-0 Tigers are set to host Baker (11-1) in the 1A state semifinal Friday night, a rematch of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference North Florida Championship which BHS won 33-7 in week 11 of the regular season.
The winner this time around goes to the state championship the following Saturday in Tallahassee. Although this means working through the holiday, no high school football player or coach would ever complain about that.
"It's something football coaches strive for," head coach Beau Johnson said after Wednesday morning's practice at Bowles Field. "I saw a football coach on Twitter last night, it was his first time ever getting to practice Thanksgiving week. He was like, 'wow all those things you always said is absolutely true.' Because of the relaxation of not having your school work. You can concentrate on your football family and then get to go spend time with your family. Hunt, do things that you normally wouldn't get to fit in, and just being around each other during this week is really cool. We talked about how the town is already decorating with lights. It's just a great week for the community."
Unlike the SSAC Championship which was played in Panama City, the Tigers get the home field advantage on Friday. While Johnson has seen a high level of enthusiasm for the first two playoff games (a 34-0 win over Port St. Joe 34-0 and 27-21 victory against Taylor), he expected the Blountstown faithful to ramp it up a notch.
"It's funny, I watched the 2004 state championship game last night on YouTube, and that was the first time Blountstown had won a playoff game since '77," Johnson recalled. "Now since 2004, we've had a run of tremendous teams. So you've kind of got to make it to the final eight or final four to truly get them fired up! Like they're kind of fired up, but you've kind of got to get them to that next step to where they're really crazy. So this week is super crazy. Of course if things go well Friday night, next week will be unbelievably crazy."
Win or lose, this will be the final games at Ted Cooper Stadium for the senior class of 2020. Particularly as the players shared a Thanksgiving barbecue meal after practice Wednesday, the significance was not lost on them.
"All these boys are like my brothers," wide receiver and linebacker Brent McCrone said. "It's like another family to me. I've been with 'em since Tiny Mites and sweating with them every day."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 central. Catch pregame coverage on News Channel 7 at 5 and 6 with highlights at 10.
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