BLOUNTSTOWN, FL (WJHG/WECP) It's just about time to begin play in the first ever Sunshine State Athletic Conference-North Florida playoff!
The Tigers take practice reps ahead of their preseason classic against North Florida Christian.
That event has 12 1A teams involved, with the top 8 competing for the title.
That top 8 includes Cottondale and Blountstown who go head to head on the latter's field Friday night. The Hornets, at 2-5, the 8 seed in the rankings, and thus will play the one seed, the 7-0 Tigers.
Coach Beau Johnson and his Blountstown team coming off a 34 point win over Bay, the third of their seven wins against an opponent from a much bigger class, that being a 5A team and two 4A teams.
So given the tough tests they've faced this season, with some of the biggest games on the road, well even the head coach is a bit surprised with the team's unblemished record to this point.
"You know when we looked at our schedule, with Marianna and Arnold early in the year." coach Johnson told me. "And of course Port St. Joe and some of those other guys, we did not expect to be 7-0 at this point. But we're glad that we are. We're excited about it. We had faith in our kids, but we just knew that with our numbers that was gonna be kind of a brutal schedule there. But we're excited, our kids have done a great job. It's a family atmosphere, they don't care who gets the credit. That part's been fun!"
As for moving into the S.S.A.C. playoff, coach Johnson is thrilled for this opportunity, given they no longer have the tradition district title to play for.
"It's exciting for our fans, and us." coach Johnson says. There's some great football teams in it. Baker is a great football team, Vernon's a great football team. Graceville, Port St. Joe, Sneads, I mean there's some great teams in it. So it's gonna be a tough road to see who gets to the championship. But it will be fun getting out there and getting after it."
And in terms of the opening game with 2-5 Cottondale, well nobody at Blountstown is going to concede that game will be a walk, even though on paper it may look like a mismatch. Certainly coach Johnson isn't about to let his guys look past the Hornets.
"Cottondale is having a down season with their record. But they've got some really good, athletic football players. And last year in the first round of the state playoffs, it was a one touchdown game at halftime. And coach (Chris) Obert's gonna do a great job. So we respect them, we respect every opponent, we're not looking ahead. We're gonna make sure we're playing our best vs. Cottondale, we owe that to our home crowd."
That game Friday set for 7.
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