WEWAHITCHKA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Wewahitchka Gators football team isn't taking anything for granted this season.
From Hurricane Michael, which damaged the press box and tossed a section of bleachers, to the death of Jonathan Foster in the spring, to the more typical challenges facing a 1A football team, the Gators have faced just about everything during the tenure of second year head coach Bobby Johns.
They've overcome them all so far, and hope to continue that trend in their first playoff game under Johns Friday night at Jefferson.
The Gators and Tigers enter with 5-4 records, although Jefferson hosts as the three seed in the region.
The team e team set a preseason goal of hosting a playoff game. That won't happen, at least not right away. However, it's just the third five win season for the program in 13 years, so they aren't taking any opportunities for granted.
"It's huge," Johns said. "To go from 3-7 to having a chance to go play a playoff game, and if you win, maybe get a chance to host depending on what happens in the other game that's being played that night...it's really big for our community."
It's a point of pride for the town and the team equally, even on the road,
"We've got a pep bus that's going over with cheerleaders, band, all that type of stuff are going to make the trip. It's a good experience for a school that hasn't had that chance in a few years."
Included on the list of post-hurricane struggles for all teams in the region is accessing game film. Some coaches in fact have been forced to revert back fifty years to the days of pen, paper, and chalkboards to teach their team. As for the Gators...it feels like they've settled back into the days of dial up.
"We're very lucky. We happen to have internet here at the field house and nobody else on campus has it," Johns added. "It's kind of slow, but it's better than what anybody else has got. The difference is the kids normally have been able to watch a lot of film on their own and through this situation they were not able to do that, so we've had to do a lot more together than we normally do."
Kickoff is set for 7:30 Eastern. The winner plays the victor of No. 7 Franklin at No. 2 Sneads.