Week 1, Holmes County: By all accounts, the Gators’ season-opening 42-0 victory against the Blue Devils was a telling start to another dominant season, pouring on 34 points before the halftime whistle. Junior McLaughlin ran for 130 yards and two scores; Derek Peoples had three carries for 115 yards and a score, and Trey Kolmetz recovered a pair of fumbles.
Week 2, Vernon: A precursor to the Region 1-1A championship game, the Yellowjackets gave Baker its toughest test of the season. The Gators led only 7-6 at the half, their special teams unit holding strong on two-point conversion with three minutes to play in the second. McLaughlin and Peoples each had a second-half rushing touchdown to win 19-6.
Week 3, Joshua Christian Academy: Playing out of Jacksonville, Joshua Christian elected not to make the trip to Okaloosa County and forfeited the game.
Week 4, Rutherford: Fans can look back on this 36-14 victory against the Rams as McLaughlin’s first game of the season with more than 200 rushing yards. The senior totaled 227 yards and three scores on only 22 carries. The Gator defense also racked up seven sacks and a fumble recovery.
Week 5, Rocky Bayou: Fans can look back on this 42-7 victory against the Knights as the night McLaughlin needed only eight carries to reach 217 yards and four touchdowns.
Week 6, Jay: The War on Highway 4 seemed a war of attrition in the first half, as Baker led only 7-0 at the break before breaking out for 28 third-quarter points in a 35-0 victory against the Royals. McLaughlin reached 200 rushing yards for the third straight game, scoring four total touchdowns.
Week 7, South Walton: Playing up three weight classes, the Gators needed an extra burst of energy, and they got it from — who else? — Junior McLaughlin. The senior exploded for 384 rushing yards and four scores on 23 carries in Baker’s 40-19 victory against the Seahawks.
Week 8, Chipley: The game was canceled due to complications from Hurricane Michael.
Week 9, Northview: A quiet night by Baker standards, the Gators topped the Chiefs 35-7 behind three forced turnovers and three scores from McLaughlin.
Week 10, Bye: The Gators took a quick break.
Week 11, Graceville: In their regular-season finale, the Gators secured a third straight undefeated regular season with a 47-0 victory against the Tigers.
Week 12, Freeport: The Gators opened their playoff run with a cross-county opponent and quickly ushered the Bulldogs out of the big dance with a 49-21 victory. McLaughlin ran for 284 yards and four scores.
Week 13, Northview: The Chiefs surprisingly led 7-6 after the first, but thoughts of an upset were quickly quashed by a defense that forced seven turnovers — three by Peoples — and the trampling legs of McLaughlin, who ran for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-14 victory.
Week 14, Vernon: Billed as one of the few teams who could potentially challenge Baker in Region 1, Vernon held up its end of the bargain to set up a region final rematch. McLaughlin again proved too dynamic to handle, running for 290 yards and three touchdowns, while Peoples, Eric McQueen and Carter Mason each hauled in an interception on defense. Baker won 51-19.
Week 15, Port St. Joe: The Gators’ fourth straight Final Four appearance was no contest. Baker led 34-14 at half and held off the Sharks’ second-half comeback to win 48-27 and set a date with Madison County in the 1A state championship game. Running out of the wildcat, McLaughlin racked up 241 rushing yards and four scores.