CRESTVIEW — Admittedly, Tim Hatten felt somewhat foolish painting lines on the Jack Foster Stadium field Thursday afternoon.
They were sure to be washed away by Friday night, a tropical system set to blow in from the gulf and rain out every football game on the Emerald Coast, but The Jack had a middle school championship to host, so Hatten finished up his work under an overcast sky.
Shortly thereafter, Crestview’s football coach got word from the county: All extracurricular activities on Friday and Saturday were postponed. The Bulldogs would have to wait until 7 p.m. Monday to host Lincoln for a pivotal District 1-7A matchup.
You see, Crestview (4-3 overall, 3-1 District 1-7A) currently ranks sixth overall in Region 1-7A with a 0.586 RPI. Lincoln (5-2, 4-1) ranks fifth with a 0.634.
Considering rival Niceville (7-0, 4-0) has already beaten both the Bulldogs and the Trojans to secure a stranglehold on the district championship, a victory Monday against Lincoln would go a long way toward Crestview securing a playoff berth for the fourth straight year.
Canceling the district game was not an option.
“You gotta play ’em, “Hatten said. “You gotta play ’em.”
The Trojans are coming off back-to-back wins against their district rivals from Tallahassee, beating Chiles 26-14 and Leon 55-0. Lincoln has outscored opponents 224-96 this year, the Trojans vying for a 24th straight playoff appearance; they haven’t missed the postseason since the Clinton administration.
This year’s Trojan squad is led by a trio of Division I talents. Sage Ennis, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end prospect is verbally committed to defending nation champion Clemson. Likewise, Jalen Glaze, a 6-0, 185-pound cornerback is verbally committed to Minnesota, and Michael Please, a 6-3, 220-pound linebacker is committed to Southern Miss.
The Bulldogs, too, have star power, though most of it has yet to recognized by D1 schools. Only offensive guard Cade Kootsouradis has a Power Five scholarship offer, the senior verbally committed to Georgia Tech.
Behind him, however, is a wealth of untapped talent.
Junior Marquis McCoy, Crestview’s do-it-all playmaker, has passed for five touchdowns, run for three and caught four this year, totaling 586 all-purpose yards. Meanwhile, running back Taylor Scarbrough has already topped 1,000 rushing yards in just seven games, the senior averaging 8.3 yards per carry with 12 total touchdowns.
Both have been key in the Bulldogs’ resurgence.
After stumbling to a 1-3 start this year, the Bulldogs climbed back over .500 thanks in part to their renewed dominance in the trenches.
Crestview averaged just 86 rushing yards per game on 24.7 carries during its three-game losing streak to Escambia, Godby and Crestview. In the three games since, however, the Bulldogs have averaged 270.3 rushing yards per game on 34.3 attempts, the difference immediately recognizable on the scoreboard.
Crestview averaged just 11 points per game during its losing streak, highlighted by a 32-0 shutout loss to Escambia. Since, the Bulldogs are averaging 47.7 points per game.
“I think we’ve progressively gotten better every game that we’ve played, so we’re excited about that progress,” Hatten said after his team’s 48-7 victory against Leon.