If ever there was an opportunity for two solid Class 1A schools to look ahead to key games next week it is embodied by the Bozeman at Liberty County matchup. Kickoff is 7 p.m. CDT Friday in Bristol.
Other games featuring county schools include Bay at Suwannee, 6:30 p.m. in Live Oak and Arnold at Satellite, 6:30 p.m. in Satellite Beach. Mosley and Rutherford are idle.
Bozeman, 4-1, was able to catch its breath with an open week and scheme for the big push that starts Friday, but really is heightened next week. The Bucks will host Chipley then in a key District 3-1A encounter.
Liberty County, 4-2, hasn’t lost to a 1A school this season and won its third straight when it handled West Gadsden last Friday. The Bulldogs have a prime 4-1A matchup next week, however, against Blountstown.
“Both of us are in the same boat,” Bozeman coach Loren Tillman acknowledged. “If we do anything maybe we’ll throw a little something extra in there, maybe don’t show something. This is more for district opponents we’ll face down the road.
“We understand the ballgame Friday is not the same as the ballgame next Friday, but you want to play well. That said, if you’ve got to rest somebody you rest them. If you want to get somebody some touches in a game situation you’re going to do that this week.”
Despite what could be termed a two-week window for the matchup, Tillman is expecting “a pretty good high school football game” in Bristol. Liberty County features multi-talented Alex Marlowe on both sides of the ball, but has become two-dimensional with the addition of quarterback Dustin Watson.
“They’ve got more than Marlowe, their defense I really like,” Tillman said. “They bring so many kids and are hard-nosed getting after it. He probably stirs it for them, though.”
Marlowe could be good preparation for Bozeman, which will face Chipley’s explosive running back Kobe McCrary next week. Tillman said that the Bucks similarly could mirror some of Blountstown’s strengths for Liberty County.
“We’ve spent most of the week refocusing, making sure mentally and physically we understand what the next five weeks could mean to our school and our community,” Tillman said. “This is a good time to see a good team.”
Bay 2-3 at Suwannee 2-3
Bay and Suwannee match 2-3 records and mini losing streaks Friday in Live Oak. The Tornadoes are attempting to stop a three-game skid and the Bulldogs have lost two straight starting with a defeat to Rutherford.
The biggest news for Bay is the return of tailback Telvion Malone-Boyd, who was lost with a left knee injury late in the first quarter of the second game of the season. He already had rushed for 282 yards and a 6.0 average this season.
“He worked so hard, he’s way ahead of schedule,” Bay coach Jimmy Longerbeam said, terming the injury a torn posterior cruciate ligament. “He’ll have a knee brace, but his left leg is just as strong.
“He looks great, he really does. He’s a big boost for us not just on offense, but leadership. He’s a guy that kind of makes it all happen.”
Both Bay and Suwannee like to dominate an opponent with their running attacks. The Tornadoes feature a power game with the Bulldogs option-oriented. Bay’s staff got to see them in action in a 54-0 loss to powerful Godby last week as the Tornadoes were idle. Longerbeam noted that the score was 6-0 midway through the second quarter before turnovers helped produce a rout.
“We’ve got everybody healthy now for the first time in awhile,” Longerbeam said of his squad. In addition to Malone-Boyd, running back/defensive back Travian Turrell has had the protective cast removed from his wrist.
“We’ve had two good weeks. We just need to go back to fundamentals and get better.”
Arnold 2-3 at Satellite 1-4
The first order of business for Arnold was experiencing a lengthy bus trip to Satellite Beach. The Marlins, fresh from a 10-7 district win over Rutherford, left Thursday afternoon to meet that challenge. They expected to spend the night in Orlando, before taking the final leg of the trip today.
Optimism from last week’s district triumph was tempered somewhat, Arnold coach James Hale said, by illness and injury this week.
“I thought our defense played really well, I was pleased with the mindset of the kids,” Hale said. “Our total effort offensively and defensively, I though we played about as hard as we could.
“We have a lot of people sick. We didn’t have a very good week of practice because there was not a lot of people there.”
Hale said that offensive linemen Hunter Murray and Alex McKinney have been limited by sickness, as has Trey Auton. Dylan Cox is nursing an ankle injury.
Satellite has produced 45 points in five games, including a combined 13 the past three weeks.
“Their defense is really good, the inside linebackers are the two best we’ve seen. People have a hard time moving the football on them,” Hale said. “They threw 29 passes the last two games and completed only four, so I’m hoping our defense can step up and the kicking game be strong.”
Rocky Bayou plays at what appears to be a rejuvenated Port St. Joe (3-2) program. Sneads (2-3) has lost three straight and plays at Baker (3-2). Graceville (3-2) looks to continue its upswing when it hosts winless South Walton, Holmes County (4-1) plays at Vernon (1-4), Cottondale (3-2) is at Jay, Franklin County (1-5) makes a road trip to face Bell, Wewahitchka (1-5) entertains John Paul II and in what could be one of the more livelier matchups of the week Blountstown (4-1) takes a four-game winning streak to Marianna (5-1) which lost for the first time last Friday.