Three of the games are rematches, and one of those was a season opener.
Only Cottondale, which ventures west to face a powerful Bratt Northview team is playing an unfamiliar opponent Friday as the Class 1A playoffs begin featuring six area schools.
Bozeman, which fell to Liberty County 27-18 one month ago, travels again to Bristol to face the Bulldogs. Blountstown, which was shut out by Holmes County 20-0 on Aug. 31, journeys to Bonifay for their first-round game and Graceville, a 27-7 loser to Freeport on Sept. 28, will host the Bulldogs.
All games are 7:30 p.m. local time. The FHSAA has set an $8 charge for spectators.
Opposing coaches Loren Tillman of Bozeman (8-2) and Grant Grantham of Liberty County (8-2) mostly are discounting the previous meeting of their teams. That’s not to say that tape hasn’t been been watched and rewatched, but not all of the variables remain the same.
“The biggest thing I take out of that is me and Coach Grantham had big ballgames the next week,” Tillman began. “He sat out a couple of players he needed to get healthy.
“We didn’t show a lot, and I just think it’s going to be a little bit different ballgame. They have some different players, and we will run some things we didn’t that night.”
The 18 points scored by the Bucks represents their lowest total in 10 games.
“They’re different,” Grantham said of the Bucks. “The biggest difference is how mobile their quarterback is. When they have broken plays he makes really good runs.
“He looks downfield on broken plays, also. In today’s world, everybody can run and throw, but when plays break down he not only can make it become a good play he’s a real threat.”
Martinez has combined for 2,000 yards rushing and passing and accounted for 30 touchdowns, 18 on runs.
Tillman was quick to point out that goes both ways in this matchup.
“Any time you go against an athlete that’s one of the things a coach concerns himself with … when you have an athlete with the ball in open space,” he said. “Jacob has does a very good job. But with (Alex) Marlowe you have the same situation.
“We have the same concern he does with Marlowe and (Micheal) Robinson. Then again, he’s got to worry about (Jovani) Bell and (James) Jernigan.”
Tillman said the Bucks have punted only 13 times this season. One key, he said, will be finishing off drives with points.
The Bucks will be without one of their top defenders, Cole Barfield, who is out with a fractured ankle. Liberty County had last week off to heal some bruises, and will be closer to full strength for the rematch.
However, coaches always are concerned if a layoff disrupts timing or basic execution such as tackling.
Another factor could be playoff experience, the Bulldogs no stranger to the postseason and Bozeman reaching the playoffs for just the second time in school history. No current member of the Bucks ever has participated in the postseason.
“I’m sure some of their contributors weren’t in there last year,” Tillman pointed out. “And their quarterback (Dustin Watson) is a transfer. I think right now our kids are excited. They know they need to win to stay in.”
Grantham wasn’t sure how playoff experience would factor in.
“I know it won’t affect us, but I can’t answer for Bozeman,” he said. “This should be a very good high school football game. Bozeman has some very good 1A athletes and we have some.
“I know these are two teams that will play hard.”
Blountstown (6-4) at Holmes County (7-2)
In addition to their prior meeting being 10 weeks ago, each team comes in off a disappointing loss in the regular-season finale.
A 16-7 defeat at Lafayette could be twice as unsettling for Blountstown, which lost veteran quarterback Hunter Jordan to a knee injury early in that game.
Jordan is questionable Friday in Bonifay, and probably a game-time decision for his coach and father Greg Jordan. Sophomore Dylan Lee stepped in last week and did as well as could be expected, Coach Jordan said.
“He quarterback our JV as a ninth-grader and was playing safety for us,” Jordan said. “I didn’t realize it then but he threw the ball 16 of 17 times” against Lafayette.
That said, Blountstown doesn’t want to get into a shootout against Holmes County, which was zooming along until losing 34-0 to Marianna last week.
“We played those guys early and were without our starting guards and safety,” Jordan said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage, and they do a great job of pitching and catching.
“But in the trenches is where we lost the game. We didn’t do a good job blocking. And I think we’ve grown up defensively. We look forward to the chance to go over there and compete against a quality opponent.”
The Blue Devils showcase a number of weapons offensively with quarterback Jacky Miles, running back Kodi Russ and receivers Ty Russ and Dustin Janas. The efficiency of the skill players often overshadows Holmes County’s ability to be sound fundamentally in all phases.
It also should be noted that last week’s 34-0 defeat to Marianna was scoreless entering the fourth quarter, according to Maxpreps.
Freeport (4-6) at Graceville (8-2)
Since its loss to Freeport, Graceville has won six consecutive games. The District 2-1A champion also has home-field advantage for the rematch.
The teams were nearly identical in rushing attacks on Sept. 28, Freeport with a slight 166-162 advantage despite 120 yards by the Tigers’ Jarrett Brogdon. The vast difference came with Bulldogs junior quarterback Gabe Moore completing eight passes for 159 yards, three of them 23 yards or longer, and to five receivers.
Senior Owen Cole scored three touchdowns for Freeport in its previous win.
Cottondale (4-5) at Bratt Northview (7-3)
Like Graceville, Cottondale has rebounded from a dismal showing in 2011 to earn a spot in the postseason. In addition to traveling, however, the Hornets could have the most difficult test of all area teams in the first round.
Northview, the favorite of many to represent the Panhandle in he 1A finals, has not lost to a Rural classification school all season.
The Chiefs three defeats were to 5A schools West Florida and Gulf Breeze and 4A Marianna. Both West Florida and Gulf Breeze are alive in the 5A playoffs and all Marianna did was win eight games in another reversal of fortune from 2011.
Northview has outscored 1A opposition 328-56 this season. That is an average of 49-8 per game.