Football

Battle of unbeatens in Niceville

You don’t have to remind Tate head coach Jay Lindsey what happened the last time his Aggies faced Niceville.

Last year’s dramatic 21-20 win in the Region 1-6A final sent the Aggies to the Final Four in his first season as head coach.

Tate quarterback Jake Henry (16) steps back and prepares to throw a touchdown pass to Rodriguez Smith during the opening drive of the game Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate quarterback Jake Henry (16) steps back and prepares to throw a touchdown pass to Rodriguez Smith during the opening drive of the game Friday night at Pensacola High School.

The undefeated Aggies don’t linger on that victory, however. For them, tonight’s game is an opportunity to prove they’re in it for the long haul as a Panhandle power.

“Our schedule in general, it’s not just Niceville, I think we have a tough schedule,” Lindsey said. “But you know Niceville has always been a great program with Coach Hicks and his staff and players. They do as good a job as anyone. It’s a good chance to check the foundation of your program and what you need to get better at.”

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Fresh off a 42-7 pounding of Bassfield (Miss.) last week, the undefeated Eagles are led by senior quarterback Jeffery Toney and an “explosive” offense that loves to take to the air. Toney is already nearing 1,000 passing yards on the season and has 13 passing touchdowns.

The Aggie defense is allowing just 19 points per game thus far, but likely hasn’t been tested by an aerial attack quite like the Eagles’.

“There’s no secret ingredient or formula to success in one football game,” Lindsey said. “We just have to keep doing what we do and play better than we did last week. It’s pretty simple.”

The Eagles’ passing attack may be a challenge, but the Aggies have their own dynamic offense. Led by senior quarterback Jake Henry, Tate has scored 40 points or more in each game this season.

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Henry has been the focal point of the Aggie offense, tossing six touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 467 yards on an average of 10.9 yards per carry.

While the emotions of a rivalry game between two undefeated foes can inflate the hype surrounding a game, Lindsey said it’s important to keep the non-district game in context.

After all, the Aggies lost last year’s regular-season matchup before pulling through when it really mattered.

“The biggest thing I look at is that Friday’s ballgame is the midway point of the season,” Lindsey said. “It’s the fifth game of the season and we’re guaranteed 10, so we just want to keep playing good football and hopefully get better.”

Photo gallery: Tate vs. PHS Preseason

Tate's Ladarryl Paige (4) makes his way to the outside of the Pensacola defense Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate’s Ladarryl Paige (4) makes his way to the outside of the Pensacola defense Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate's Rodriguez Smith (11) makes a quick move to his leftto keep the Pensacola defender from catching him Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate’s Rodriguez Smith (11) makes a quick move to his leftto keep the Pensacola defender from catching him Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate's Ladarryl Paige (4) makes his way to the outside of the Pensacola defense Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate’s Ladarryl Paige (4) makes his way to the outside of the Pensacola defense Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate's Rodriguez Smith (11) makes a quick move to his leftto keep the Pensacola defender from catching him Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate’s Rodriguez Smith (11) makes a quick move to his leftto keep the Pensacola defender from catching him Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate quarterback Jake Henry (16) steps back and prepares to throw a touchdown pass to Rodriguez Smith during the opening drive of the game Friday night at Pensacola High School.

Tate quarterback Jake Henry (16) steps back and prepares to throw a touchdown pass to Rodriguez Smith during the opening drive of the game Friday night at Pensacola High School.

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