No. 1 Tigers prepare for title game

No. 1 Tigers prepare for title game

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No. 1 Tigers prepare for title game

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When the undefeated Blountstown football team takes to the Citrus Bowl field in Orlando tonight for the Class 1A state title game versus Trenton, it does so fully expecting to have been competing for the school’s first state title since 1977.

But that expectation didn’t germinate in the preseason. It didn’t take root after the first win of the year. It didn’t grow in belief upon reaching the playoffs.

“This group of seniors, we planted the seed when they were freshmen,” Tigers head coach Greg Jordan said. “They came in and had an undefeated JV season. They were undefeated in eighth grade in middle school, undefeated in ninth grade, coached them up on varsity and they’ve won three district titles in four years.

“They’ve been in the playoffs every year, but to advance all the way through the playoffs and have a chance to win a state championship is pretty special.”

There are 10 seniors on this top-ranked Tigers team, and the familiarity with each other has led to trust on the field, accountability off and a business-like approach to each game. And that nuance is unique to the area, unlike big city schools where bodies can move around often, especially in the jumpfrom middle to high school.

“They’ve grown up together and most have probably played with each other all the way through the Pee Wee level,” Jordan said. “They do develop some closeness that can be hard to come by when kids are transferring out.”

Blountstown (13-0) has prided itself on its defense all season long and has eight shutouts to show for its philosophy. The Tigers only play 14-15 kids defensively but are more liberal in substitutions on the offensive side.

“Every coach builds their team differently, but we built ours around our defense,” Jordan explained.

“We put our best kids on the defensive side of the ball and we try to leave them there throughout the game. We’ll sub some of our kids offensively, and when you look at our stats offensively, none of our backs have eye-popping numbers, primarily because they’ve got someone coming in for them when they get tired.”

Blountstown opened the playoffs with a 40-6 thumping of Liberty County, only surrendering points in the fourth quarter with non-starters in. Then it throttled Port St. Joe, 34-0, and Cottondale, 42-0, which is a comfort knowing that there are multiple ways to win a game.

Said Jordan: “If you don’t score a lot points, we figure we can find a way to score a couple touchdowns and hang in the game anyway.”

Trenton (11-1) played in the state championship game last year, dropping a contest against Northview, 42-21.

The Tigers return many of the players from last year’s game played in the same spot, and Blountstown is prepping to stop a veer option attack and several solid skill position players on a team that’s averaging 39 points per game.

“They’ve beat the brakes off of just about everybody they’ve played with the exception of three games,” said Jordan, referencing two games against Dixie County and one against Chiefland.

Blountstown’s coach, now completing his eighth year, has only had one of his teams miss the playoffs. With small schools, there is no guarantee of a next big opportunity. Dynamics change and a run of good players may not come again for several years.

Jordan learned that after his 12-1 first season, when two years later they were 3-7. All the more reason to take advantage now.

“This is a special group of kids and they’ve worked extremely hard for it,” said Jordan, who was the defensive coordinator in 2004 when the Tigers lost in the state title game.

“This is something we hope will happen this year. We’ve been working for it and talking about it, now the opportunity is there for another one.”

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