It’s undeniable that Escambia’s and Pensacola High’s seasons have not gone as planned.
After finishing as District 1-6A champion (Escambia) and runner-up (PHS) in 2014, neither squad is playoff bound this year.
And though the teams play in different districts now, that won’t be enough to diminish the “Battle for Ye’ Olde Wash Boiler” — a game in which Escambia has won two years in a row.
But don’t tell that to the Tigers.
“The kids are just excited and ready to go,” PHS coach Mike Mincy said. “It’s a big game for our school and our alumni.
“Thursday we held our last practice of the season. It was emotional for some of them. But all season, our guys have done a great job of getting focused on the next game. They know what’s at stake and they really want the tub back.”
To take the tub back from the Gators, the Tigers will be challenged with stopping Jabir Frye — Kennesaw State commit and the area’s third leading rusher — as he heads a triple-option attack in Escambia’s backfield.
The Tigers will seek aggressive defense from Robert Reaves (103 tackles, one defensive TD) and Kenneth Greer (8 sacks, 78 tackles).
“Escambia is loaded with athletes,” Mincy said. “We’ve had to prepare this week. Our guys have to be able to take care of their responsibilities. On every play, somebody has gotta have the pitch, somebody has gotta have the dive and someone has to take the QB.”
Escambia entered the season as one of the area’s favorites, and started 4-1 before falling to Jesuit — a defending state championship team from Louisiana.
After a win over Class 7A’s No. 4 Columbia the following week, the Gators lost three straight … including two crucial District 1-6A losses to Pine Forest and Tate.
“(Emotions) hit our guys pretty hard when we got knocked out of the playoffs,” Escambia coach Mike Davis said. “Now we are playing for fun. We expect Pensacola High’s best. That’s usually what we get from everybody. PHS throws the ball around a lot and they have good athletes all over the field. It should be a pretty good match up for us both.”
To retain the tub would be the best possible outcome for the Gators, who have worked their way through what was arguably the area’s toughest regular-season schedule.
“We are just trying to continue the streak,” Davis said. “We’ve had it two years in a row. Our seniors have basically had the tub every year they have been on varsity. We just want to continue that and end our season on a positive note.”
Want to go?
Who: Pensacola High at Escambia
What: Battle for Ye Olde Wash Boiler
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Emmitt Smith Field