Coming off consecutive playoff-berth seasons, the Tate Aggies and first-year head coach Jay Lindsey are eager to keep the streak going this year.
Aside from a loss to Pensacola High in Week Two of last season, the Aggies were undefeated against teams in the Pensacola News Journal coverage area and rode the momentum to the second round of the playoffs.
The Aggies were dealt a 34-0 loss to Niceville High, the second loss of the season for Tate against the Eagles.
“It’s early… but our expectations are to get better every week and be the best that we can be,” said Lindsey, who will lead the Aggies in the kick-off classic against Pensacola High on Friday. “Right now, no one knows just how good we can be. We’re gonna set the bar as high as possible. We expect to be competitive.”
Lindsey’s day-to-day challenges for the Aggies may be tough, but raising the bar is something current Tate players are very familiar with.
“Nothing has changed at all,” said defensive end Alonte Thomas, referring to the transition from former head coach Ronnie Douglas to coach Lindsey. “We still have the same mentality and do the same work.
“I think we should be a pretty good team. We are strong and full of seniors. We are just working hard and getting after it every day.”
And with the biggest senior class in the area, the Aggies feel they have the experience needed to handle local competition and also go toe-to-toe with Niceville.
While the Niceville contest won’t hold playoff implications like it did last year, the Aggies would thrive off a victory in Week Five.
“We wanna beat Niceville,” Tate senior Trace Penton said. “We’re tired of losing to them and we are ready to conquer the beast. They have been a thorn in our side the last two years. I think we’ve got the team to do it this year.
“I’m ready for the season. This summer has been the hardest off season since I’ve been at Tate. Friday is the reward for all of our hard work.”
The Aggies will play host Friday, as the PHS Tigers will travel to Aggie Country for the ESPN Pensacola / PNJ game of the week.
“I have a lot of respect for Pensacola High,” Lindsey said. “I think coach (Mike) Mincy is a very high-character guy. We are looking forward to kick-off. Our kids are ready to get under the lights and get it going. We want to perform at a high level, get into game shape and feel the excitement.”
13 in 13 series
•Saturday, Aug. 8: Catholic Crusaders
•Sunday, Aug. 9: Escambia Gators
•Monday, Aug. 10: Gulf Breeze Dolphins
•Tuesday, Aug. 11: Jay Royals
•Wednesday, Aug. 12: Milton Panthers
•Thursday, Aug. 13: Navarre Raiders
•Friday, Aug. 14: Northview Chiefs
•Saturday, Aug, 15: Pace Patriots
•Sunday, Aug. 16: Pensacola Tigers
•Monday, Aug. 17: Pine Forest Eagles
•Today: Tate Aggies
•Wednesday, Aug. 19: Washington Wildcats
•Thursday, Aug. 20: West Florida Jaguars
•Sunday, Aug. 23: Super Seniors
Tate Aggies (9-3 last season)
at West Florida
*—Denotes District 1-6A game.
Aug. 29 beat West Florida 19-7; Sept. 5 lost to Pensacola 45-35; Sept. 12 beat Bay 47-0; Sept. 19 beat West Gadsden 52-3; Sept. 26 beat Pine Forest 33-32 (OT); Oct. 3 lost to Niceville 35-7; Oct. 10 beat Washington 35-28; Oct. 17 beat Crestview 42-28; Oct. 24 beat Fort Walton Beach 56-20; Oct. 31 beat Escambia 27-24; Nov. 14 beat Lincoln 34-24; Nov. 21 lost to Niceville 34-0.
Players to watch
Skinny: The University of Central Florida commit may be the most dangerous dual-threat QB in the PNJ coverage area. Smith finished with 2304 passing yards in his junior year,added 440 on the ground and combined for 26 total TDs.
Skinny: Ditto led the Aggies with 151 total tackles last season. Ditto will lead the linebackers and bolster an Aggie defense with loads of experience.
Skinny: As a sophomore, Henry was a pivotal member of Tate’s secondary. In 2014, Henry finished with three interceptions, six defended passes and 26 total tackles.
Top 3 games
•Sept. 25, vs. Niceville: The Aggies were outscored 69-7 in two games against the Eagles last year, even though the two games may have felt closer. Though it will not be a district contest this season, with a win the Aggies could feel a significant boost heading into the second half of the regular season.
•Oct. 2, at Escambia: The Gators and Aggies clashed in a thriller during the final week of the regular season in 2014. A narrowly-missed FG would have put the game in to overtime in the closing seconds. This year, the squads will expect a battle, but the game could mean more with the teams playing for District 1-6A honors.
•Oct. 30, vs. Pine Forest: This match will mark the third meeting between the teams in one calendar year, with Tate being the victor after an overtime battle in the previous two matches. The game will close out district play for both squads and playoff hopes may be on the line.
Pine Forest coach Jerry Pollard’s years at the school was incorrectly reported in Monday’s preview of the Eagles’ 2015 season. Pollard will be beginning his 30th season at Pine Forest — 27th as the head football coach.