Hours earlier, Gulf Breeze High senior quarterback Tyler Phelps held a microphone and captivated in a different way.
At the school pep rally, prior to Friday night’s homecoming game against Milton, Phelps reminded everyone about an unwanted fact.
“We haven’t won a homecoming game since we’ve been in high school,” Phelps said, retelling his speech. “But we are going to win one tonight.”
The Dolphins did it in a big way.
In a season full of breakthroughs, Gulf Breeze shattered its past with a resounding 36-3 victory against Milton, which sent the students spilling on to the field to join the players in a mass celebration. A homecoming to forever remember.
“I have a special group of kids to be honest,” said first-year coach Bobby Clayton, who has taken his alma mater to a 5-1 record and now 1-0 in District 2-6A. “They’re fighters. They have been through some bad stuff and they are enjoying some hard work. I can’t say enough about those guys.”
An overflow crowd on the Dolphins home side, which included Gulf Breeze grad and pitching star Ben Lively, watched a program that once struggled to win any home game now start 3-0 at home.
“There’s a lot of excitement in Gulf Breeze right now,” Clayton said. “And I say it all the time, it’s not me, it’s these kids. The community believes in what we’re doing and they show up in masses. The students’ section are the best… hands down. It makes a difference, because our players play even harder when they get motivated from our students and fans.”
Phelps shook off an interception on the Dolphins’ first possession, which followed Milton’s long drive and game-leading field goal to start the game, to continually steer long scoring drives the rest of the game. Gulf Breeze had the ball only three times the first half, except for the final seconds before halftime, and scored touchdowns on those two possessions.
Up 15-3 at halftime, the Dolphins scored touchdowns on the first two possessions of the second half to put the game away before the fourth quarter. Both of these were 76 yard drives that were a combination of Phelps passes and runs by tailbacks Tyler Dittmer and Carl Taylor.
Parker Baynes caught a 55-yard touchdown from Phelps and rushed for another.
“The emotions were up there,” Phelps said on the pep rally and the motivation. “It was hard to keep them in check to 7 o’clock. It is the best season I have ever had in football.
“Having Coach Clayton come in here and then having all our guys finally believing in us.
At Gulf Breeze
GULF BREEZE 36, MILTON 3
MILTON — William Murta 30-yard field goal, 6:25
GULF BREEZE — Parker Baynes 55 yard pass from Tyler Phelps (Matthew DeMahy 2-point conversion pass from Parker Baynes), 2:11
GULF BREEZE — Tyler Phelps 1 yard run (Spencer Wirth kick), 5:53
GULF BREEZE —- Tyler Dittmer 23 yard run (Spencer Wirth kick), 8:55
GULF BREEZE — Parker Baynes 6 yard run (Spencer Wirth kick), 2:19
GULF BREEZE — Carl Taylor 7 yard run (Spencer Wirth kick), 5:52