Sure, Pensacola High vs. Pine Forest isn’t a district rivalry, but that doesn’t mean it won’t feel like one.
The Pine Forest Eagles host the Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Friday, for a high-speed showdown.
Each team holds multiple playmakers on offense — Friday’s game could be won or lost based off defensive mistakes and big plays by the offense.
“Pine Forest is loaded with athletes and they do a great job of coaching over there,” Pensacola High coach Mike Mincy said. “We’re getting thrown into the fire in the first game of the season, and the kids are looking to the game. We want to control the things that we can control, be fundamentally sound and see what happens at the end of the fourth quarter.”
The home opener for the Eagles has created a buzz around Pine Forest, which has high expectations for its football team this year.
“I think everybody is excited, there will be the pep rally (Friday), and we should have a great crowd at the game,” Pine Forest coach Jerry Pollard said. “With Escambia and West Florida playing (Thursday night) a lot of their crowd may show up. We’re looking forward to a big, tough game and a big crowd.”
While the pre-game jitters could reach season highs for each team, Pollard hopes preparation will pave the way for success for Pine Forest.
“We just want to be better prepared. It’s the first game of the season and I think our guys are mentally and physically ready,” Pollard said. “There will be a lot of athletes on the field. PHS has got speed guys just like we do. They will come ready to play. Pine Forest and PHS play each other well each year.”
Mincy said it’s “pick you poison” when it comes to stopping the Eagles, and rattled off names of several playmakers like Xavier Saulsberry, Jaden Gardner and Jacob Copeland.
“Our guys look at it as an opportunity,” Mincy said. “I don’t know if we will play a better team this year. (Pine Forest) is gonna attack. We have to tackle well and put 11 guys on the football. It’s gonna be tough, but that’s what we like to do. That’s the Pensacola area, every Friday night you won’t find an easy game. That’s what makes this area so great.”
Want to go?
Who: Pine Forest Eagles vs. Pensacola High Tigers
Where: Pine Forest High
When: 7:30 p.m.
Skinny: Winner will make strong statement for area’s most athletic team in a game that could turn into a high-scoring affair quickly.