By PATRICK CASEY
The South Walton Seahawks are district champs in the sport of football for the first time in school history!
The Seahawks got an 8-yard run by Cody Adams and a touchdown-saving tackle from D.J. Striedal, followed by a Baker fumble, to take a 6-0 win over the Gators and claim the District 1, Class 2B crown.
Baker took the opening kickoff against South Walton and went nowhere. The Seahawks sacked Cameron Domangue on second down and held him three yards on his other two carries to force a Baker punt.
David Bazylak returned the punt 18 yards to the South Walton 48, giving the Seahawk offense good field position to start a drive. Bryant Adams and Bazylak ran the ball down to the Baker 8-yard line in six plays, then watched Cody Adams scamper in from eight yards out to give South Walton the only points they would need. Bazylak’s extra point clanged off the left upright to keep the Seahawks from a 7-point lead.
Baker’s Marcus Jones took the first play from scrimmage after the Seahawks score 54 yards to the South Walton 25-yard line only to be kept from scoring a touchdown by D.J. Striedal’s swipe of his legs in a last-gasp effort to tackle the runner. Striedal’s tackle paid big dividends as Jones fumbled the handoff from Domangue on the next play and the Seahawks Tyler Brielmayer fell on it at the 26-yard line.
South Walton proceeded to pound the ball at Baker as Bryant Adams finished with 34 rushing yards and Bazylak 47. The Seahawks marched to the Baker 22-yard line, eating up a ton of clock time and ended the game by taking a 7-yard loss to run out the clock and claim the win. South Walton’s offense held the ball for 9:11 and ran 18 plays while Baker had the ball for only five plays and 2:49 of the quarter.
Baker advanced to play South Walton in the second quarter of the shootout after edging Vernon 6-0. The Gators got an 8-yard touchdown run from quarterback Cameron Domangue to take the lead on their first possession after Vernon failed to pick up a first down at the Baker 48-yard line on a fourth down attempt. Vernon helped the Gators out with two costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on their touchdown drive. Baker stopped Vernon on downs on their next possession and ran out the clock to set up the showdown with the host Seahawks.
Vernon was eliminated from playoff contention with the South Walton win over Baker, while the Gators face the unenviable task of traveling to Florida High for an opening round playoff game on November 21. Florida High is 9-1 with the lone loss coming to Marianna on the road 26-19 in a game that was a rain-soaked affair.
South Walton qualified for the shootout by posting an impressive 31-0 shutout at Northview on Friday. South Walton built a 17-0 lead at the half and bottled up the Northview offense. David Bazylak, Dennis Smith, Cody Adams and Howard Young each scored rushing touchdowns while Bazylak added a 37-yard field goal.
The win by South Walton coupled with Vernon’s 34-20 victory over Holmes County left Baker, South Walton and Vernon with 3-1 records in district play to force the shootout.