Can handing out blowouts be a bad thing?
Of course not. At least, not on the surface.
One week after blanking Tate 14-0 in a Kickoff Classic game, Pensacola Catholic decimated Pryor (Okla.) in its regular-season opener. The Crusaders raced out to a 35-0 advantage in the first quarter before cruising to a 41-0 home victory.
However, there may be a downside to those results. Catholic starters only played the first half of the preseason tilt with the Aggies and were pulled early against their visitors from the Sooner state after building a comfortable cushion. Coupled with numerous canceled practices due to inclement weather in recent weeks, the Crusaders' conditioning for 48 minutes may be a question mark.
"We haven't played a full game yet with the starters, so the kind of shape we're in is a concern," Catholic head coach Matt Adams said. "I think we've been hard at it, but we've missed a lot of days of practice. ... I don't know if we've got the early-season kinks out yet. I'm hoping that's not going to show up on Thursday."
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Pensacola Catholic's first true test comes in its first road game of 2022. The team faces Milton at 7 p.m. Thursday from Haywood Hanna Stadium. The game was originally scheduled for Friday, but do to a referee shortage in the Panhandle, it was moved up a day.
"Both teams have to deal with it, that's just how it goes," Adams said. "We've been having to deal all year with losing practice time due to weather and everything else. We may get to practice more this week than we have the last two weeks."
On the other side, Panthers head coach Kelly Gillis faces the daunting challenge of having one less day to prepare for a Catholic team that he describes as "well-rounded."
"They have an explosiveness, especially on offense, where if you don't dot your i's, cross your t's and make sure you have an understanding of what they are trying to do to you, you can get in trouble," he said.
Milton certainly has enough talent offensively to stand toe-to-toe with anyone.
Senior running back Tyree Haynes posted 14 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns in his first game as a Panther last week while senior wide receiver Tre'lin Carnegia pulled down 10 catches, more than any local player in Week 1. Georgia commit Raymond Cottrell and Miami commit Emory Williams weren't too shabby either. Cottrell scored twice and Williams completed 60 percent of his passes for 230 yards.
Yet, the reason why Milton enters Week 2 in search of its first win isn't because of offense.
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Graduating nine starters and its top-eight tacklers from a year ago, the defense is a work in progress. The Panthers allowed more than 400 yards of total offense during a 42-31 loss to Andalusia.
"We're young and it's going to take some time to get some seasoned experience," Gillis said of the defense. "That showed a little bit on Friday. ... It's going to take us continuing to grind and stay the course on all that."
Another item Milton needs to overcome is playing at home, as oddly as that sounds. With the exception of the 2020 COVID year, the Panthers and Crusaders have done battle every season since 2013.
And with the exception of 2013, the visitors in this series has come out on top every single time. Milton extended the road streak to seven games following a 32-30 victory last season at Gorecki-LeBeau Stadium.
"We've developed a really good back and forth. We've beat them over there at their place and we've never beat them at home," Gillis said. "It's kind of weird, but we've always had really good football games. Some of them have gone to the wire, some of them have gone into overtime. It's always been really good, physical competition."
Catholic and Milton have been separated by a combined margin of 11 points over their last four meetings. Four points has been the largest separation between the two in that span.
"I would say it's a fun rivalry, a good rivalry," Adams said. "I don't think there's any hatred in the rivalry, it's more of just a good rivalry where we enjoy playing each other and it's always a good game."
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Week 2 Schedule
Pensacola Catholic (1-0) at Milton (0-1)
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Haywood Hanna Stadium
Key players: Pensacola Catholic - Ja’Bril Rawls (DB, Sr.), Tim Gulley (DL, Sr.), Zack DeJesus (LB, Sr.), Aidan Byrd (QB, Sr.), Demontrae Gaston (ATH, Jr.), C.J. Nettles (RB, So.); Milton - Raymond Cottrell (WR, Sr.), Emory Williams (QB, Sr.), T.J. Haynes (RB, Sr.), Tre'lin Carnegia (WR, Sr.), Manny Kimmons (DL, Jr.)
Last week’s results: Pensacola Catholic - 41-0 win vs. Pryor (Okla.).; Milton - 42-31 loss vs. Andalusia (Ala.)
Last meeting: Sept. 3, 2021 - Milton 32, Pensacola Catholic 30
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Pensacola Catholic 35, Milton 28
West Florida (1-0) at Booker T. Washington (1-0)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Sherman L. Robinson Stadium
Key players: West Florida - Markell Redding (ATH, Sr.), Ahmarion Moultrie (LB, Sr.), Oneal Daniels (DL, Sr.), Zeyvian Avery (OLB/DE, Sr.), Marquez Jones (RB, Jr.), John Nicholas (QB, Jr.); Booker T. Washington - Jaylen Lewis (LB, Sr.), Reed Robinson (WR, Sr.), E.J. Townsend (LB, Sr.), Patrick O’Hara (DL, Sr.), Malachi Gilbert (DB, Sr.), B.J. Jenkins (WR, Sr.)
Last week’s results: West Florida - 14-11 win vs. Escambia; Booker T. Washington - 51-43 win vs. Pensacola
Last meeting: Sept. 24, 2021 - West Florida 35, Booker T. Washington 14
The skinny: The team that racked up more points than any area squad last week is host to a defense that didn't allow a touchdown. West Florida survived a furious rally and forced a turnover on downs in the final moments of its win against Escambia. Meanwhile, behind five touchdown passes from junior quarterback John Nicholas, Booker T. Washington cracked the 50-point mark in a game for the first time since 2019. With that said, there's a couple questions to be asked. Can the Wildcats defense and special teams step up after allowing 43 points to Pensacola? Also, did the Jaguars find the right answers in practice this week after their offense was shut down in the second half against the Gators?
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): West Florida 28, Booker T. Washington 17
Northview (1-0) at Lighthouse Private Christian Academy (0-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Stingray Stadium
Key players: Northview - Jamarkus Jefferson (RB/LB, Sr.), John Michael Ward (OL/DL, Sr.), Kaden Odom (QB/CB, Sr.), Luke Bridges (RB/SS, Sr.), Aidan Broadhead, (WR/DB, Sr.); Lighthouse Private Christian Academy - Keyon Stoutemire (ATH, Sr.), Johnny Lewis Jr. (QB, So.), Damarion Crocker (ATH, Sr.), Keon Straughn (DL, Sr.), Dillon Thompson (DB, Sr.)
Last week’s results: Northview - 48-33 win vs. Flomaton (Ala.); Lighthouse Private Academy - 14-7 loss vs. Young Kids In Motion
Last meeting: Sept. 2, 2021 - Northview 43, Lighthouse Private Christian Academy 28
The skinny: The Chiefs' workhorse was at it again. Jamarkus Jefferson rushed for 210 yards and four touchdowns to carry Northview to a 48-33 win over Flomaton (Ala.). The senior athlete is in line for another monster performance after accounting for 259 all-purpose yards and three total scores in Northview's victory over the Stingrays last year.
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Northview 45, Lighthouse Private Christian Academy 6
Freeport (0-1) at Jay (0-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Merle V. North Stadium
Key players: Freeport - Ashton Nunes (QB, Sr.), Robbie Durgin (WR, Sr.), Tracker Thomaston (LB, Sr.), Zyon Wilson (RB, Sr.), Cameron Fernandez (ATH, Jr.); Jay - Landyn Cooley (DL/RB, Sr.), Hayden Morris (QB/DB, So.), Jackson Lawson (DB/RB, Sr.), Joe Norris (LB, Sr.), Trent Watson (OL, Sr.)
Last week’s results: Freeport - 54-20 loss at Blountstown; Jay - 25-0 loss vs. W.S. Neal (Ala.)
Last meeting: Sept. 3, 2021 - Freeport 37, Jay 12
The skinny: Jay has to play with discipline if it has any chance of competing against the Bulldogs. Fumbling the ball on the second play of the game, the Royals turned it over four times in their season-opening loss to W.S. Neal (Ala.). They were called for 12 penalties in their their 25-point defeat to Freeport last fall.
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Freeport 35, Jay 14
Pine Forest (1-0) at Navarre (1-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Bennett C. Russell Stadium
Key players: Pine Forest - T.J. Wilson (QB, Sr.), Elijah Douglas (DL, Sr.), Donielle Hayes (WR, Sr.), Jonathan Daniels (OL, Jr.), Kobe Johnson (RB, Sr.), Deontae Reinhardt (ATH, Sr.); Navarre - Zavier Hamilton (LB, Jr.), Ethan Newman (OL, Sr.), Terence Marshall (Jr., WR), Tyrell Marshall (DB, Jr.), Hunter Pfiester (QB, Jr.), Jadon Reese (WR, Sr.)
Last week’s results: Pine Forest - 34-0 win vs. Tate; Navarre - 47-7 win at Fort Walton Beach
Last meeting: Sept. 20, 2019 - Pine Forest 24, Navarre 6
The skinny: This matchup features the two area teams that won their Week 1 contests by the two largest margins. The Raiders had five players reach the end zone during their blowout at Fort Walton Beach last week, led by three touchdowns from senior wide receiver Jadon Reese. The Eagles matched that effort in their shutout of Tate. Senior quarterback T.J. Wilson tossed a touchdown pass and ran in another score while senior defensive end Elijah Douglas rumbled to pay dirt on an interception return.
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Pine Forest 27, Navarre 14
Escambia (0-1) at Gulfport (Miss.) (1-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Joseph Milner Stadium
Key players: Escambia - Ammiel Steele (QB, Sr.), Akeem Stokes (WR, Sr.), Trevion Killette (ATH, Jr.), Alfred Washington (OL, Sr.), Ladarian Clardy (ATH, So.), Tadarius Wright (ATH, Sr.); Gulfport - Jacob Palazzo (QB, Sr.), Jereiyah Parkman (DL, Jr.), Emmanual Bentley (RB, Sr.), Tavaris Henshaw (WR, Sr.), Gavis Brown (RB, Jr.)
Last week’s results: Escambia - 14-11 loss at West Florida; Gulfport - 19-14 win at George County (Miss)
Last meeting: Sept. 3, 2021 - Escambia 35, Gulfport 28 (OT)
The skinny: The Gators and Bulldogs reunite after a classic duel at Emmitt Smith Field last season. Gulfport wiped out a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit and was in position to win at the buzzer, but the potential game-winning field goal was blocked to send the game into overtime. After scoring first, Escambia mounted a goal-line stand to walk away with the victory.
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Escambia 24, Gulfport 21
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Crestview (1-0) at Gulf Breeze (0-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Dolphin Stadium
Key players: Crestview - Marion Hawthorne (LB, Sr.), Jerome Brazan (QB, Jr.), Jason Jones (RB, Sr.), Cecil Perdue (ATH, Sr.), Simeon White (DB, Sr.); Gulf Breeze - Lumpy Deweese (DB, Sr.), Troy Coughlin (RB, Sr.), Battle Alberson (QB, Jr.), Brock Clayton (WR, Sr.) Turner McLaughlin (LB, Jr.)
Last week’s results: 50-28 win vs. Ridley (Pa.); Gulf Breeze - 38-31 loss vs. Fairhope (Ala.)
Last meeting: Nov. 10, 2017 - Crestview 38, Gulf Breeze 35
The skinny: Gulf Breeze returns home to host Crestview in a matchup between teams that had drastically different contests in Week 1. Crestview cruised to a win against Ridley (Pa.) after jumping out to a 43-14 halftime advantage. Meanwhile, the Dolphins look to bounce back after relinquishing a double-digit second-half lead in a loss to Fairhope (Ala.). This is the meeting between these two since the Bulldogs denied Gulf Breeze that elusive playoff win by defeating the Dolphins 38-35 in a Region 1-6A quarterfinal five years ago.
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Gulf Breeze 35, Crestview 31
St. Martin (Miss.) (1-0) at Pace (1-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Pace High School
Key players: St. Martin - Noreel White (ATH, Jr.); Jaylon Dampeer (RB, So.), D.K. Jenkins (QB, Sr.), Romane Grant (DL, So.), Camron Ashley (ATH, Sr.); Pace - Jackson Ward (LB, Sr.), Reice Griffith (K, Sr.), Nick Simmons (QB, So.), Jayson Alford (FB/LS, Sr.), Xakery Wiedner (ATH, Jr.), Brandon Beckham (DL, Sr.)
Last week’s results: St. Martin - 20-13 win vs. Stone (Miss.); Pace - 31-30 win at Choctaw
Last meeting: N/A
The skinny: The Patriots have pulled off last-second victories each of the last two weeks. First, Ben Tyner rushed in the game-winning score late in the team's Kickoff Classic against Fort Walton Beach. Then, Pace erased a 30-21 fourth-quarter deficit to come away with a 31-30 win at Choctaw following a game-winning field goal by Reice Griffith. Hosting the Yellow Jackets for their home opener, the Patriots hope to reverse their fortunes at home from a year ago. Pace went 1-4 at home in 2021.
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Pace 28, St. Martin 20
Pensacola (0-1) at Tate (0-1)
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: Pete Gindl Stadium
Key players: Pensacola - Bobby Green (WR, Sr.), Ottah Bonner (LB, Sr.), Jaquan Kennedy (RB, Sr.), De’Vonsha O’Neal (QB, Sr.), A.G. Floyd (WR, So.); Booker T. Washington - Jaylen Lewis (LB, Sr.); Tate - Andre Colston (RB, Jr.), Carmelo Campbell (WR, Sr.), Taite Davis (QB, So.), Diego Dukes (ATH, So.), (OL, Jr.), Marcell Davis (LB, Jr.)
Last week’s results: Pensacola - 51-43 loss at Booker T. Washington; Tate - 34-0 loss at Pine Forest
Last meeting: Aug. 27, 2021 - Tate 9, Pensacola 0
The skinny: This game was originally scheduled for Friday night at Pensacola, but was moved due safety concerns following multiple off-field incidents during the Tigers' game with Booker T. Washington last week. Victorious in their last three meetings, Tate shutout Pensacola for its only win in the 2021 campaign. It was the first of three scoreless games for the Tigers last season. However, Pensacola appears to be trending upward under head coach Cantrell Tyson and his offensive system, as the team put up 43 against Wildcats. Last year, it took the Tigers five games to reach the 43-point mark.
Patrick’s prediction (sure to be wrong): Pensacola 33, Tate 20
Patrick's prediction record entering Week 2: 7-3
Patrick Bernadeau is a sports reporter for the Pensacola News Journal. He can be reached at (850) 503-3828, on Twitter @PatBernadeau or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Week 2 Football Preview: Pensacola Catholic, Milton continue close rivalry