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Author: Randy Dickson

Hoboes come up short against Destin

Destin led 10-6 when Bella Gibbons took over in serve for the Hoboes. Gibbons delivered three aces in four serves as Laurel Hill tied the set 10-10. Destin took over and led the remainder of the set despite strong play from Laramie Boykin, Gibbons and Kaelin Martin.

Set two took a different turn as McDonald and Martin helped the Hoboes jump to a quick 10-1 lead and they never looked back in winning the set. Boykin had a couple of kills and was in serve to close out the set for Laurel Hill.

As was the case in the second set, Laurel Hill took control early in the third set and poured it on. Kennedi Kilpatrick joined the Hobo fun with a couple of kills in the set.

Just as quickly as the Hoboes seized momentum in the second set, it went to Destin in the fourth set. When the Sharks took the set the match hung on the final set with the first team to 15 winning the match.

The Sharks ran away with the deciding set to take the match.

“We got ourselves down and we stopped talking,” Hobo coach Kasey Campbell said. “As soon as we stopped talking, we shut down.

“We did pretty well in the first set trying to get the lead back, but we shut down when we stop talking.”

War of Highway 4 renews Friday night

“It’s always exciting,” he said. “Every year Jay is always going to be there playing Baker. It’s going to be a fun one.

“I’ve been playing those kids since middle school. I know all their names, their moms, where they live,  all the things. I’m always messing those kids going there.”

Gator head coach Barry Gardner has only been a part of the Baker-Jay rivalry a few years, but he knows full well what the Royals are about.

“I’ve been playing Jay for a long time too because I’m from Holmes County,” he said. “I know how they are when you go over there. It’s a tough place to play.

“We are excited to play them because they play hard.”

One thing that might be a neutralizing factor is both teams run a similar Wing-T offense.

“They don’t have the speed they’ve had in the past, but they are definitely physical,” Gardner said. “There shouldn’t be any surprises because we practice against it (the offense) all the time. They throw a little bit more than we do, but it’s out of the same sets.

“They are very well-coached. They’ve got a new coach (Brian Watson) and he’s doing a good job with them.”

The only common opponent for Baker and Jay so far is Destin. The Gators beat Destin 34-0. Jay beat the Sharks 25-6.

Baker is averaging 25 points a game. Jay averages 22 points a game.

The Jay defense gives up 24 points a game. Baker’s defense has given up 126 points, an average of 21 points a game. The Gators gave up 87 of those points in their two losses to South Walton and Northview.

Gardner said Jay will run a 4-4 defense (four linemen and four linebackers). He said they might mix things up a little as well.

Gardner believes the game will come down to one deciding factor.

“If we can bring our physicality, we have a pretty good chance to win,” he said.

Bulldogs travel to Chiles to play the Timberwolves

Crestview coach Thomas Grant served a year on the staff of Pettis and he knows Chiles (2-4) will be ready to play.

If any coach and team knows what Grant and the Bulldogs (2-3) feel having lost three games by a combined eight points, it would be Pettis and Chiles. Three of their losses have been by three points or less.

Both teams have lost to district games to Niceville. The Timberwolves are coming off a win over Mosley and this is the second district game for the Bulldogs.

In past times the game could be billed as a battle to determine who would finish second in the district, but with the complicated point system determining who makes the playoffs along with the district champions it makes the game even more important for both teams.

A loss would hurt Crestview more than Chiles as the Timberwolves would have two district wins and a better overall record. At this point in the season every games is crucial as the playoffs begin on Nov. 11.

Grant praised Pettis and the job he has done at Chiles.

“They are a well-coached team,” he said. “Coach Pettis does a great job over there. They are coming off a big win over Mosley.

“They love to run the football. They are a Wing-T buffet so to speak. They are going to do it very, very well.”

At one time the Wing T was a standard offense at many high schools with the misdirection and power running game. As teams have gone to the air more mostly smaller schools running the Wing T. This will be the only time the Bulldogs face the offense this year and that will challenge Crestview.

“One of the challenges is we don’t see it,” Grant said. “And then they bring a physicality that you can’t simulate until you get in the game.

“We have to do a great job this week of mentally preparing and reading our run fits like we did this past Friday night. If we do that, we will be right there in the game.”

The Timberwolves will run a variety of defensive sets many of which key off the direction offensive lineman go after the snap.

“He (Pettis) has a very unique defense,” Grand said. “It’s a lot of read defense where his inside linebackers and safeties read the guards. The outside linebackers kind of read the tackles. But he’s also done some 3-3 stack and some 4-2 (three linemen and three linebackers, four linemen and two linebackers).”

Grant believes the connections between Pettis and the Bulldog staff will add a little extra to what should already be a good game.

“Any time you get a chance to play a place you coached there’s a personal connection,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. I enjoyed my time under him.

“That helped me build experience and I’m looking forward to this challenge.”

Randy’s Report

When I was growing up we acknowledged storms and lightning, but there was never a call to call off practice or even delay it. Of course, we didn’t have portable weather stations in our pockets in the way of cell phones as we do today.

Anything short of lightening striking the flag pole in the end zone and we stayed on the field.

And while lightning was something we dealt with occasionally, the heat and humidity was a constant challenge in Northwest Florida in the 1970s just as it is today. I know Gulf Breeze wasn’t the only school where coaches gave players a handful of salt tablets and told us to get a little water before practice.

That little water was, at times, the only water we drank during a practice that could go longer than three hours. If it was hotter than normal we would get a water break and take our turn drinking from the hose at the concession stand. On rare occasions it would get so hot that coaches would give us two water breaks.

And of course, we had to deal with hurricanes too.

During weather events such as hurricanes, state and local officials have to balance the idea of when it’s best to close institutions and order evacuations. I’m not a fan of having any games canceled or postponed, but I understand the need to make the call early and safe lives in the process.

Florida and our neighboring states must deal with hurricanes and warm-weather issues. If you drive three or four hours north of Okaloosa County to Montgomery, or more so, Birmingham, Ala., the occasional snow event becomes a major event, only nobody tries to leave and get out of the path of a snowfall.

In states such as Tennessee and those north of the Volunteer State, snow is common, but still sends people pouring into the local stores to stock up on milk, bread and water. And yes, people line up at the pump too, just in case.

School officials in states with snow must make similar decisions to those in hurricane states. There is a tricky balance between being proactive and over reactive, but the upcoming “Big Game” should never factor into a decision.

Nobody wants school or athletic events canceled, but there are times when that’s the smart thing to do.

If Ian had blown his winds into our path, or some other hurricane makes its way, this year or in coming years, to our little corner of the world, a game postponed or cancelled is nothing compared to a loss of property or life. We will always be at the mercy of the weather, but we should be wise enough to take shelter from the storm.

And once the storm passes, we can celebrate our return to a normal life by playing and watching our games.

Shady Grove celebrates 100 years of worship

The leaders of the church in those early years are still remembered in the history of the church. Many of those men and women are buried in the church cemetery. And as each generation passes, a new generation rises up to answer God’s call.

Known as the Lighthouse, Shady Grove celebrated Its 100-year anniversary with Homecoming services on Oct. 2. As is the case with any church marking a milestone, there was special music, plenty of food following the service and a sermon celebrating the past and looking forward to the future.

Pastor Julian Walker, who was pastor of the church when it celebrated its 50th anniversary, was back to preach at the 100th-anniversary service. His wife, Rachel, sang.

Fifty years ago, during their time at Shady Grove, the Walkers were a young couple in their 20s starting their ministry.

Julian and Rachel Walker

“It’s awesome coming back,” said Walker, who now pastors Family Worship Center in Pensacola. “It’s such privilege to be here. It’s amazing to come back and celebrate the 100th anniversary.
“So many of the people I knew have already gone to Heaven,” Walker continued. I could tell you a story about every one of them.”

Rachel added, “All of these couples here, we did their weddings and dedicated their babies.”

If the Walkers are a window and connection to the church’s past, a young man like Kevin Cottrell is the window to the future.

Cottrell has been at Shady Grove a little more than a year and is in charge of the men’s ministry.

“Change is coming to Shady Grove and we are excited about that,” Cottrell said. “The Holy Spirit is moving. Things are going well here.
“We are excited about the movement and growth of this church,” Cottrell continued. “We are excited that we are able to celebrate the 100th year of this church. That’s a big milestone for the community.”

Cottrell knows that the mission of the church goes beyond the walls of Shady Grove and even past the backdrop of the Assemblies of God or any other denomination.

“We’ve got to be able to go outside our four walls,” he said. “Whatever denomination we are, we’ve got to reach into the community that are looking for a Bible based church whether it’s here or someplace else. We’ve got to come together and proclaim the Word of Jesus.”

Students gather at flagpole to pray for their schools

Thirty minutes later, students at Baker School would gather around the flagpole joining their peers at Crestview High School and other schools from around the world for See You at the Pole.

See You at the Pole, or SYATP, started with 10 students at a single school in 1990 and is now held at schools across the globe on the fourth Wednesday in September.

It is student led with adult sponsors and sometimes an adult speaker. Students gather to pray for each other, their school, community, nation and world.

Students at Baker and Crestview lifted up students and communities in other parts of Florida that were unable to participate in SYATP as they were taking shelter as Hurricane Ian made landfall.

Students from churches across North Okaloosa County finished the day with a See You at the Pole rally at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Baker on Wednesday night.
Twin sisters Abby and Ella Holland, juniors at CHS, were among the students at Crestview that joined.

“With everything going on right now, it’s right to be together and pray,” Abby said. “I think when we show unity people understand why we are doing things and why we are happy.”

Ella said it was important to attend the event with Abby.

“It’s very important for all of us because it gives a chance to pray,” Ella said. “We are in small circles and then we go to a big circle around the pole. To know that everyone in the world is praying at the same time is really neat to have a part in that.”

Tyler Eanes, youth pastor at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Baker said, “I think this is essential to their faith. We need to give them opportunities to lead and to rise up as students. God has equipped them in so many ways.”

“Youth pastors are encouraging them to rise up as students and to be the generation that makes change and impacts the world with the Gospel,” he continued. “This is a way for them to impact the world with their faith and make a stand for Jesus.”

A group of student praise band members led the worship at See You at the Pole. Dalton Richards, a 2018 Baker School grad and former Gator football player, delivered the message

Richards spoke of the culture he faced while at Baker that was in opposition to the church and faith culture that is at the center of the lives of many of the students in attendance.

He then spoke from Acts 8 and reminded the students that the early church was in a culture that opposed it. He told them about men such as Philip, a leader in the early church, that shared the Gospel with all those God put in their paths.

Richards challenged the young people to go against the culture of today and be bold in sharing the message of Jesus.

“It’s extremely important to encourage these kids to live their life for Christ and to trust in what they know,” Richards said. “To know God’s will for your life is simple, it’s to know God’s Word.
“And that’s exactly what God commanded us to do is go and share Christ and that’s what I wanted to encourage the kids to do.”

Culinary classes among most popular at Crestview High

Tingle’s first restaurant job came in the fast-food industry at age 15, but it wasn’t until he was in college at Georgia Southern University that he found his passion for food. After three years as a geology major, Tingle moved into Hotel and Restaurant Management.

The opportunity to work in the kitchen during an internship changed his life and fueled the passion he passes on to the students at Crestview.

“Every student gets Serve Safe certification and curriculum (the national certification to assure kitchens are up to standards in the storage, preparation and safe quality of food),” Tingle said. “About 75% of the students receive certification that is a national certification that is pretty tough to get.
“The rest of the class, besides food safety, we are talking about basic cooking techniques, sauces and stuff. Even if they don’t go into the culinary field, it’s a life skill. They are learning to measure and read recipes and those things.”

The program has four levels with 168 students currently enrolled. The classes are so popular that students must apply to take the classes. Each year as many as 100 or more students are turned away.

Students wanting to get in for the first level must receive a teacher recommendation.

Once in the course, students that show a desire to go into the culinary field and those that have received the Serve Safe certification receive the top consideration.

The level one course covers basic cooking techniques and Serve Safe. More advanced kitchen skills are taught as students move through the higher-level courses.

Once a student receives the Serve Safe certification it makes them more hirable for restaurants looking for someone that can help maintain health standards and guidelines within the kitchen.

Tingle also teaches at Northwest Florida State College, and he said about a dozen students each year will continue their culinary education in college while others will go straight into a restaurant setting.

During a student’s time in the CHS Culinary Arts program they will learn how to prepare foods from around the world. The class has been cooking Hispanic foods in conjunction with September being Spanish Heritage month.

Students will explore the cuisine of Italy, France, the Caribbean and other world nations and regions.

Culinary students also prepare food for events such as the recent Hall of Fame reception or a pregame meal for a Bulldog athletic team.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Tingle and his students is the 50-minutes they have for each class period. It’s almost impossible to prepare a dish, much less a meal, in less than an hour.

“We are typically cooking on Thursday and Friday,” he said. “Thursday is our prep day. Friday is the finalize, plate it up and evaluate it.
“In that 50 minutes I have to do a demonstration and allow them time to prepare the dish and then clean up.”

Tingle works around some of the time issues by modifying dishes such as using boneless chicken as opposed to the bone in chicken a recipe might require.

Tingle knows most of the students will end up in a profession unrelated to the culinary arts. He just wants to help them learn some skills and enjoy themselves.

“This class is all about exposure,” he said. “I try to expose the student to as many different things as possible. So that when you do graduate and get out of here, you recall something and say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember seeing that in chef class.’”

Bulldogs return to Heartbreak Hotel

The Bulldogs took a 9-3 lead into the fourth quarter as the home fans at Jack Foster were rocking. That’s before the Eagles scored 10 fourth quarter points to sneak out with a 13-9 win.

Bulldog coach Thomas Grant could only shake his head at missed opportunities.

“We dropped what could have been a Pick Six (interception return for touchdown),” he said. “We kept doing things to shoot ourselves in the foot.

“Our defense did a great job. We just weren’t able to finish. We just have to do a better job of coaching.”

The loss dropped Crestview to 2-3 on the season with the three losses being by a combined eight points.

The highlight of the game for the Bulldogs came on their opening drive of the night. After a delay of game penalty, before Crestview snapped the ball, the Bulldogs marched 85 yards for the first touchdown of the game.

Quarterback Jerome Brazan and running back Jayson Jones were a dynamic duo on the drive. Jones carried the ball for 42 of the 85 yards, with one run of 40 yards. Brazan took care of the other 43 including a touchdown that covered 31 yards.

Crestview was up 6-0 less than four minutes into the game.

The Eagles moved the ball on their opening possession getting to the Crestview 35-yard line before coughing up a fumble on a fourth-down play on which Niceville lost 15 yards.

The Bulldogs came up empty on the possession as would become a recurring theme throughout the remainder of the game.

Crestview had 98 yards of offense in the first quarter but was only able to muster 84 yards of offense the rest of the game.

Crestview pinned the Eagles at their own 1-yard line early in the second quarter. A Niceville punt to the Eagle 42 put the Bulldogs at a prime spot to start the possession on what would be their final scoring drive of game.

Brazan had three carries totaling 31 yards to help Crestview get the ball to the Niceville 8-yard line. That’s where the drive stalled and Koas Hansen came in to boot a 32-yard field goal.

The score remained 9-0 throughout the remainder of the second quarter and through the third quarter.

The Eagles scored their first points of the night on a 3-yard run by Deangelo Shorts. The big play of the drive was a 31-yard pass from Harrison Orr to Maddax Fayard. Niceville also received the benefit of a questionable pass interference call.

But that’s the way things seem to go when a team is struggling.

Crestview still led 9-7 with 6:21 left in the game, and all the Bulldogs needed was a sustained drive to hold on to the football and take the win.

Jones opened the drive with runs of 16 and seven yards before the drive stalled.

Orr hit Fayard with a 43-yard pass and Shorts scored from 17 yards out as with 4:11 left in the game the Eagles led for the first time.

Niceville trailed Crestview more than 39 minutes and only led the Bulldogs four minutes and 11 seconds. But that 4:11 were the final minutes of game as the Eagles completed the comeback.

Jones led the Bulldogs with 81 yards rushing. Brazan had 63 yards rushing and threw for 28.

Bulldogs hold on to beat Milton

The Panthers spotted the Bulldogs the first two sets before clawing back into the match. In the end, Crestview had a difference maker named Gabby Sheffield. Just when it seemed as if Milton would steal the victory in the fifth and deciding set, Sheffield stepped up with four kills down the home stretch.

Sheffield’s heroics were enough to save the day as Crestview took the five-set thriller 25-18, 25-12, 20-25, 23-25, 17-15.

“We came out and played well the first two sets,” Bulldog coach James Kerrell said. “But then in the third and fourth sets we let up mentally and didn’t execute like we should.

“Milton kept playing and didn’t give up and took it to a fifth set. But neither did our girls (give up) and we were fortunate to come out on top.”

Gabby Sheffield, a senior who recently committed to play volleyball at the University of Mobile, might have been the force that put the Bulldogs over the top at the end, but it was little sister, Aubrey Sheffield, a freshman, who sparked Crestview early.

Aubrey was in serve to open the first set as the Bulldogs jumped to a 6-0 lead and never trailed in the set. Lillian Ibi and Avery Price helped the early rally with a key block and Heidi Sheikho delivered a big kill.

Gabby Sheffield’s first of an unofficial 15 kills came with Sheikho in serve in the opening set to put Crestview up 8-1. With Abigail Fordyce serving the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 13-3 before Milton mounted a comeback in the set.

Crestview continued to hit on all cylinders as Erica Duenas got into the act with three kills in the set and the Bulldogs held on for the comfortable first-set win.

Milton led 3-0 in the second set before the Bulldogs got things going. A serving error by the Panthers put Crestview on the scoreboard.

Aubrey Sheffield served as Crestview scored the next five points. Aubrey had an ace in the stretch and Duenas a kill.

The set was tied 10-10 when Gabby Sheffield took over in serve. Sheikho got hot with four kills as the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run to take control of the set.

Milton took control of the third set early and never took the pressure off Crestview in winning the set 25-20.

The Panthers seemed to be on life support in the fourth set when Gabby Sheiffield and Emmaleigh Morris teamed up for a block to put Crestview up 18-10. The Panthers closed out the set outscoring Crestview 15-5 to send to the deciding set.

The biggest Bulldog lead of the set came at 5-2. The Panthers seemed to have the upper hand with an 11-8 lead and only needing four points to take the match.

The Sheffield sisters and Sheikho were up to the challenge though. Fordyce was serving when a Gabby Sheffield kill pulled Crestview even at 14-14. Milton scored and was one point away from completing the comeback.

Two kills by Sheffield and a well-placed serve by Sam Kerrell were the final points of the night as Crestview outlasted Milton for the win.

Celebrating 100 years of God’s work

Much has changed in the last 100 years. Baker is still a small country community but is quickly growing. The dirt roads that made up most of the travel routes have long since been covered with asphalt.

The Giants moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958. The nation has experienced a depression, numerous wars, a pandemic and the world has moved into the jet age and age of electronic media and artificial intelligence.

Through all those changes, Shady Grove has remained a beacon of light in Baker and the surrounding areas. Sunday, October 2, the church celebrates its 100th Birthday Homecoming with a special service beginning at 10 a.m.

Fittingly enough, the church is known as “The Lighthouse,” in the community.

Joe Slusser, a deacon at Shady Grove said the church became known as the Lighthouse in the community through ministries such as childcare ministry. Parents would drop their children off at the church before work and the church would take the children to school and pick them up and bring them back to the church so the parents could pick them up in the evening.

That reputation grew through revival services that often lasted until 2 a.m.

“Everything has been about God, and they have done so many things in community,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody in the church.

Former Shady Grove Julian Walker, who preached at the 50-year celebration, will be back to preach for year 100. The Heritage Trio will be on hand to provide the special music. There will be a Diner on the Grounds lunch in the church’s Fellowship Hall following the service at noon.

The celebration will continue throughout the afternoon with music, games and plenty of fellowship.

If you attend another local church, Shady Grove invites you to join them for lunch and the afternoon fun.

Jeanette Locke is 86 and she has been a part of the church since she was five making her the longest, if not oldest member of the congregation having witnessed more than 80 percent of the church’s history.

“We have a wonderful church, and it is known as the Lighthouse in the community,” Mrs. Locke said. “We are not a church, we are family. We call ourselves, ‘The Family of God.’

“If one person hurts, the whole church does. We have a very caring church.”

The church’s last pastor recently retired after nine years, and they are looking for a new shepherd to lead the flock at Shady Grove.

Slusser said several men have expressed interest coming to pastor the church.

It seems appropriate that as Shady Grove Assembly of God celebrates 100 years of ministry the church will be moving into the next century under a new pastor.

“We are excited,” Slusser said. “This is our stepping into the future.”

It’s not hard to imagine the first members of Shady Grove had a similar vision of stepping into the then unknown future. And what a hundred years it has been.