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Spring football heating up for Bulldogs

“What I like is the effort and the attention to detail,” Grant said. “The young men are doing a really great job of paying attention to detail. Whether it’s in the locker room or out here at practice, they are very respectful to the coaching staff.

“To be honest with you, right now there is nothing to be worried about. The only thing I have to be worried about is if we get banged up (a lot of injuries) in spring. I would like to come out of spring 100 percent healthy.

Don’t expect to see a lot of differences in the offense run under Tim Hatten, but Grant, an old offensive lineman, said the Bulldogs will have times when they might play a little more power football and run at people. But when all is said and done, it will just be a matter of taking advantage of the opponent’s soft spots.

“The one thing I learned from coach Hatten is you have to take what the defense gives you,” Grant said. “If the defense wants to lighten the box (drop more defenders back in pass coverage) then we have to be able to run it against the lighter box. If the team want to stack the box and make you throw it, you have to win one-on-one matchups and attack the perimeters (with the pass).

“On offense we are trying to find their weakness and how we can attack it. We want to get our best player on one of their weaker players. Today (May 3) we scrimmaged and I’ve been very happy with what I’ve seen so far.”

Bulldogs win overtime thriller to advance in playoffs

And what a finish it was. Crestview unleased an 11-2 run over the next three minutes tying the game at 33-33 on a 3-pointer Makhi Jones on their way to a 39-37 overtime win.

Crestview travels to Ponte Vedra on Tuesday for a Sweet 16 matchup.

Close games are nothing new to this team. So the pressure was nothing new to the Bulldogs (20-8), who lost five games on last second shots.

“We’ve been in a bunch of close games,” Crestview coach Greg Watson said. “I knew it would be a close game.”

At times, both teams looked ready to take over.

Crestview delivered the first big blow of the game, posting an early 10-4 lead as Elston Winston, D.B. Howard, Teekari Tolbert and Jones scored in the first seven minutes.  Jake Larsen hit a 3-pointer for the Panthers as time expired in the first quarter as Nease narrowed the Bulldog lead to 10-7.

Nease (19-8) was able to control the tempo with a slow-down offense, coupled with deadly 3-point shooting to go up 21-15 at the half. 

At that point, the question seemed to be if the Bulldogs would be able to get into their preferred style of play, using their quickness to force turnovers and turn them into points.

“They try to keep the tempo slow and get the ball to 12 (Logan Ryan) or 5 (Larsen),” Watson said. “The game was not in our tempo. We never could get the tempo our way.”

“When we finally did, and forced some turnovers, we were able to get the crowd into the game.”

In a span of 44 seconds early in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs scored five unanswered points to cut the Nease lead to four points. Howard, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14 points, scored four in the quick stretch. Jones added a free throw.

When Jones nailed a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:30 left in the fourth, the Dawg Pound student section erupted, shaking the packed gym.

A Tolbert score on a tip in gave the Bulldogs a 35-33 lead, their first since midway through the second. Jack Sullivan scored for the Panthers with 2:10 left in regulation tying the game at 35-35, but neither team could find the net in the final 130 seconds of regulation.

Ryan scored his final basketball of the season with 2:22 left in overtime to put Nease in front one last time. A Russell Moorer basket with 39 seconds left in OT put the Bulldogs up one. Twelve seconds later, Moorer stole a Nease pass and dished the ball off to Jones for the game’s final basket.

A desperation shot by Nease as the horn sounded bounced awkwardly off the rim as the celebration began for Bulldogs.

Watson has watched this team improve over the course of the season, and the win Thursday was evidence of that improvement.

“In December we would have lost this game,” he said. “But we’ve grown and were able to handle the adversity. Tonight, is as proud as I’ve been of a team since the state championship (in 2019).”

Muse shines at state meet for Bulldogs

All the Crestview sophomore had to do at this point at the FHSAA 3A state weightlifting meet was give her fans a little more to cheer about.
And she did.

Muse executed her final lift to perfection. She smiled knowing she had gotten the job done, setting two personal bests, and walked towards her coach with open arms for a hug to celebrate. She also shared a group hug with the Navarre lifters who cheered her on.

“It’s amazing,” Muse said. “That’s an all-time PR for me in the clean and jerk and PR total (300 pounds). I tried for 175 at regionals and didn’t get it. This was my redemption. I did it when it counted.”

That she did and Muse’s effort was enough to catapult her to a third-place finish in the 110-pound weight class. She also placed second in snatch, which involves lifting the barbell from the floor to an overhead position in a single motion. She recorded a lift of 120 pounds in that category.

Teammate Cierra Ezell also competed for the Bulldogs at state. She finished 13th in snatch in the 169-pound weight class and took 12th in the traditional meet with a total lift of 305.

For Muse, this was her second trip to state, and this time the nerves didn’t get to her as much.

Cierra Ezell competed at state for Crestview as well.

“It’s a different feeling than the first time,” Muse said. “There were more nerves then. This time, it was more adrenaline.”

Her coach couldn’t have been prouder. 

“She had a great day and really saw all of her hard work pay off,” Pottinger said. “It was great to see Madi and Cierra get here. They earned it and hopefully we can get more girls here in the future.”

Muse is poised to return again next season considering how well the early part of her high school career has gone. It’s gone better than expected, according to Muse.

“I didn’t think I’d get here two times in a row,” Muse said. “The goal this year was to get to state and it’s an amazing accomplishment to be able to lift in front of all these people and be supported by so many people.”

Muse did her best to stay loose prior to competing Thursday morning, jumping up and down while also watching her competition closely.

She looked calm and focused during each lift and was glad to see the day end on a high note, the hard work she put into the sport paying off.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” Muse said.

While Muse said she’ll take time to enjoy the success of this year, it won’t be long before she’s back to work. She said she’ll spend a lot of time improving her bench press in the offseason.

“There’s always something I can improve on,” Muse said. “I’ll put in a lot of time and a lot of hours, especially on the bench.”

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