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Gators prepare for spring football game

The spring game will be the debut of new coach Barry Gardner. Gardner was named head coach April 30.
The Gators will keep the basic format that most teams run in a spring game.

“It will be best against best on varsity,” Gardner said. “JV (junior varsity) best against best and then middle school best against best). We are just trying to get people in position and to play hard. Practice is going pretty good,” Gardner said. “We are getting some work in. We are getting used to the hot weather, so that’s great.

“We’ve been trying to get our bodies thinned down,” Gardner continued. “On offense and defense we are working getting our heads across in tackling (proper technique).”


Gardner, who is also the head baseball coach, said splitting things up hasn’t been bad as the football Gators were able to get in a full week of practice in week one and only missed a day or two in the second week of practice. He did note the track athletes are still competing in their season.

The admission to the spring game is $10 and includes a barbecue plate.

Crestview drops district semifinal to Tate

Hit batters, wild pitches and runners left on base were things that went wrong at the worst possible times. All of those things played a role in 12-2 loss the Bulldogs suffered at the hands of the Aggies. The game was call in the fifth inning on the 10-run mercy rule.

“They are a good team,” Crestview coach Tim Gillis said. “We weren’t sharp. Our pitchers weren’t sharp and that’s kind of the name of the game.

“They had one of the best pitchers (Josiah Glodfelter) in the area going and we actually had some pretty good at-bats against him. We put ourselves in a pretty good position, but we’ve got to match them with it.”

Even when the going was good for the Bulldogs, it wasn’t good for long.

Crestview loaded the bases in the top of the first inning with one out and pushed a run across when Anthony St. Vincent walked to score Maddox Wesolowski. But then Ke’Andre Edwards hit into a double play to end the inning.

Wesolowski got the Bulldog offense started with a one-out single. A walk to Joe Thomas was followed by a Javin Shoemake single to load the bases.

Brayden Ruschmeier hit a home run to lead off the second inning for Crestview. The Bulldogs then made two quick outs before Bryce Dolce and Wesolowski reached on hits before the rally ended.

After recording five hits in the first two innings the Bulldogs only had one hit the rest of the way.

In the mean time the Aggies were making the most of Crestview’s miscues scoring five runs in the first inning, two in the second and five more in the fourth.

Ruschmeier got the start on the mound for the Bulldogs, but the usually reliable junior had a rough day lasting just two and one-third innings. Kenya McCrae replaced Ruschmeier with two runners on base and one out.

McCrae pulled the Bulldogs out of the jam in the only inning the Aggies didn’t score. McCrae faltered in the fourth inning and gave way to Ben Plunkett.

Plunkett was unable to retire the two batters he faced and was pulled for Bryson Martin, who finished out the inning for the Bulldogs.

Crestview still has a chance to make the playoffs. The Bulldogs will learn whether or not they will be in the playoffs on Saturday.

Crestview’s Krumnow snatches victory at state

It was the first year Florida lifters have competed in the snatch.

“It’s a little surreal just knowing that you are in the (record) books forever,” Krumnow said, “no matter what happens. At first, I was iffy on if I wanted to do the snatch because it’s such a complicated movement, but then I figured, ‘Why not?’ And it worked out.”

Krumnow had a personal best snatch of 220 pounds to beat District 1-3A rival Mack Smith of Navarre. Smith had beaten Krumnow at the district and region meets.

Bulldog coach Thomas Grant said the competition between Krumnow and Smith had been great to watch all year.

“It was awesome,” he said. “Him (Krumnow) and the Navarre kid were going back and forth most of the year in district and regionals. We came up with a game plan to make sure we got a (qualifying) lift in and then we were going to go ahead of him (Smith with a heavier lift). In weightlifting if you tie, whoever weighs less gets the tiebreaker.”

In taking fifth in traditional competition, Patterson showed how much his hard work paid off.

“This young man (Patterson), in his four-year career at Crestview, he’s one of the three or four hardest workers I’ve been around,” Grant said. “Marcus was at eighth or seventh (in the state) going into the meet. He was able to add 25 pounds to his total in 10 days to get fifth place, and that’s unbelievable.

Krumnow was as excited for Patterson as he was for himself.

“Seeing Marcus succeed at what he’s been trying for the last four years was exciting,” he said. “Knowing that you grow up with these guys for four years and you train with them in the weight room and to see him succeed as well.”

Patterson and Krumnow are both football players. Patterson will continue his football career at Western Kentucky next year and Krumnow will be a senior. Grant sees a bright future on the football field for both athletes.

“He’s (Patterson) is going to Western Kentucky next year and I expect big things from him,” Grant said. “Caleb is going to be a senior on the football team and think this momentum is really going to be good for him going into spring and then the fall.”

Krumnow is already thinking about making it back to state next year.

“The plan right now is to compete at 219 again,” he said. “But we are going to watch the way the competition in the weight class is going. It could be 238 doesn’t have as good of weightlifters and I could bulk up to 238 to compete as opposed to do 219.”

Bulldogs take wild win from Indians

But as St. Vincent began to tire, the Indians mounted a comeback tying the game at 6-6 after six innings.

In the end, Crestview came out on top as Bryce Dolce scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning on the fifth Indian wild pitch of the game giving the Bulldogs a 7-6 win.

“It was a high school baseball game, I’ll say it that way,” Crestview coach Tim Gillis said. “Anthony was cruising along and he got a little bit tired there. He had a big pitch inning there in the sixth and he got to his pitch count numbers and I had to take him out.

“He just kind of held on.”

To say St. Vincent was masterful in the first half of the game would be no exaggeration. Through four innings he hadn’t allowed a hit and the only Choctaw base runner reached after striking out and the ball going to the backstop.

St. Vincent struck out six and only got to a three-ball count on one Indian batter during the impressive stretch.

While St. Vincent was taking care of things on the mound, the Bulldog batters were doing their best to make life miserable for Choctaw starting pitcher Dillon Rand.

With two out in the bottom of the first inning Joe Thomas started a Crestview rally with the first of three consecutive hits that led to three Bulldog runs.

Thomas reached on an infield single and moved to second base on a Rand wild pitch. Javen Shoemake was next with a single to left field scoring Thomas. Shoemake took second base when the Indians tried to throw Thomas out at home.

St. Vincent helped his own cause with a RBI single to right. Courtesy runner Kenya McRae took over on the bases for St. Vincent. McRae moved to second base on a wild pitch and later scored on a wild pitch.

Brady Vann led off the Bulldog second inning with a double. And, in what was a theme for the early part of the game, later scored on a Rand wild pitch.

Crestview upped the lead to 5-0 in the third when Shoemake reached on an error, stole second, took third on a ground out by Ke’Andre Edwards. Shoemake scored on, you guessed it, another wild pitch.

Rand was replaced on the mound by Kobe Riggs in the third inning and kept the Bulldogs on a short leash the rest of the way as Choctaw climbed back into the game.

St. Vincent walked Indian leadoff batter, Dom Williams in the top of the fifth inning. St. Vincent finally gave up a hit to Sam Duggan with one out in the fifth. Duggan’s hit scored Williams.  

Crestview pushed the lead back to five runs in the bottom of the inning when Shoemake singled and later scored the fourth Bulldog run of the game on a wild pitch, this one by Riggs.

St. Vincent ran out of gas in the sixth inning with two outs, one run in and the bases loaded. Bryson Martin entered the game in relief of St. Vincent and was touched for two base hits and was unable to get out of the inning.

The Indians had two runners on base and four runs in when Brayden Ruschmeier got the call to put down the Indian uprising. Ruschmeier, who didn’t have much time to get loose, gave up a hit allowing Choctaw to score the tying run, before getting the final out of the inning.

The game was tied at 6-6 heading into the seventh inning. Ruschmeier retired the Indians in order in the top of the seventh giving the Bulldogs the opportunity for a walk off win.

“I really thought he threw the ball well after his first inning,” Gillis said of Ruschmeier’s performance. “I didn’t have the luxury of getting him hot because we had a long pitch inning.

“After that first inning he looked really good in the seventh.”

And that’s what happened as the theme of the game continued.

Dolce led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. Dolce took third as Thomas singled with one out. The Indians intentionally walked Shoemake before Dolce scored on one last wild pitch with St. Vincent at the plate.

Ruschmeier picked up the win for Crestview. Riggs took the loss for Choctaw.   

“They’ve got a good team, Gillis said of the Indians. “I don’t think they’ve lost but one game in about a month. So it was a quality to win for us.

“The had some wild pitches and passed balls that helped us, but it was a quality win for us. The bottom line is we’ve got to keep piling up wins if we want to get in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter who it’s against, wins are going to get us there.”

Gators come up inches short

Baker took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Alaynah Smith walked and scored on a Jena Fedorak double. The scored remained 1-0 in favor of the home team until Jay came to bat in the top of the fifth inning.

The fifth inning, and in turn the game, came down to a matter of inches on plays that went in favor of the Royals.

With one out, Brooklyn Sorrells was hit by a Gator pitch. Sorrells was still on first when, with two outs, Audrey Watson came to bat.

Watson fouled off a couple of pitches before hitting a line drive down the third base line. Gator third baseman Addie St. John made quick move towards the line drive only to have it glance off her outstretched glove, a matter of inches from making the catch.

One batter later, Ella Nelson, sent a slow roller down the third base line. St. John fielded the ball and stepped on third to seemingly retired Sorrells and end the inning, but the ball was ruled to be a foul ball. Nelson then deposited a drive into center field that hit off the glove of Baker center fielder Carlie Hopps.

The Royals scored twice on the play to take the lead at 2-1.

Fedorak singled and later scored in the sixth inning as the Gators tied the game at 2-2. But a Royal run the top of the seventh sealed Baker’s fate as the Gators were unable to score in the bottom of the inning and fell 3-2.

Gator coach John Carlisle isn’t into moral victories, but he was proud of the way the Gators hung tough with a Royal team that has a recent history of putting up some lopsided wins in the rivalry.

“I’m just so proud of the way the girls competed tonight,” he said. “It was a big challenge. I think they rose up and met that challenge tonight. “They played as well as they could play, save for a couple mistakes here and there. We got a big hit early in the game and that was big for Jena. And Jenna Toups was awesome in the {pi

Ruschmeier dominant in Bulldog win

Crestview’s baseball team had all of those things Monday evening as the Bulldogs hosted Northside Methodist Academy out of Dothan, Ala. Crestview won going away 10-0 in a game that was called after five innings on the 10-run rule.

The good pitching was provided by Brayden Ruschmeier, who went the distance for the shutout win. He allowed just three hits while striking out eight Knight batters and he didn’t allow any walks.

The good fielding is evidence by the fact that the Bulldogs only made one error and were able to give Northside Methodist from crossing the plate.

Timely hitting was provided by almost every Bulldog the batting order. Crestview came up with big hits with men on base.

“I thought we played pretty well tonight,” Bulldog coach Tim Gillis said. “I thought Brayden was as good as he’s been all year. I thought we were really intense, especially in our at-bats.

“I thought we had some quality at bats. The guys put the ball in play with runners in scoring position and moved the runners up. You’ve got to be able to do the little things right, and we did that tonight.”

Crestview (9-3) showed up ready to play.

Ruschmeier wasted no time in recording his first strikeout as he got Knight leadoff man Tyler Quintero swinging. When Bowden Lancaster reached on a base hit it was no big deal as the Bulldog defense turned a double play to get out of the inning.

Crestview got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first when Bryce Dolce singled to left. Maddox Wesolowski reached on the first of his two bunt singles. Dolce came around to score as Javin Shoemake grounded out.

After scoring a single run in the first inning, the Bulldogs were just getting started as they struck for four runs in the second inning.

Ruschmeier drew a walk to lead off the inning and was replaced by courtesy runner Kenya McRae. Tison Breen singled and Paul Lightfoot was safe on an error scoring McRae.

Dolce picked up his second hit of the game as did Wesolowski. Breen, Lightfoot and Dolce all scored. Joe Thomas had a RBI single and Shoemake drove in his second run of the game as Crestview increased the lead to 5-0.

Lightfoot, Dolce, Wesolowski and Thomas scored for the Bulldogs in the fourth inning to push the lead to 9-0.

Ruschmeier struck out the side in the top of the fifth and Crestview need just one run to end the game early.

Lightfoot was hit by a pitch in the foot with one out in the inning. Dolce walked an Wesolowski picked up his fourth hit of the game to load the bases.

Thomas was at the plate when a Knight wild pitch allowed Lightfoot to score ending the game.

Wesolowski led the Bulldogs with four hits, two of which were bunts. Dolce scored three runs and reached safely in all four of his plate appearances with two hits and two walks. Lightfoot reached base in all of his plate appearances and scored three runs.

Monday’s game with Northside Methodist afforded Gillis the opportunity to coach against former Major League player Mike Mordecia. Gillis and Mordecia were minor league teammates for three years in the Atlanta organization.

“I’ve known Mike for a long time,” Gillis said. “He’s a quality individual.

“We stay in touch. We’ve been friends for a long time. And it’s good to see him.”

Brunson steps down as Baker head football coach

But on Thursday, Brunson announced he is stepping down as the head coach. He’ll remain at Baker as the athletic director. Barry Gardner has been named Baker’s interim coach.

Brunson was a part of three Class A state titles as player under head coach John Ensor in 1983, 1984 and 1985. He was an assistant coach for Jeff Webb when the Gators won the Class 2A title in 1993.

Baker’s most recent championship came in 2020 with Brunson as the head coach.

Brunson also led Crestview to the 2002 Class 3A state championship, which is the best finish in Bulldog history. He coached Vernon to Class A state semifinal game in 2000.

“I’ve been in high school coaching for 30 years,” Brunson said. Twenty-five of those as a head coach. I was telling our kids this morning for the last 30 years I’ve never scheduled a vacation except for the week of the fourth of July in the summer because everything in my professional life, in my career, has revolved around football.”

“Because I know how important it is to get off season workouts in, I haven’t taken many days off. It’s definitely going to be a change,” Brunson continued.

Brunson said that with 30 years in the Florida education system he will be eligible to retire next year, and this will give him a chance to slow down and make some decisions about his future.

Brunson’s record speaks for itself.

In 11 seasons at Baker, he is the winningest coach in school history with a 114-21 record and nine consecutive playoff appearances.

In the last seven seasons, the Gators are 72-7 and have been to the state semifinals six times.

Brunson posted a 64-40 record at Crestview. He was 35-12 at Vernon. He won nearly 75% of his games, finishing his career with a 213-73 record. He won close to 85% of his games at Baker.

Brunson’s son, Joe, a 2021 Baker graduate and one of the stars on the 2020 state championship team, is now playing college football and not having to scheme or watch film for the next week’s opponent will give the coach more time to be a dad in the stands.

Brunson gave some other reasons for the timing of his decision.

“I think Baker is in a great spot (moving forward),” he said. “We’ve got some great kids coming back. The coaching staff here is unbelievable.

“The program is going to be left in some very good hands,” Brunson continued. I’m still going to be able to stay as the athletic director. To me it’s an honor to have been the head coach, but it’s also an honor to be the first standalone athletic director.”

Gators nip Eagles in extra innings

The Gators trailed the Eagles 6-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning and things didn’t look good for the home team. That’s when the Baker players showed their toughness and resolve scoring four runs to tie the game at 6-6.

“We got down on some errors of our own, but we battled back and won the game,” coach Barry Gardner said. “That was very high character of our kids to keep competing.”

Two innings later, in the bottom of the eighth, Kurt Armstrong stroked a two-out single to left single to left to score Hayden Hanks from third base to give the Gators a 7-6 walk off win. Hanks led off the inning with a triple.

Pleasant Home took the upper hand from the outset scoring a run in the first inning and another in the second inning.

Baker tied the game at 2-2 with runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

Connor Nivison, who reached on a fielder’s choice, scored the first Gator run when he took home on a throwing error by the Eagle catcher. Baker tied the game in the fifth when Ty Fernandez walked, stole second and scored on a Colton Weekley double.

The Eagles looked as if they had broken the game open when they scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to chase Gator starting pitcher Ethan Williams. Armstrong came on to stop the Pleasant Home rally and picked up the win.

Baker answered the Eagles with four runs of its own as the Gators sent 10 batters to the plate. Stevie Mason started things off when he drew a one-out walk. Kase Armstrong was next and reached on an error.

The Gators had the bases loaded after Judah Morse was hit by a pitch. Mason and Kase Armstrong scored when Nivison was safe on an error. Weekley’s second double in as many innings scored Morse and Nivison setting the stage for the game to go into extra innings when neither team scored in the seventh.

Bulldogs have strong showing at Wildcat Invite

Redmond placed third in the high jump with a leap of 4-feet-8-inches while Speights finished third in the 100 with a time of 11.47. Jacob Anderson took fourth in the 300 hurdles, clocking in at 43.05.

Redmond was fourth in the long jump with a distance of 15-2.

Top 10 Finishes for Crestview

Girls

100: 8. Illianna Rivera, 13.62; 9. Audrey Crawford, 13.63

200: 6. Illianna Rivera, 27.86

400: 9. Kaniel Kimberly, 1:08.07

3200: 8. Addie Brooks, 13:56.51

400 Relay: 6. (Audrey Crawford, Illianna Rivera, Tionna Dortch, Paris Kolmetz) 52.26

1600 Relay: 5. (Audrey Crawford, Marta Elliot, Unique Redmond, Illianna Rivera) 4:29.57

High Jump: 3. Unique Redmond, 4-8; 5. Hailee Hardman, 4-6

Long Jump: 4. Unique Redmond, 15-2; 8. Audrey Crawford, 14-7 1/2

Javelin: 7. Jhett McCosker, 74-11 1/4

Boys

100: 3. Jamarian Speights, 11.47

110 Hurdles: 8. Jacob Anderson, 17.61

300 Hurdles: 4. Jacob Anderson, 43.05

400 Relay: 6. (Thaddius Atchison, Jamarian Speights, Raheim Studevan, Simeon White) 44.62

3200 Relay: 8. (Aaron Bates, Raj LaRue, Ricardo Santiago-Sanchez, Demarion Newton) 9:20.05

Triple Jump: 9. Max Anderson, 38-5 3/4

Thomas, Edwards deliver for Bulldogs

The Bulldogs held an early 4-1 lead only to see the Eagles come back and tie the game at 4-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. And then it was over.

An infield single by designated hitter Ke’Andre Edwards with two outs scored Joe Thomas from third to give the Bulldogs the 5-4 win.

“It was a real good game,” Crestview coach Tim Gillis said. “You had two good teams battling it out. I thought it was a heck of a game.

“Up and down their lineup, they are solid. We knew every out and every pitch was going to be crucial.”

Thomas reached first with one out in the inning on a hustle single as he just beat out an infield hit. He stole second base and went to third as Javin Shoemake reached on a two-out error.

Edwards then delivered the game-winning hit to the hole between third base and shortstop. Eagle shortstop Brock Marello was able to get a glove on the ball, but was unable to make a play as Thomas raced home to give the Bulldogs the win.

In the early going it looked as if the Bulldogs might make quick work of the Eagles as they chased Niceville starting pitcher Ethan Edge in the first inning. Edge only retired one batter, Anthony St. Vincent and even the out, a sacrifice fly to left, scored a run.

Bryce Dolce and Maddox Wesolowski walked to start the Bulldog first after the Eagles scored a run in the top of the inning. A Thomas triple cleared the bases and he scored on the St. Vincent sacrifice.

Crestview added a run in the bottom of the second when Paul Lightfoot was hit by a pitch with one out and came in to score on a Dolce double.

“We had a chance to break it open there, but we didn’t and it almost came back to haunt us,” Gillis said of the missed opportunities in the second inning. “But our guys are a resilient group. It was an awesome night.

“It was really exciting. I’m just glad we hung in there and got it done.”

The Bulldogs didn’t score again until the seventh. In the meantime, the Eagles chipped away scoring two in the fourth and the run in the seventh.

Brayden Ruschmeier got the start on the mound for the Bulldogs and worked the first four innings giving up the three runs on four hits while striking out three Niceville batters.

Tison Breen took the mound for the Bulldogs in the fifth inning and the lefty kept the Eagles off guard throughout his first two innings of work. Breen allowed one hit and walk while striking out two in the fifth and sixth innings.

When Breen walked Jack Dennison to lead off the seventh, Bulldog coach Tim Gillis pulled Dolce from shortstop to the mound. Dennison would come around to score setting the stage for the drama in the bottom of the seventh.

With the spotlight shining brightly the Bulldogs made sure the seventh would be the final act of Tuesday’s game.

Kai Bailey took the tough luck loss on the mound for the Eagles despite working six innings and only giving up two runs.

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