You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Pahokee uses bye week before Class 1A championship game to ‘get fresh’

Friday night will be a quiet one for the unbeaten Pahokee football team.

The Blue Devils, who clinched a berth in the Class 1A state championship game last week with a 21-19 victory over Madison County, don’t play until Dec. 8.

The rare week off in between the state semifinals and finals comes as a result of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s decision to move its football championship game from Charlotte, N.C., to Orlando. That game will played Saturday.

The change pushed the Class 1A through 4A state championship games at Camping World Stadium from this weekend to next weekend. All eight state title games will be played in a three-day span Dec. 8-10.

Pahokee (13-0), which finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, and unranked Baker (13-0) will play first. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Dec. 8.

Blue Devils coach Orson Walkes said the extra week between games will be good for Pahokee, which will get additional time to recover from a difficult postseason stretch that included games against three state-ranked opponents (No. 4 Newberry, No. 3 Trenton and No. 1 Madison County).

“The extra time will help,” Walkes said. “It’s been a brutal playoff run. Not that we were really banged up, but it’s always good to get fresh again.”

Eight teams will have an extra week to prepare for their state championship games, while eight others (Classes 5A-8A) will have the typical week of preparation after playing their state semifinal contests Friday.

FHSAA spokesman Kyle Niblett said he was unaware of another situation where teams had to wait an extra week to play their state championship games.

“We realize the uniqueness of the 1A-4A teams waiting two weeks to play a game,” he said. “But we believe this occurrence will benefit them in several ways.”

At Pahokee, it was mostly business as usual this week.

Walkes did not give his players a day off, but did limit the physicality of practice sessions. Players did not wear pads until mid-week.

“We lightened the load a little bit,” said Walkes, a first-year head coach and former Pahokee football standout. “We wanted to give the kids’ bodies time to heal up from last week. Our schedule is the same. We just changed the approach.”

Walkes and his players are readying for another big challenge in Baker.

Though the Gators aren’t state-ranked like the Blue Devils’ previous three opponents, they are unbeaten.

Baker (13-0), located in the Panhandle area about two hours west of Tallahassee, won its first 11 games by an average of 34 points before pulling out a pair of close wins during the past two weeks.

The Gators, who play a similar style of football to Pahokee, defeated Graceville 21-14 in the regional finals, and edged Blountstown 20-19 in the state semifinals last week.

“We just got the film, but they seem versatile on offense,” Walkes said. “They’ve got a stout defense, which is similar to ours. The offense is similar to our offense and our formations. They spread the ball around pretty good. They have a good run game and pass game. It’ll be a good state championship game.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Coca-Cola wins Ylvisaker Cup with emotional overtime victory

In an emotionally-charged game, Coca-Cola rallied for a thrilling 9-8 overtime victory over Tonkawa to capture the USPA Ylvisaker Cup Sunday at International Polo Club Palm Beach. Coca-Cola patron Gillian Johnston and team captain Julio Arellano dedicated the game to 17-year-old Donovan Stratemann, who died in a polo accident at Santa Clara Polo Club...
Stewart, Catch Me repeat as winners in Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular

Scott Stewart and Catch Me won the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular for the second year in a row Saturday night at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Stewart and his 10-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding won the “Saturday Night Lights” event after topping a field of 29 riders in the field, including 12...
Miami Dolphins look to trade Branden Albert for Julius Thomas
Miami Dolphins look to trade Branden Albert for Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas could be headed to the Dolphins. (Getty Images) The Dolphins‘ search for a playmaking tight end and a trade partner for departing left tackle Branden Albert could intersect in the next few weeks.
NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins’ round-by-round best picks in history
NFL Draft: Miami Dolphins’ round-by-round best picks in history

Every year, stars emerge from all over the NFL Draft. Two of the best quarterbacks in recent history were No. 1 overall pick Peyton Manning and sixth-rounder Tom Brady. Shannon Sharpe, Ken Houston and Richard Dent all went in the seventh round or later. Of the Dolphins’ nine Hall of Famers, just four were first-round picks. More recently, last...
Which older players can Dolphins count on besides Cameron Wake?
Which older players can Dolphins count on besides Cameron Wake?

The Dolphins think Cameron Wake has at least two more years of being able to do this. (Getty Images) One reason the Dolphins are optimistic about their future is they pulled off last year’s breakout season with roster in which 77 percent of the players were 28 or younger.
More Stories