PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Football season is right around the corner which means the return of our annual “21 Teams in 21 Days” segment. From now until the start of football season, we will bring you detailed previews of each team in our area.
For our fifth preview of the year, we walked across the street to check out the Bay Tornadoes.
Bay is under new leadership this year as head coach Keith Bland gets ready to kick off his first season with the team.
Bland said he’s excited to coach at the school that has the only football state championship in Bay County.
“This is a program that three years ago won the county championship for two years back to back. The Hurricane really set us back with a housing situation for a lot of these young men, but the excuses are over that was 10 months ago,” Bland said. “We’re still gonna line up and kick off on Friday night and come out and represent bay high school and just get after our opponents and play fair and play hard and enjoy the success we’ll have.”
The tornadoes will be young this year with just three senior starters back from last year’s team, but there will actually be 11 seniors total. A few of which are stepping onto a football field for the first time this season.
At quarterback, returning senior Nolan Baxley will take the snaps for the first time after playing tight end and defensive end. He actually had a surgery right before spring practice so this week has been his first chance to get out on the field.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” Baxley said. “But I’m getting pretty comfortable stepping into that position.”
Bland is confident in what he can do on the field this season.
“Even though he had the surgery right before spring practice, he was here every day, learning, listening, coaching up,” Bland said about Baxley. “Willingness to try, he’s a very intelligent young man, and when you look at your quarterback, it’s the guys you look up to that not only know whats going on but that commitment and hard work and dependability that they accept in that position.”
Bay will open up the season against Graceville in a Thursday night game on Aug. 22.