PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Bay High football team has been patiently waiting for the 2021 season to roll around because they feel it’s their year.
“It’s just a new season for butt kicking,” Bay offensive lineman Kenneth McManigal said.
Two years ago, the Tornadoes only won one game. Then just last season, they turned it around with a 5-3 overall record.
This year, they hope to do even better than that.
“So now this is the year to take the next step, we’ve been a good program, but we wanna be great. Bay High has a tradition of excellence, the only state championship in town so why not this team? Why not this team to carry on that tradition and have some success in the playoffs?” Bay head football coach Keith Bland said.
The Tornadoes are confident they can do that this year.
Why? Because they feel they are veterans on the field.
That one-win team two years ago was made up of freshman and sophomores, who are now juniors and seniors.
“Will Smiley seems like he’s been here forever, but he’s only halfway through his high school career so we’re excited about having that experience, but it’s got to equate to wins. That’s what we are talking about: consistency. We had a lot more consistent weeks last year, but it’s got to be every day, every week,” Bland said.
Smiley has been the starting quarterback for Bay since he was a freshman and he sees a big difference in this team versus the others he’s been a part of.
“From my freshman year to like people not coming to practice, to people not wanting to play football, to now, people love football, coming to practice, coming to workouts, we’ve changed a lot and I can’t thank no one but Coach Bland and all my coaches for that,” Smiley said.
It’s not gonna be a walk in the park for the Tornadoes though, as they start off their year with three tough games.
Their kickoff classic against Enterprise on August 20, their first regular season game against Arnold on August 26, and then Mosley the week after that.
“Our big physical test will be the first three games of the season, not saying games later on aren’t just as big but when you look at our schedule those are our three big schools so to get to the playoffs and to sow that success we have to play that schedule,” Bland said.