MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB)– The Marianna football team will take on Gadsden County in the Class 4A Region 1 Final game on Friday.
This is the first time the Bulldogs have made it this far in the playoffs since the year 2000.
“Twenty years since anybody has got to practice on Thanksgiving day like we’ll do tomorrow, so it’s a big deal, we’re awful proud for our school and community,” Marianna head football coach John Donaldson said.
If Marianna can pick u the win and advance to the state semifinals, it will be the first time a Bulldogs team has done so in two decades.
“We ain’t ever did that in a long time, so being able to go off to like somewhere else and playing that would be great,” Marianna football player Charles Davis said.
To advance, Marianna will need to beat the Jaguars, a team they fell to early in the season. However, the Bulldogs feel they have improved since then and know what to expect out of their opponent.
“We’re definitely gonna have to play more physical, because they’re a physical team and we have to be faster and get to the ball with everybody on it,” Marianna football player Trey Highsmith said.
“We’d like to think we’re a lot better than we were six or eight weeks ago you know, we see evidence of that and we hope to come out and play better and hang on to the football and do what we want to do,” Donaldson said.
The team is led by a group of about 20 seniors. Many of those players joined the team this year and started to contribute quickly. Others have been working toward this season since middle school.
“That’s when you really show experience, is in games like this where we’ve played in playoff games and we’ve done it all, so I think that will definitely show and our just will to win,” Marianna football player Blake Barber said.
Amid the pandemic, the seniors have played the entire season not knowing which game may be their last, so the win or go home situation doesn’t rattle them too much.
“It’s always good to be in the playoffs, but when you think about it it’s just another game to us really for our seniors we just try to play every game like it’s our last,” Marianna football player Ethan Taylor said.
Friday’s game will be played in Marianna, so the Bulldogs hope their fans will come to support them as they always do despite the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It’s great that we get to be there with our own crowd and our fans and they’re cheering us on, it’s good to be there,” Marianna football player Bo Ham said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Marianna.