Freeport High School will field its 43rd football team this Friday, as the Bulldogs will host South Walton in the 2018 Kick-Off-Classic. The pre-season scrimmage will not count towards either team’s official win-loss record, and both programs have agreed to play projected non-starters for the entire second half.
The two county foes, whose rivalry is known as “The Battle of the Bay”, have competed against each in twelve regular season contest since South Walton fielded its first varsity squad in 2003. However, following the 2016 season, Freeport announced it would be temporarily discontinuing the regular season series to help defuse growing tension in what had become one of the areas most heated rivalries. Still, this will be the second consecutive season the programs have agreed to face-off in the Kick-Off-Classic, with Freeport earning an unofficial 21-7 “win” last year.
Freeport is under the direction of its second-year head coach, Shaun Arntz, who served as an assistant coach at the school from 2008-2016. Prior to his coaching days, Arntz was a standout player on Freeport’s 2002 squad that finished 9-3 and earned the first playoff victory in school history. Arntz’s school-record 99-yard touchdown reception that year against Cottondale became one of the most memorable plays in school history and helped Freeport win the key district contest. After High School, Arntz graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi, where the Freeport native was a walk-on football player.
Last season, Arntz’s first crew finished 5-5 in a season that saw the Bulldogs win four of five games down the stretch, but suffered a 40-21 loss to Jay in a season finale that cost the Bulldogs a playoff berth. Heading into 2018, the Bulldogs are looking to iron out an offense that suffered last months unexpected transfer of running back K’wan Powell to Vernon, and a defense that struggled in 2017.
The Bulldogs will play five of their regular season contest within the friendly confines of Bulldog Stadium, including the home opener against Pike Liberal Arts School (Al) on Friday, August 31st. Kick-off for all games is set for 7:00 pm. Admission to home games is $6.00.
A full comprehensive preview of this year’s Freeport team, along with Walton and South Walton, will be available in the Defuniak Herald/Beach Breeze on Wednesday, August 22nd. Price is 75 cents at newsstands across town, including Publix, Express Lane, Texaco, Dollar General, and LC’s Pizza and Subs.