Football season is upon us – and from the looks of it, the Niceville Eagles will have another strong showing under coach Grant Thompson in 2022.
The Eagles posted a 10-2 record in 2021 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to Nease High School – out of Ponte Vedra.
Along the way, they bested all but one of their in-county rivals. They were forced to forfeit their blowout win against Fort Walton Beach High School because the FHSAA ruled they used an ineligible player. The win for Fort Walton Beach would be the Vikings’ only dub for the year.
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The Eagles will start the season with four games at home, then four on the road, a home game, and then another away game. It’s a weird schedule, to be sure, with them on the road against Crestview, Choctaw, Pine Forest, Leon, and Navarre. Let’s take a look at them.
All games start at 7 pm central unless otherwise noted.
Niceville will kick off its season at 7 pm on August 26th, when the team hosts South Florida’s North Miami Beach High School. North Miami Beach had a pedestrian campaign in 2021 and posted a respectable 4-6 record. The Chargers will have to make a 619-mile journey to play the game.
NHS will face its first challenge of the season when it takes on Vanguard High School out of Ocala. The north-central Florida Powerhouse went 11-1 last year. They were undefeated when they met Jones High School (Orlando) in the second round of the playoffs. Jones beat them in a tight 28-26 game to advance. Jones then lost to Pine Forest, a Pensacola-area team which advanced to the state semifinals.
Fort Walton Beach was Niceville’s only regular season loss last year. The Niceville game was also the only game Fort Walton Beach ‘won’ last year. Niceville self-reported that it played an ineligible player in the game – and the FHSAA required the Eagles to forfeit. Fort Walton Beach is 2-16 against Niceville since 2004, including their forfeit last year. The last time the Vikings beat the Eagles was 2007 when the Vikings won 9-7.
Apple released the first iPhone four months before the Vikings’ last win over Niceville (without a forfeit). It’s been a minute since the Vikings beat Niceville in football.
Chiles High School is your classic middle-of-the-road program. Much like my SMU ponies college program, they can lose to terrible teams and upset excellent ones (or, at least, I like to think so). While this may or may not be a trap game for the Eagles, it’s their last home game for 42 days. Regardless of the final score, it may be worth heading out to see this one.
The Eagles will have their first road game down the road in Fort Walton Beach. Choctaw will host Niceville at their campus on Racetrack Road – and hope to perform better against the Maroon and White than they did last year. Niceville smoked The Tribe 39-0 in last year’s contest, and the Indians were 6-4 last year. Choctaw will be without ten seniors from last year’s team, and Niceville won’t have 22 seniors from last year’s total roster.
Niceville will head north to take on perennial rival Crestview High School on the last day of September. The Bulldogs ended up with a 6-4 record last year, but lost to Niceville 42-21 in Niceville. The series has been back and forth over the last couple of years. Niceville has a 6-4 record against the Crestview Bulldogs since 2012, winning in 2012, 2014-5, and 2019-21.
If you are going to head out of town to catch a game – it should be this one. In Escambia County near Pensacola, Pine Forest High School made a deep run in the state playoffs and looks to be a contender again this year.
Don’t let that time change get you – Niceville will visit Leon High in Tallahassee as we move into the back end of the football season. Both Florida State and FAMU will be off that weekend, so there is no way to turn this into a two-game weekend 😕
After the Pine Forest game, the Eagles game against Lynn Haven’s Mosley High School will be the game to watch – and may be the best home game of the year. Mosley comes into Eagle stadium after an 11-2 campaign in 2021, abruptly ended by a Pine Forest team that cut them down 49-14 at the end of last November.
Niceville will head to the beaches of South Santa Rosa County to play Navarre High School for their last regular season game of the year. None of the Raiders who will play in this year’s game have ever beaten the Eagles. Niceville won this game 31-9 last year. 2019’s contest (the teams didn’t play in 2020) was closer; Niceville won 20-7.
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