Top Tri-County football games previewed

Chiefland's Dakota Fisher will travel to Cross City to play Dixie County on Sept. 16.

We’re still almost two months away from the first regular-season high school football game and here is a look at the top contest each week in the Tri-County area during the upcoming season.

Five of the six teams in the Tri-County area (Dixie, Levy and Gilchrist counties) will have a new coach in 2022—Bronson, Chiefland, Dixie County (Cross City), Trenton, and Williston. Bell is the only school in the area that didn’t have to find a new coach.

Photo by Suzette Cook Bell football coach Joey Whittington

Friday, Aug. 26 – Bell at Trenton

Bulldogs coach Joey Whittington is back for his 10th season. Last year the Bulldogs had to replace 18 seniors, yet they doubled their win total from the previous season and finished 4-6.

“I’m excited about the game being week one,” Whittington said. “We are always trying to set the tone at the beginning of the season. Now that we are playing our in-county rival week one just intensifies that.”

Meanwhile, Cameron Porch will be in his first season as the head coach of the Tigers, who finished 4-6 last year under coach Bill Wiles, but still made the playoffs. The two teams didn’t play last year but Trenton defeated Bell, 47-0, in 2021, and has won 11 of the last 12 in the series.

“I know Cameron and respect him as a coach so I know it’s gonna be a good battle,” Whittington said. “The focus of the summer has been to get ready and hit the ground running. Playing Mayo (Lafayette) in the Kickoff classic and Trenton week one has helped make the process fun.”

Friday, Sept. 2 – Dixie County (Cross City) at Trenton

Classic battle of the trenches. However, it’s going to be a drastic change on offense for the host Tigers, who have lost the last four in the series which is back after a one-year hiatus. Brock Canaday takes over for LB Cravey as head coach of the Bears.

“We’re just trying to get back to the tradition that was here that these guys established a few years back,” Porch said. “We’re going to be really, really young so it’s the perfect time to start that transition but we think we can do it. The kids have worked really hard since I got here and they’ve really taken to it. They’ve really enjoyed the weight room and that’s kind of the first sign towards kids being willing to change.”

Friday, Sept. 9 – Williston at Dixie County (Cross City)

Photo by C.J. Gish Williston huddle at the Bronson spring jamboree.

Robby Pruitt is back in Florida and looks to turn Williston around. How quickly the Red Devils improve from a 1-8 season will depend on their commitment in the weight room this summer. The host Bears have always been a blue-collar team, so it should be a physical game for the Red Devils. The more physical team will likely win this one.

Friday, Sept. 16 – Chiefland at Dixie County (Cross City)

Jonathan Adams of Chiefland will be one to watch in this one. Adams made the Mainstreet Daily News All Area defensive team last year after recording 85 tackles, including 24 tackles for a loss, and 12 sacks for the Indians (11-2), who advanced to the 1A state semifinals. Last year, Chiefland defeated the visiting Bears, 14-7. 

James Corbin takes over for head coach Adam Gore. Corbin and the Indians dominated Bronson in the spring game. The Bears get a tough three-game test, but perhaps a measuring stick, early in the season.

Friday, Sept. 23 – Fort White at Williston

Fort White was a playoff team last year, finishing 5-5 following a loss at Lafayette (Mayo). After a three-game road swing, the Red Devils return home. It will be the first of a four-game home stand for Williston, which could be pivotal for the kind of season the Red Devils are hoping to have in year one under Pruitt.

Friday, Sept. 30 – Newberry at Williston

The visiting Panthers are coming off of another playoff appearance under coach Ed Johnson and they’ve added a couple of former Gators to their coaching staff. This one was a close one the last time the two played each other in October 2020 with the Panthers edging the Red Devils, 26-24, on the road behind then senior Makai Johnson’s three touchdowns.

Friday, Oct. 7 – Dixie County (Cross City) at Union County (Lake Butler)

Photo by C.J. Gish Union County’s Rayvon Durant

The host Tigers lost a tough one at Chiefland, 29-27, in last year’s region final. Running back Rayvon Durant is back for his senior season after earning All Area honors by rushing for over 1,300 yards. The Bears will need to get off to a good start in this one.
Last year Dixie County jumped to a 10-0 lead early in the third quarter before visiting Union County bounced back with 28 unanswered points for a 28-12 win giving Tigers coach Andrew Thomas his 100th career victory. 

Friday, Oct. 14 – Trenton at Williston

The Tigers narrowly escaped two years ago with a 40-38 win against the Red Devils on the road. Williston is starting a nutrition program this summer. They’re also trying to change the mindset. They certainly have a championship pedigree when it comes to its head coach. Pruitt has the edge against Porch, but you’ve still got to put in the work.

“We’ve just got to institute a program,” Pruitt said following the spring game win. “We’ll get a little better, a little better.”

Friday, Oct. 21 – Florida High (Tallahassee) at Chiefland

The visiting Seminoles (11-2) are coming off of a final four trip in Class 3A, where they fell to eventual state champion Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood).

Friday, Oct. 28 – Bronson at St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville)

Photo by C.J. Gish Bronson RB Donteau Jenkins

This could have easily been Chiefland at Fort White or Dixie County at Newberry but I wanted to include one game for Bronson, which lost its head coach after the spring game when Russell Holley stepped down. The Eagles won this game easily last year but this year could be a bit tougher as the Wolves were very young last year. Tim Jones is serving as interim coach for the Eagles (5-5), who just missed the postseason in 2021.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to share this time in these young men’s lives,” Jones said about the opportunity to be the head coach at Bronson. “We hope to use this great game to teach them the discipline, respect and work ethic to be successful in life. It’s a great day to wear the orange and blue in Bronson.”

Friday, Nov. 4 – Chipley at Dixie County (Cross City)

Chipley lost at Hawthorne in the Class 1A state semifinals last season, so this is a good end of the season challenge for the Bears, who are playing a tough schedule in 2022 which includes six Class 1A playoff teams from last season—Lafayette, Trenton, Chiefland, Fort White, Newberry and Union County.

Weekly Tri-County football schedule (Dixie, Gilchrist, and Levy counties)

Kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (unless noted)

Friday, Aug. 26

Anclote (Holiday) at Bronson, 7 p.m.

Chiefland at Crescent City, 7 p.m.

Bell at Trenton

Dixie County (Cross City) at Lafayette (Mayo)

Hamilton County (Jasper) at Williston

Friday, Sept. 2

Bell at Wewahitchka, 7 p.m.

Bronson at Branford

West Oaks Academy (Orlando) at Chiefland

Dixie County (Cross City) at Trenton

Williston at Weeki Wachee

Friday, Sept. 9

Branford at Bell

Central (Brooksville) at Bronson

Chiefland at Suwannee (Live Oak)

Newberry at Trenton

Williston at Dixie County (Cross City)

Friday, Sept. 16

Bell at Taylor (Pierson), 7 p.m.

Florida A&M (Tallahassee) at Bronson, 7 p.m.

Chiefland at Dixie County (Cross City)

Trenton at Wewahitchka

Williston at Branford

Friday, Sept. 23

Bronson at Cornerstone Charter Academy (Bell Isle), 7 p.m.

Jefferson County (Monticello) at Dixie County (Cross City), 7 p.m.

Bell at Hamilton County (Jasper)

Fort White at Williston

OFF – Trenton, Chiefland

Friday, Sept. 30

Bell at Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto)

Chiefland at Trenton

Newberry at Williston

OFF – Bronson, Dixie County (Cross City)

Friday, Oct. 7

Riverside Christian (Trenton) at Bell, 7 p.m.

Bronson at Trinity Christian Academy (Deltona), 7 p.m.

Trenton at Branford

Wildwood at Chiefland

Dixie County (Cross City) at Union County (Lake Butler)

Lake Weir (Ocala) at Williston

Friday, Oct. 14

Interlachen at Bell, 7 p.m.

Riverside Christian (Trenton) at Bronson, 7 p.m.

Zarephath Academy (Jacksonville) at Chiefland

Fort White at Dixie County (Cross City)

Trenton at Williston

Friday, Oct. 21

Aucilla Christian (Monticello) at Bell, 7 p.m.

Dixie County (Cross City) at Cambridge Christian (Tampa), 7 p.m.

Williston at Bronson, 7 p.m.

Florida High (Tallahassee) at Chiefland

Trenton at Lafayette (Mayo)

Friday, Oct. 28

Bronson at St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville), 7 p.m.

Chiefland at Fort White

Dixie County (Cross City) at Newberry

Trenton vs. TBA (Tournament)

OFF – Bell

Friday, Nov. 4

St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) at Bell, 7 p.m.

Chipley at Dixie County (Cross City)

Bronson at Umatilla

Belleview at Trenton

Williston at Chiefland

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