BALDWIN, Fla. – Baldwin went 5-5 last year and missed the playoffs by less than a percentage point. 2018 has been a much different story. The Indians finished the regular season 9-1. On Friday night they’ll host Taylor County for the first home playoff game in school history.
“It’s a big deal it really is,” said Indians head coach Steven Shields on Tuesday. “Everybody in the community roots for us and takes care of us. We want to represent them. We want to bring playoff football here to Baldwin and let them enjoy it. We’ll all enjoy it together. This is a big deal.”
Friday’s game has been the talk of the town in Baldwin. With somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 residents the population in Baldwin is smaller than some Duval County high schools.
Indians fans are loyal and pack the stands at Earl Fouraker Field for every Friday night home game. Not only have they never seen a home playoff game, the school is winless in their five previous trips to the playoffs.
Baldwin quarterback Gavin Screws finished the regular season third in the area in passing yards (2,420) and second in touchdowns (26).
He’s the third member of the Screws family to play under center for the Indians. Both his dad and uncle played quarterback for Baldwin in the 1990’s.
This is Baldwin’s first trip to the playoffs since 2016. The Indians lost to Madison County 42-7 in the first round. Screws was only a sophomore at the time. Now a senior, he feels that experience has prepared him for Friday night against Taylor County.
“Playing as a sophomore in that type of atmosphere it really feels like a brand new game,” said Screws. “In that moment you know its win or go home. You’ve got to leave everything on the field. We left it all on the field last time. It just didn’t go our way. It was a big left down. Just having that experience really helps us going into this week.”