Over the past three years, the Northview Chiefs have built a football program most schools would envy.
Three consecutive regional titles and three straight trips to the state semifinals highlight the Chiefs' resume.
But Northview is ready to take the next step, and coach Sid Wheatley believes everything is in place for the Chiefs to make another historic stride tonight when they travel to take on the Liberty County Bulldogs in the Class 1A state semifinals.
"I think our kids are comfortable," said Wheatley, who leads his 9-3 Chiefs against the 10-2 Bulldogs at 6:30 p.m. local time. "I don't think they feel any pressure right now.
"They've been knocking on the door for the past couple of years, and I think now they're in the mindset that we need to just go ahead and knock the door down."
Two years ago, the Chiefs traveled to Jacksonville for their first ever state semifinal trip and lost to eventual state champion Trinity Christian.
Last year, the Chiefs hosted Chipley in the state semifinals, and squandered a late lead in dropping a 25-21 loss to the Tigers.
The experience of playing in those two games can only help the Chiefs as they prepare to get on the road to face Liberty County.
"They know what it takes and what it will take to win Friday night," Wheatley said. "They've been in this spot before; they've traveled away, had it at home. I think they're fully focused this week. The thing we're trying to make sure they do is play hard, play loose and don't feel like there's pressure on you.
"The experience gained (from the first year), and the experience gained last year from Chipley, from being so close and that sort of thing ... these kids have been dwelling on that for a year, the pain and hurt, the finality of that night. They're determined to get this done."
The players certainly reiterate Wheatley's comments, saying they want to be the first senior class to get past that semifinal hump.
"This class wants to be the class that doesn't say we got stuck in the third round, that we actually made it to state and accomplished something that no class has done," senior quarterback Kevin Vaughan said. "All through the summer, that's what we worked for, to make it to the state finals, and that's all we've been pushing for this week.
"That's the way we feel. We feel we've worked hard and that nobody should take it but us."
Standing in their way is a Liberty County team riding a nine-game win streak after opening the season with losses to Bay and Marianna in Weeks 2 and 3.
The Bulldogs' road to the state semifinals has been a familiar one for them, as they beat two teams they played in the regular season -- Bozeman and Blountstown.
"I know they're really well-coached, Grant Grantham does a really good job with them over there," Wheatley said. "I know they've had a lot of success over the years.
"This is, I think, as deep as they've gotten in the playoffs, but they've been in the playoff hunt before."
The Bulldogs have rolled up 10 victories behind an offense that wants to establish the run, but isn't afraid to mix things up in the passing game.
Backs Alex Marlowe (107-861, 7 TDs) and Ben Beckwith (98-626, 4 TDs) lead the way on offense.
"They run a real schematic type of offense that they do very well," Wheatley said. "It's a double-slot type offense that they can do several things out of it. It's almost like a real finely tuned machine. We'll have our hands full slowing them down.
"I think they want to run downhill, but they'll also try to get out on the edges a little bit. They have a couple of backs that have some quickness and some speed, so you have to be able to contain them."
The Chiefs counter with an offense that has been virtually unstoppable this season. Averaging 42 points per game, the Chiefs are led by quarterback Kevin Vaughan, tailback LaMikal Kyles and wideout Brannon Freeman.
"We can give anybody on offense the ball and they have a chance to score a touchdown," said Vaughan, who has completed 96-of-156 passes for 1,296 yards and 14 touchdowns. "I think that's the difference between this year and last year."