The hottest team in District 1-6A takes on the hottest team in District 2-6A tonight when the Niceville Eagles travel to take on the Milton Panthers in a Region 1-6A quarterfinal contest.
The Panthers (7-3) dropped an early game to PHS in their district opener, but bounced back to run the table in district and win the league title with a 5-1 mark.
Niceville (6-3) lost its first two district games -- to Navarre and Choctawhatchee -- but the Eagles have since outscored their last four opponents by a 153-27 margin.
The Eagles' 42-7 domination of Crestview in the District 2-6A finale wrapped up second place in the league.
"No one is easy when you get to the playoffs, and Niceville is a tough draw," Milton coach Chafan Marsh said. "They are playing extremely well right now, about as well as anybody around. They're on a roll right now and feeling pretty good."
So is Milton, though, which beat Pace and Pine Forest in consecutive weeks to wrap up the District 1-6A title. The Panthers had Week 11 off, which Marsh said was a welcomed break for the battered Panthers.
"I think we needed a break," Marsh said. "It was 10 weeks in a row. We've been going at it since the middle of August. A lot of teams had a break in the middle, we went 11 straight weeks in a row counting the kickoff classic.
"We needed a break to kick back and catch our breath."
Now that the Panthers have had a moment to collect themselves, they turn their focus to an Eagles' team that presents matchup challenges across the board.
"They run the ball really well," Marsh said. "They have a big, physical offensive line. They average about 290 across the line. They remind you of Pace. It really is a different challenge. They do a good job of getting after you.
"They won their last three games convincingly and have been doing a very good job. From a defensive standpoint, we have our hands full."