The Choctawhatchee High School football team (5-5) beat rival Fort Walton Beach (3-7) 42-6 on Friday night at Joe Etheredge Stadium in the 49th meeting between the two teams. The Indians lead the all-time series 28-21.

FORT WALTON BEACH — Somehow, it just doesn’t get old.

Six straight years of hoisting that enormous trophy did nothing to tarnish how it felt in Year 7, the Choctaw football team huddling around the gilded chalice, holding it high for all of Joe Etheredge Stadium to see.

pic.twitter.com/aZJVDnSL6p

— Sam Grubenhoff (@SamGrubenhoff) November 2, 2019

For the Indians, it just keeps getting better, Choctaw topping Fort Walton Beach 42-6 on Friday night to claim a seventh straight victory in the rivalry known only as “The Game.”

“It’s important to ’em,” Choctaw coach Greg Thomas said. “It’s what rivalries are all about. I’m glad they could experience it with a win tonight.”

And it was a dominating win at that.

After falling behind 35-3 in a loss to Pine Forest and 38-3 in a loss to Pensacola Catholic this past week, the Indians (5-5 overall) wasted little time putting points on the board against their rivals.

Junior quarterback Ezra McKenna completed all six of his passes on a 10-play, 70-yard opening drive and capped it with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Roland Clay for a 7-0 lead not even four minutes into the game.

McKenna to Clay. Indians lead 7-0 early. pic.twitter.com/FcEuGQ5Q1z

— Sam Grubenhoff (@SamGrubenhoff) November 2, 2019

More touchdowns followed on the Indians’ final three drives of the half, the highlight a 62-yard touchdown pass from McKenna to junior running back Kybert McGlothin. Facing third-and-10 from his own 38, McKenna dumped the ball off to McGlothin, who managed to duck and weave his way out of trouble before bouncing out to the left side for a long run and a 21-0 lead with 4:18 left in the first half.

Third and 10? No problem.

McKenna to McGlothin for 62 and the TD. Indians lead 21-0 with 4:18 left 2Q pic.twitter.com/RGnVWUpUfW

— Sam Grubenhoff (@SamGrubenhoff) November 2, 2019

“We talked to ’em a lot about the mental approach and how to finish games and play as hard as we possibly can for four quarters,” Thomas said of his team’s quick start. “We just didn’t feel like we put four quarters together, and I think we did tonight.”

Fort Walton Beach (3-7) wouldn’t put points up until the second half, the Vikings managing their only score after Walker Robinson posted the longest play of the night, a 63-yard run, to set up Jay Jarrett for a 3-yard score that cut the deficit to 28-6.

Walker Robinson’s 63-yard run sets up Jay Jarrett for a short TD. Vikings are on the board, but they trail 28-6. 9:27 left 3Q pic.twitter.com/NO9kdTNWwd

— Sam Grubenhoff (@SamGrubenhoff) November 2, 2019

The team’s leading rusher, Jarrett was effectively stymied, finishing his night with 62 yards on 20 carries, while Robinson had 74 yards on five totes. Meanwhile, the Vikings’ passing attack posted just 65 yards and two interceptions on 15 attempts.

“Our first half, we weren’t very competitive and that hurt us a lot to get down 28-0,” Vikings coach Phil Dorn said. “I was proud of the kids for trying to fight back in the second half and make a game of it.

“Choctaw’s got a good football team. They came out with great intensity and made plays early in the game and got after us.”

The Indians answered Fort Walton’s lone score quickly with two of their own — both McGlothin runs — to go up 42-6 and start the running clock with 8:52 left. McGlothin finished his night with a team-high 107 all-purpose yards and three total scores.

“I’m just happy for our seniors, our team,” Thomas said. “We’ve struggled the last few weeks, so it’s good to get a win tonight. We worked hard. I thought we finally put a complete game together.”

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 28

There have been 49 meetings between Fort Walton Beach and Choctaw. The rivalry runs as deep as any in the area.

But if we’re being honest, it has gotten quite lopsided in recent years.

The Indians have won each of the past seven, outscoring the Vikings 292-86 during that stretch, and now lead the all-time series 28-21.

“It feels so good for the seventh time in a row,” senior defensive back Jimmy Hart said. “We’re making history, baby. It feels good just to keep it going.”

OFFENSIVE MVP: Ezra McKenna, Choctaw

The 6-foot-6 junior wrapped up his first season as Choctaw’s starting signal-caller with a gem, completing 17-of-19 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 20 yards and fourth score on the ground.

“Ezra’s been the constant, positive stronghold of our offense,” Thomas said. “He does a great job leading it, making calls, making sure the offensive line gets the calls they need. He’s done a phenomenal job this year.”

Added Hart: “That’s the man right there. He got big things ahead of him. Smart kid right there.”

With 23 seconds left before the half, McKenna hooks up with Clay for their second TD of the night.

Indians 28, Vikings pic.twitter.com/j4DFqpgc58

— Sam Grubenhoff (@SamGrubenhoff) November 2, 2019

DEFENSIVE MVP: Jimmy Hart, Choctaw

This award could have gone to any number of Choctaw defenders, the unit putting together its best performance of the season, but Hart seems as good a candidate as any after delivering the statement play of the night.

With just 5.9 seconds left in the first half, Viking quarterback Parker Hill rolled out to his left and threw up a prayer toward the end zone.

Nursing a broken right hand he’s had since the summer, Hart was the one to come down with it.

“I seen him throw it in the air, and I knew it was mine,” he said. “I had to go up top to get it.”

Being a senior, nothing would please Hart more than to make the playoffs. It’s something he hasn’t done in his four years at Choctaw. But, if the Indians don’t make it, Hart said he will be at peace.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I love the coaching staff. I really appreciate them for all they do.”

Jimmy Hart with the INT before the break.@BigGreenIndian leads @FWBHS_Football football 28-0 at the half.

Choctaw’s student section is already chanting, “SCOREBOARD! SCOREBOARD!” pic.twitter.com/6xeWXD7vgt

— Sam Grubenhoff (@SamGrubenhoff) November 2, 2019

UP NEXT

Fort Walton Beach is done for the year. At 3-7, the Vikings won two more games than they did in 2018.

Choctaw, on the other hand, might not be done just yet.

The Indians ranked ninth Tuesday in the Region 1-5A playoff standings with a .487 RPI, just .037 percentage points behind Suwannee — which fell to Dublin on Friday, 77-48 — for the final Region 1 wild card berth.

Should the Indians make the playoffs when the brackets are revealed Sunday morning, Thomas said they will be ready.

“We’re gonna get to work on Monday,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity. We would just be happy to be in the playoffs, but, of course, our goal is to win each round.

“It’ll be exciting. I hope our guys can experience that.”