Panhandle Rivalry

Crestview Bulldogs VS Niceville Eagles

Friday, October 27, 2017 7:00 PM

A year ago, Crestview stared unfavorable history in the face and won 27-21, erasing memories of playing second fiddle to hated rival Niceville - at least for the time being.

Crestview’s 2016 rivalry win secured its first district title since 2005, and snapped Niceville’s streak of three straight district crowns. Crestview advanced into the second round of the playoffs with a 35-0 blanking of Middleburg. The Eagles, meanwhile, exited in first round action with a 35-28 loss to St. Augustine.

The question now is: Will Crestview turn this rivalry around, or at least notch a second win in a row? In 2013, the Bulldogs upended the Eagles 17-12 to earn their first win over Niceville in decades, only to drop 34-10 and 38-3 decisions to the Eagles in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Niceville has been victorious in eight of the last 10 contests, outscoring Crestview 310-173.

Between them, the Eagles and the Bulldogs have made 39 postseason runs and racked up a 41-38 postseason record collectively, claiming one state title and three runner-up finishes together.

Quite a few people project Niceville and Crestview to be the preseason favorites to play for the Class 6A District 3 football title this fall. MaxPreps’ preseason ratings strongly agree with that sentiment. Both squads are off to 1-0 starts in 2017. The Bulldogs began the season with a 37-2 win over Bay and Niceville blasted Lincoln 48-7 over the weekend.

While Niceville is set on kicking sand on Crestview once again this fall, the Bulldogs intend on running the Eagles out of their own neighborhood. Some 9,000 high school football fans are expected to fill Niceville Football Stadium Friday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. So arrive early and take in the Panhandle Rivalry and all of its chaos. It is truly one of Florida’s most hostile gridiron battles.

Riverly Series Hashtags

  • #BeatNiceville
  • #BeatCrestview

Who will win?

Learn More About the Teams

@ Niceville
Crestview Bulldogs Niceville, FL
Loveland Tigers
Niceville Eagles Niceville, FL


Crestview Bulldogs

Crestview, FL

Crestview High School, home of the Bulldogs, is located about 21 miles north of Niceville on Highway 85. After getting its start in 1897, Crestview has grown to an enrollment of 1,897 students in grades 9-12 and will compete in Class 6A this fall.

The Bulldogs have become more competitive against Niceville in recent years, winning two of the last four tussles against the despised Eagles. In 2013, Crestview notched a 17-12 decision over Niceville, earning its first win over the Eagles in 30 years. The Bulldogs took great glee in stifling Niceville’s string of three straight district championships with a 27-21 decision a year ago, and in the process claimed its first district title since 2005.

Bulldog head coach Tim Hatten has been responsible for both of Crestview’s recent wins over Niceville and is 23-19 going into his fifth season with the Bulldogs. Hatten compiled a 79-29 mark at Haines City High School in Florida before winning a national championship at Pearl River Community College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where he went 80-30 in 11 seasons.

Last fall, Hatten guided the Bulldogs to the Florida state football playoffs for the first time since 2010. Crestview’s 35-0 first round win over Middleburg, marked the 13th time the Bulldogs competed beyond the regular season. Crestview is 8-13 in the playoffs and fell to Rockledge 22-0 in its only state title game in 2002.

Now that Crestview is looking down at the Eagles, after jerking the 6A District 3 title out of Niceville’s grasp last fall, the Bulldogs are ratcheting up for another game of district title keep away and a repeat finish atop the standings.

For more information on the Crestview football team, click here.


Niceville Eagles

Niceville, FL

Niceville High School, home of the Eagles, is located about 66 miles east of Pensacola on I-10. After opening its doors in 1964, Niceville is home to 1,975 students in grades 9-12 and will compete in Class 6A this fall.

The Eagles have dominated this series, and as of late, Niceville is 8-2 against the Bulldogs. The Eagles won six straight football grudge matches from 2007-2012. Crestview bumped Niceville 17-12 in 2013 to notch its first win over the Eagles in 30 years. It’s obvious why this is known as the top panhandle rivalry.

As head coach at Niceville, John Hicks is 141-49 over the last 16 seasons, and has guided the Eagles to four state semifinals and a pair of runner-up finishes. A year ago, the Eagles qualified for the Florida state high school football playoffs for the 16th straight year, and for the 24th time since 1990. In all, Niceville has been to the postseason 26 times and has compiled a 33-25 record in the playoffs. The Eagles have outscored their postseason opposition 1,641-1,241.

Last fall Niceville fell short of winning a district title for the first time since 2012. But, according to MaxPreps’ preseason ratings, the Eagles appear to be back in the driver’s seat in 2017. In all, Niceville has claimed 20 district titles, five regional championships, a pair of state runner-up finishes (2009, 2013) and won a state championship in 1988.

When Niceville fell to Crestview in 2013, the Eagles bounced back to bump the Bulldogs in 2014 and 2015, outscoring their foe 72-13 collectively. As Niceville sees it, bragging rights in the Panhandle Rivalry belong on their side of the court, and the Class 6A District 3 preseason favorites intend on taking them back.

For more information on the Niceville football team, click here.