By Josh Hyber | 315-4476 | @JoshHyberNWFDN | [email protected]

Baker quarterback Jalen Ciurleo has to correct people all the time. 

His surname, with its Italian ancestry, is pronounced Chuh-lay-oh.

Get used to it and get it right, because Jalen, his twin brother Kalee and their Baker football teammates deserve respect. With a 49-0 victory over Liberty County, the Gators (10-0) are undefeated and well on their way to making noise in the 1A state playoffs.

“It’s amazing. We worked hard over the summer and we’ve been working hard the whole year. It’s a great feeling to be sitting here undefeated,” said Ciurelo, a Gators running back and a Dandy Dozen honoree entering this season. “But now that the playoffs are here, we’ve got to take it game by game.”

On Friday night against Liberty County in Baker, Ciurelo had 153 yards of total offense, including 111 yards and a touchdown on the ground. It’s for that performance, as well as his leadership in the Gators’ undefeated season, that Ciurleo has won this week’s Daily News Athlete of the Week.

Baker will host District 2-1A runner-up Cottondale at home in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday in the first round of the playoffs. The winner advances to meet either Northview or 2-1A champ Graceville in the regional final on Nov. 18.


DN: How tough was it to actually pull off? You guys beat two teams that beat you last year.

JC: It was pretty hard, but we’re very disciplined and we listen to our coaches. Our coaches do a great job.

DN: When did you realize you had a chance to do it?

JC: I think it was the South Walton game (in Week 6, Baker beat the Seahawks 35-9 in Santa Rosa Beach). I felt after that game we could

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