“There is no doubt we are motivated by how last season ended and I can tell you that feeling will not go away anytime soon.”

By Bob Heist | 315-4404 | @bobheistNWFDN | [email protected]

NICEVILLE — Three-game losing streak to end the 2016 season? Rear-view mirror. Prospects for 2017? Blinding.

How else to look at the season-opener for Niceville, which pounded Tallahassee Lincoln, 48-7, before a large crowd at Eagles Stadium on Friday night.

“We’re determined to be playing our best football at the end of the season and that didn’t happen last year,” said Niceville coach John Hicks. “There is no doubt we are motivated by how last season ended and I can tell you that feeling will not go away anytime soon.”

The statistics were as lopsided as the score with Niceville piling up a 520-171 advantage in total offense, including a telling 287-73 difference in rushing yards. Not bad between a pair of returning playoff teams.

If the Eagles were concerned about replacing star running back Deonte Sheffield, now plying his trade at Florida State, those worries were put to rest by the tandem of sophomore Taylor Scarborough and junior T.J. Pope, who combined for 217 yards and three touchdowns.

Pope did much of his work in the first half, including touchdown runs of 4 and 1 yards. In fact, by halftime, with Niceville shredding the Trojans’ defense, the ground game pushed the Eagles ahead 27-7 as Will Koch and Brooks Alexander added scoring runs of 1 and 14 yards, respectively.

And if there was any doubt which way the evening was headed, the rout became official in the third quarter after Koch found Ryan Romair on a 23-yard TD pass and Scarborough scored on a 9-yard run.

Niceville 41, Lincoln 7. It never got any closer.

The Eagles put a cap on the scoring

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