Navarre ranked 9th leading into season

Posted on August 24, 2017 by Jay Phillips

Photo by Tammie Norton

Much excitement surrounds the potential of #5 Junior Dante Wright, who is lightning fast with 4.4-second 40-yard speed. Wright plays not only wide receiver but also defensive back.

Following a state 6A semifinals finish last year, the Navarre Raiders varsity football team on Tuesday was named No. 9 in the Associated Press Florida High School Football preseason rankings, and in preseason play the team shut out Tallahassee’s Lawton Chiles Timberwolves 28-0 in the first half of their August 17 Kickoff Classic.

Although the game won’t count towards either teams’ regular season records, Navarre came out fi ring on all cylinders, scoring 23 seconds into the game and taking a 28-0 lead into halftime.

After halftime the score reset to 0-0 and both teams began substituting younger players and backups. Chiles ended up victorious in the second half, leaving with a 21-0 lead. After fielding the opening kickoff and returning it into Chiles’ territory, Navarre’s Senior quarterback Sage Chambers lofted a deep-ball to junior wide receiver Dante Wright, who caught the pass running in stride into the end zone to put Navarre up 7-0 with under 30 seconds played in the first quarter. After special teams and offense showed up first for Navarre, it was defense’s turn. And the defense carried the momentum of Navarre’s first drive. With 6:42 left in the first quarter and Lawton Chiles attempting to drive into Navarre’s territory, the defense came up with a huge fourth down stop, forcing a turn over on downs, a play that would ultimately control the field-position battle for the rest of the first-half.

Thanks to a booming punt, amazing punt coverage and another stout showing from the defense, Navarre found themselves on offense once again. With just over 10 minutes left in the second quarter, sophomore running back Darnell Deas took a handoff right up the middle, plowed through a host of defenders and carved his way right into the end zone, securing for Navarre a comfortable 14-0 lead.

After kicking the ball off to Lawton Chiles, the Raiders took the ball right back and this time with an interception. Unfortunately that interception came with the turnover bug, and the Raiders ended up throwing an interception right back to Chiles on their following drive.

Thanks to a push from Navarre’s defensive line on Chiles first play they returned the favor with a fumble, and this time Navarre’s defense found themselves playing the role of the offense as junior defensive lineman Mitchell Hunt picks up the fumble for a scoop-and-score to put the Raiders up 21-0.

Lawton Chiles looked like they might be about to get on the board for the first time all game right before halftime before the defense stepped up in the red-zone and forced a missed field goal, allowing the Raider offense a chance to execute their two-minute drill going into the half.

After a solid drive, the offense made its trademark connect for another touchdown from Chambers to Wright. Wright caught the ball on the five yard line and made multiple defenders miss as he broke everyone’s ankles who got in between himself and the end zone on his way to giving Navarre a comfortable 28-0 lead going into halftime.

Opening up very defensively, the second half wouldn’t see its first offensive spurt until nearly halfway into the third quarter where Chiles’ quarterback kept a read handoff for a touchdown. The quarterback scrambles continued to plague Navarre in the second half, eventually leading to Chiles taking a 21-0 lead at the end of the second half.

The Raiders’ first official game of the 2017 season will be a home game at 7 p.m. Friday, August 25 against Pensacola’s Catholic High School.