Being selected as the preseason favorite by the Southwest Junior College Football Conference coaches has not necessarily been a comfortable position for league teams the last few years.
The last four years of favorites have found themselves anywhere but the top of the league standings by the end of the year.
Navarro hopes to change that trend in 2013 after being tabbed as co-favorite with Kilgore at Thursday’s SWJCFC Media Day at the Garden Valley Golf Club.
If the annual preseason poll of coaches is any indication, the 2013 Southwest Junior College Football Conference season should be a wide open affair.
Five different teams received first place votes, headed by Kilgore and Navarro with two top picks apiece by league coaches. Kilgore and Navarro played in the first round of the SWJCFC playoffs last season.
Kilgore and Navarro both received 51 points, barely edging third place Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (50) and Tyler (47). Navarro, the 2012 SWJCFC champion after defeating NEO in Miami, Okla., in the conference championship game and later winning the Heart of Texas Bowl, also earned one second-place vote, one for third and two for fourth. Kilgore had three third-place votes and a fourth-place vote in addition to its pair of first-place nods by coaches.
Trinity Valley is fifth in the coaches poll, followed by Blinn and Cisco.
“Offensively, we’ve got two guys battling for quarterback and five running backs that we feel really good about,” said Navarro coach Bryan Mayper to the assembled media. “The key when (former coach) Nick (Bobeck) was here was they had a good group of running backs they could keep fresh all the time and keep the offense effective. We’ve got a chance to have the same thing this year.
“Defensively, you’re going to see a four-, five- or three-person front. You name it and you are going to see it from (first-year defensive coordinator Scott Joseph).”
Navarro has a solid mixture of veteran defensive linemen and transfers. Mayper is also counting on Corsicana High School product Dominic Kelley, a reserve linebacker last year who excelled in the spring.
“He’s been doing really, really well for us and is going to be a key to our defense along with several of the other sophomores,” Mayper said.
Mayper was 11-2 in his first year at the helm of the Bulldogs. He’ll welcome his second year of charges on Aug. 10. First practice is Aug. 11.
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