There were some major pieces missing, but the Navarro Bulldogs’ final scrimmage before the start of the 2013 season next Saturday against Arkansas Baptist included some outstanding individual performances.
Despite a gimpy line, the defense at times performed well in a scrimmage Saturday at Tiger Stadium to close the first week of practice for the Bulldogs.
Navarro, ranked No. 3 in the NJCAA Preseason Poll, will host Arkansas Baptist at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference opener.
“We need to clean up some mistakes, but for the most we did pretty well (Saturday),” said Navarro coach Brian Mayper. “We just need to knock out some of the kinks.”
Potential starters Kerry Holiday, (Oklahoma transfer) Marquis Anderson and (Texas Tech transfer) Michael Starts were missing due to nagging injuries, though only Anderson should be absent from the opener.
Sophomore John Williams and freshman Kyron Minter were sterling from the defensive end position in Navarro’s new 3-4 scheme employed by defensive coordinator Scott Joseph. Safety KeUntis Thompson also had an interception.
“Most of the teams in our conference work every day in practice against a four-man front, so we’re going to have an advantage with our defense because they’ll never know who’s coming from where and when. Some of our freshmen have progressed quickly in our alignment since we started (two-a-days).”
Quarterback Josh Greer solidified his hold on the starting position after an efficient 8-for-11 afternoon that included a 20-yard strike to freshman Devin Lauderdale in the red zone portion of the scrimmage. Backup Alex Allen was 6 of 11 for 86 yards.
“Josh is leading the race at quarterback because he’s been pretty consistent, as he was (Saturday),” Mayper said. “Alex has all the tools, but he’s just got to get locked on.”
Whoever will be the starting quarterback against Arkansas Baptist will have a new group of fleet receivers in the Bulldog passing game. In addition to huge target Markell Steward-Gillespie, freshmen Austin Collins and Lauderdale have shown flashes in fall practices. Collins, a freshman from Navasota who starred in the state championship game last year, caught five passes for 95 yards, including a 43-yarder for a touchdown, in Saturday’s scrimmage. Lauderdale can stretch the field with blazing speed or take a short pass, spin and leave defenders grasping at air.
“Lauderdale may be the fastest guy we’ve had around here,” Mayper said. “Once he gets a full grasp of our offense, he’s going to be a difference maker for us in our passing game.”
Corsicana running back Cameron Washington was the leading ballcarrier for the Bulldogs, gaining 45 yards on eight carries. While working in the red zone offense, Washington stepped off consecutive carries of 5, 15 and 5 yards, the last going for a touchdown.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve got five or six guys at running back,” Mayper said. “It has made for a healthy competition. You may only get five carries in a game, so you’d better make the most of your opportunities. Every one of those guys want the ball, so you’d better put the work in and perform when you’re on the field in a game.”
Those opportunities will start in earnest on Saturday at Tiger Stadium against an Arkansas Baptist team that scored late to defeat perennial power Northwest Mississippi, 7-0, in a scrimmage last Saturday.
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