Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

October 13, 2012

Navarro Football: On pause

Dawgs get break from SWJCFC schedule

Corsicana — Southeast Prep gladly took the place of the now-defunct Lon Morris football program on SWJCFC schedules before the season started. After five games, the Spartans may be rethinking their schedule for 2013.

A five-month postgraduate program that allows students to play football while taking accelerated classes to enhance SAT and ACT scores, Southeast Prep has been blitzed by an average 56-9 this season. Three times the Spartans have yielded more than 62 points and its closest game against SWJCFC teams this season was a 46-10 loss to Cisco last week.

It will be Navarro’s turn on Saturday when the Bulldogs host Southeast Prep at 3 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.

The Spartans (0-6) consist of athletes who are marginal college prospects or those who need additional preparation for college preparatory tests. Some players have signed with junior college teams in the past, such as running back Rickey Lunford (Kilgore) and kicker Carlos Robago (Tyler). There are others like quarterback Jeff Nabors (6-5, 190) who hope success in their one season at Southeast Prep will translate into a college offer.

“They’ve got some pretty good athletes at some positions,” said Navarro Coach Brian Mayper. “This game will give us an opportunity to get back to basics and refine some things both on offense and defense. We’re going to see some different stuff from (Southeast Prep), but we’ll adjust and we’re going to work on areas where we need to get better.”

Expect Navarro (5-1 overall, 3-1 in the SWJCFC) to focus on its already explosive running game and a passing attack that has been inconsistent at best.

The Bulldogs rank No. 1 in rushing among NJCAA teams this season, averaging more than 325 yards per game. Southeast Prep is yielding 254.8 yards and 6.5 yards per carry through six games.

With Traylon Shead (712 yards, 12 TDs) and Tyler Middleton (509 yards, 10 TDs) ranked first and third, respectively, among SWJCFC rushers, Navarro has a solid 1-2 punch. Mayper is hoping to develop Tim Wright (161 yards in two games), Tarlandus Mitchell and wide receiver-turned-running back Tony Drake into a formidable reserve force that can give a break to his starting backfield.

The passing attack has been inconsistent most of the season, though quarterback Stump Godfrey broke loose with four touchdown passes in a 52-35 win over Tyler last week. More importantly, Godfrey did not have an interception for the first time this season. Southeast Prep could be a prime victim for Godfrey and his receivers, having giving up 16 touchdown passes against SWJCFC opponents.

“We continue to have receivers running the wrong routes, but they are getting better every week,” Mayper said. “Once we get the passing game going to match our running game, our offense will be very explosive.”

Navarro hopes to turn last week’s defensive performance into a catalyst for the stretch run against dangerous offensive teams in Blinn and Northeastern Oklahoma. Navarro has been in minus numbers in turnover-takeaway ratio since Week 2, but the Bulldogs jumped on three fumbles and added cornerback john Wesby’s second interception of the season.

Once again, Southeast Prep is seemingly the perfect opponent to maintain and build on defensive efforts this season. Navarro’s run defense has been among the best in the conference all season and could have a big day against Southeast Prep, which is averaging only 36 yards and 1.3 yards per carry in games against SWJCFC teams.

“We’ve had several strong performances from our defense this season, but we’ve got to get better and more consistent in a lot of areas,” Mayper said. “This game (vs. Southeast Prep) is an opportunity to continue to get some of the backup kids experience. You never know when they will be needed to play extensively and they are going to have to produce.”

Saturday will also be a Pink Out in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All school-aged children will be admitted for free. Also, all community heroes (teachers, police and fire departments and members of the military) can enter for free with and ID.

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