By Rob Ludwig
Corsicana Daily Sun
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.
Southeast Prep at Navarro
Saturday, 3 p.m.
Radio: KAND 1340 AM
RECORDS: No. 11-ranked Navarro (5-1 overall, 3-1 in SWJCFC) vs. Southeast Prep (0-6)
RECENT HISTORY: This is the first meeting between the two programs. This is Southeast Prep’s third season. The Spartans are 0-5 against SWJCFC teams this season, losing by an average 59-9.
KEY PLAYERS: Navarro: QB Stump Godfrey, RB Traylon Shead, WR-KR Tony Drake, TE Gerard Shillow, RB Tyler Middleton, LB D.J. Simon, RB Tim Wright, LB Stephen Maeweather, DE Andre Ross, T Aleon Calhoun, T Zach Fondal, C-T Carter Wall, DT Arnold Blackmon, DE Michael Jolivet, DT Andre Young, DT Terrell Brooks. Southeast Prep: QB Jeff Nabors, K Carlos Robago, RB Rickey Lunford, WR-QB Everett Anderson, WR Chris Owoh.
GAME NOTES: Navaro K Patrick Sohrt was named the NJCAA Special Teams Player of the Week after connecting on a 42-yard field goal and going 7-for-7 on extra points. Sohrt is 34 of 35 on extra points this season and has made 26 straight attempts . . . RB Middleton earned SWJCFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 175 yards and scoring 3 times against Tyler . . . DE Blackmon leads the SWJCFC with 19 tackles for loss, 10 better than teammate DT Antonio Wright, who is second in the league with stops behind the line. Fellow DT Brooks has 7 tackles for loss and LB Simon has 6 . . . Corsicana HS graduate S Thomas McDonald is fifth in the SWJCFC with 50 tackles this season. McDonald has 8 tackles better than LB Smon and 16 more tackles than third-best LB Steve Orisakwe . . . RB Shead is seventh in the NJCAA with 712 yards this season . . . Look for most of the Navarro roster to get extensive playing time against Southeast Prep, which has been outscored 116-20 in the first quarter and 71-7 in the third period this season . . . The Spartans’ closest game this season was a 42-21 loss at Independence, Kan. . . . Southeast Prep does not have a home field, playing all of its games on the road.