You could see it coming.
Navarro coach Brian Mayper even told his team that.
Being No. 1 in the nation might not have been expected, but it was there for the taking, and the Bulldogs took charge Saturday night in an impressive 35-21 win over Kilgore and landed in the No. 1 spot in the NJCAA poll on Tuesday.
“It was obvious,’’ Mayper said. “We were No. 2 and when the No. 1 team, Mississippi Gulf Coast, lost on Thursday I told the players if we won on Saturday that we would be No. 1. It’s obvious. When No. 1 loses and No. 2 wins, we should jump up to No. 1. I told them if we won we would be No. 1, but you can’t be satisfied.’’
Mayper is happy with the ranking, just cautious and honest about what it means.
“It’s good,’’ he said. “It’s good for the school. It’s good for the recognition. But it doesn’t mean anything until the end. The kids are pretty excited about it. It’s my job to keep them focused. Nobody remembers who was ranked No. 1 a year later. We have to keep focused and stay humble. We talked about it again, to stay hungry and chase crumbs.’’
That’s Mayper’s motto. He knows top-ranked teams can have a letdown. It happens all the time.
Mayper pointed out that No. 4 ranked Butler was upset by an unranked Highland team over he weekend and the “no one saw that coming.’’
The Bulldogs have manhandled everyone they’ve played. They opened with a 76-26 win agaist Arkansas Baptist and then hammered then-no. 6 Hutchinson 41-16 on the road. They destroyed Cisco on the road, 58-10, and had a big second half to run away from Kilgore, which was ranked in the presason poll.
Mayper just wants to look ahead.
“Our focus right now is on Trinity Valley on Saturday,’’ he said. “Trinity Valley has been one of the top teams. If we keep winning and we get a chance (to play in the playoffs) we will more than likely be playing the same teams we are playing now. Kilgore is the best team we’ve played so far. I still say our conference is the best conference.’’
This year’s team might just have the focus and stamina to win a national title. The Bulldogs finished fourth in the nation a year ago in Mayper’s first year at Navarro. He has seen a difference in this year’s team.
“Last year I felt we had an excellent team,’’ Mayper said. “We didn’t have any discipline and that’s what cost us a national championship. I talked to them about being unselfish. This generation is very selfish. I talked to them about being disciplined and being focused and that hopefully we would be better.’’
His players listened.
“No doubt about it, we are more disciplined this year,’’ Mayper said. “You can tell just walking around campus how they act. There’s a different atmosphere. If we had the discipline we have now last year we would have been playing for a national championship. We’ve done a lot of things encouraging them on maturity and spiritual growth. I believe that plays a big part of it. A lot of guys have taken it to heart, and we’re more disciplined.’’
NJCAA National Football Poll
1. Navarro College 4-0
2. Iowa Western 5-0
3. East Mississippi CC 4-0
4. Copiah-Lincoln CC 4-0
5. Georgia Military 5-0
6. Nassau CC 4-0
7. Itawamba CC 4-0
8. Tyler Junior College 4-0
9. Jones County 4-0
10. Miss. Gulf Coast 3-1
11. Arizona Western 4-1
12. Butler CC 3-1
13. Scottsdale CC 4-1
14. Garden City CC 3-1
15. Dodge City CC 4-1
16. Louisburg College 4-0
17. Mesa CC 4-1
18. ASA College 1-1
19. Rochester CC 4-0
20. Hinds CC 2-2