Navarro defense

Daily Sun File photo/Ron Farmer

Defensive back Jrake Polk (24) leads a gang tackle during the Bulldogs' opening day win against Tyler last spring.

The Dawgs return nine players on offense and eight on defense and will get back to normal this fall when they play a 10-game season. Navarro coach Scott Parris optimistic about the NJCAA's new playoff format to decide the national title.

The road to the NJCAA national title just got a little wider.

It's a four-lane highway beginning this season, and that could be big news for Navarro or whoever wins the Southwest Junior College Football Conference title.

Instead of just having two teams play in a Division I national title game the NJCAA will have two divisions -- Division I and Division III -- and have a four-team, two-round playoff format for each division.

The NJCAA will rank the top Division I teams and the top four teams in the final poll will advance to a two-round playoff, similar to the NCAA format.

The newly implemented playoff system for Division I football will feature three premiere football games. In the semifinal round, the No. 1 ranked team in the final poll of the regular season will host the No. 4 ranked team while the No. 3 ranked team will face-off against the No. 2 ranked team on their home field. The winner of each matchup advance to the NJCAA Division I Football Championship, which will be held at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, AR through 2023. 

The NJCAA Division III Football Championship will be held at the College of DuPage, in Glen Ellyn, IL, where the Red Grange Bowl game has been hosted since 2016.

"I think it's a great opportunity for our players, and it gives the junior college system the opportunity to crown a true national champion," Navarro coach Scott Parr said Monday.

Parr's Bulldogs play in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, which always produces some of the top Division I JUCO teams in the nation.

"Our conference is well represented top to bottom," said Parr, whose team won the conference title in the fall of 2019. The Bulldogs didn't play last autumn, but played a seven-game schedule last spring with no playoffs. The SWJCFC will be back to normal this fall with a full seven-game conference schedule and a complete 10-game schedule with two playoff rounds to decide the conference champ.

Because the competition, which always has teams in the SWJCFC ranked in the Top 10, the conference winner could claim one of the top four spots in the poll and earn a berth in the national playoffs.

"It (the SWJCFC) might be as good a league as there is in the nation," said Parr, who added that the new four-team playoff format for the national title will help junior college football and give more teams exposure.

"I think it's good for the game," he said. "Our kids like it. When we told them about it I could see it energized them."

Navarro begins summer practice on August 2 and opens its season Sept. 4. The Bulldogs return nine starters on offense and eight on defense, and bring in a strong recruiting class of 55 players that has Parr and everyone in the program looking forward to the new season.

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