For area high school football fans, New Year’s Day was May 1.
That’s the first day Florida High School Athletics Association teams could practice.
“It’s the same every year,” Navarre High School coach Jay Walls said. “We’re starting off a new year…Certainly, we had a great year last year, and we’re proud of that, but it’s time to move on.” (PHOTO: Offensive line coach Greg Greenhaw instructs his charges.)
The Raiders went 12-2 and won the school’s first-ever region title in 2012, Walls’ first season with Navarre. Walls and 17 players received media honors after the season, and several will continue their playing careers in college – most notably tight end Jordan Leggett, who already is enrolled at Clemson University and competing for playing time with the Tigers, and running back Jay Warren, who has committed to Florida Atlantic University.
But the Raiders are losing 24 seniors to graduation, including four offensive linemen and the entire offensive and defensive backfields. Only four of the 17 honored players were underclassmen, and one of them – kicker Chandler Moorer – has decided not to play football his senior year.
Still, last season’s success gives Walls and his staff a foundation for the future.
“The guys who were involved last year, I hope they want to do it again,” Walls said. “I hope they’ve worked hard in the offseason and in the camps.”
The Class of 2013 has set a high standard for future Raiders, he added.
“Those guys kind of set the bar,” he said. “They showed the level of play that you have to produce to get to that level. That’s good for these guys that were here. They can tell themselves, ‘If I want to be as good a running back as Jay Warren (who rushed for more than 1,800 yards a year ago, a school record), this is how I’ve got to perform.’ ‘If I want to be as good a receiver as Jordan Leggett, this is how hard I have to work.’”