Navarre head coach Jay Walls stood in front of his team Tuesday afternoon before practice.
He talked with his players about the expectation to do great things in the playoffs. That there is an opportunity to make a run at 7A state crown if the team plays up to its potential.
The first step on that journey is tonight when the Raiders (6-0) host Buchholz (7-1) in a regional quarterfinal showdown.
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.
Navarre is making its first playoff appearance since 2018.
It’s the first game for the Raiders since Nov. 5 when they ended the regular season with a 30-13 win over Crestview.
“It was nice having the bye week, and the kids responded well to it. But they are ready to play a game,” Walls said. “We have to go out and get it done.”
Walls traveled to Gainesville last week to scout Buchholz’s play-in game against Creekside. The Bobcats rolled to a 46-13 win.
“They actually remind me of us in a lot of ways,” Walls said. “Their offense is similar and they play hard and they play fast. They are also well-coached.”
Navarre has won its last eight games dating back to 2019. It has won its last three playoff openers. The Bobcats have rattled off seven consecutive wins. Like the Raiders, they missed the playoffs last year.
The Raiders know limiting mistakes is key in the postseason.
“You don’t want to make mistakes against a good team. And the same can be said about us. We’ve taken advantage of mistakes that have been made against us,” Walls said. “It comes down to not doing things that beat yourself. You have to execute.”
The Raiders are 6-4 in their four postseason trips over the last five years. They reached the semifinal round in 2016.
Navarre has put up 300 or more yards four times this season. It rolled up a season-best 445 yards against Choctaw.
Jaden Rivera has rushed for nearly 800 yards (787) and 12 touchdowns. He has 1,301 yards in his career.
Navarre has converted on 37-of-68 of its third-down opportunities. Its opponents are 27-of-69 on third down.
If the Raiders advance, they play the winner of the Niceville-Leon game next Friday at home.