Navarre ready for return to the football field

A strange couple of weeks for Navarre’s football team are finally over.

The Raiders return to the field tonight. They take on Andalusia in a 7:30 p.m. home game at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.

Navarre hasn’t played since Oct. 8 when it rolled past Choctaw 50-21 in its first home game of the year.

The Raiders were supposed to square off against Niceville last week at Eagles Stadium but canceled the game over COVID-19 concerns.

They then came to an agreement with Fort Walton Beach to not play this week because of issues the Vikings are having with COVID-19. 

But that decision left the Raiders without a game for this week. They initially scheduled a game with Clearwater Academy for Thursday night. But within an hour after agreeing to play, Clearwater backed out.

Raider head coach Jay Walls was able to make a call to Andalusia to get a game on the slate.

“I wanted to do all I could to find us a game,” Walls said. “At this point, we are very fortunate that things fell into place.”

The Raiders (3-0) had been playing solid football prior to the layoff, having now won their last five games dating back to last season. The 50 points against the Indians was a season high as was the 445 yards they rolled up against Choctaw.

Andalusia comes into the game having won its last four, with the last three wins coming in shutout fashion. The Bulldogs have scored 30 or more three times during that stretch.

Quarterback Jake Wilson has thrown for 760 yards and seven touchdowns and Michael Hourel Jr. has rushed for 461 yards and five scores.

While Walls said the team has spent time focusing on a game plan for the Bulldogs, a lot of its emphasis in practice has been on itself.

“Andalusia has a good football team and we have to put a game plan in, but we also have to focus a lot on ourselves because we haven’t played a game in two weeks,” Walls said.

The Raiders have two games left in the regular season after tonight and are just hoping to navigate their way through that schedule before its playoff opener on Nov. 20 against Creekside or Buccholz.

“We definitely want to try to maintain momentum, stay healthy and continue to improve each week,” Walls said.

Noteworthy

Navarre has churned out 801 yards on the ground this season, going over 200 yards in each game. Jaden Rivera leads the team with 438 yards and six scores. He has 952 rushing yards in his varsity career.

Zach Marquis is coming off a breakout game. He threw for three touchdowns in the win over Choctaw. He has connected on 12 of his 23 attempts for 174 yards. Jason Deal is 6-for-15 for 115 yards and two scores.

The Raiders have held their first three opponents to 100 yards rushing, including a season-low 63 against Pace.

Grady Kelly leads Navarre with 23 tackles and his two sacks against Choctaw made him the all-time leader in that category with 21.

Navarre is playing a team from Alabama for the first time since 2015 when it went to Dothan and came away with a 43-22 win.

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