Ready for some football?
The Navarre Raiders are.
After months of workouts and practices, plus an additional week-long delay because of Hurricane Sally, the Raiders are finally going to play football in 2020.
Unsure if this moment would happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Navarre kicks off the year against Pace tonight in a 7:30 p.m. game in Pace.
It’s the culmination of nearly three months of workouts and practice.
“We’re tired of practicing. It’s time to play. The kids need to play,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said.
The Raiders are coming off an up-and-down 6-4 season. But they closed on a high note, winning three of their last four.
Yet, they missed the postseason for the first time since 2011.
The Raiders are determined to make a title run this year. The first obstacle on that road is Pace, which went 3-7 but is typically one of the better teams in the area.
“They are always physical and they run the ball well. They are also well-coached and always play hard,” Walls said.
Walls said he likes the way his team has handled practice after having its opener against Milton canceled because of the storm.
“They were disappointed about not playing because of all the preparation that went into it, but they’ve bounced back and we’ve had a good week,” Walls said.
Walls is looking forward to seeing his team play a real game for the first time since the Raiders closed out 2019 with a 52-14 win over Crestview.
“I told the guys there are going to be mistakes made because it’s the first game, but we have to make sure we play with great effort,” Walls said. “We have to be physical and out-block them and make tackles.”
Navarre has won 44 of its last 52 games in the regular season. They have won 23 of their last 27 games on the road.
The Raiders scored 30 or more four times in 2019.
Navarre notched the first of its two shutout wins of the year last season by blanking Pace 34-0. The Raiders have won their last eight against the Patriots. Their last loss to Pace was in 2011 when they fell 27-23.
Opponents were 42-of-115 on third down last season.
The Raiders have won nine or more games four times in the last five seasons.