Raiders open long-awaited season with a win

As crazy as 2020 has been, some things never change.

Like Navarre finding a way to win football games.

The Raiders did it again Friday night. They opened the long-awaited campaign with a 17-7 win over Pace on the road.

More than three months after beginning summer workouts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and a week after Hurricane Sally hit Northwest Florida, the Raiders snagged a shred of normalcy by raising the curtain on the high school football season.

“I felt like a little kid with my parents just letting me run free. I had a great time tonight,” senior running back Jaden Rivera said.

Rivera played a key role in a win that came in front of a crowd of nearly 3,000 at the Patriots’ home field.

He scored a pair of touchdowns and rushed for more than 100 yards behind an experienced offensive line. His second TD came off a 10-yard run two minutes into the third quarter. That score punctuated Navarre’s opening drive of the second half. Navarre led 17-7 at that point.

Navarre’s defense iced the game with a defense that consistently swarmed to the ball. It gave up little in the run game.

Jaden Jones, who moved in from North Carolina this year, picked off two passes in his Raider debut and helped his new team pitch a second-half shutout.

Being a quarterback at his old high school helped his cause.

“Whatever read he (the quarterback) reads, I read and I’m there,” Jones said.

Jones looked as if he was going to run his first pick back for a score before getting tackled.

“I tried to score off it, but I kind of messed it up,” Jones said.

But all that mattered in the end was that the Raiders prevailed. They extended their win streak over the Patriots to nine games. They also won on the road for the 24th time in their last 28 outings.

Navarre head coach Jay Walls will take it. He cherished the win a little more considering all his team has endured in 2020.

“Just to get to finally play was awesome, and then, what a good game,” Walls said. “I thought our kids played really hard and I thought Pace played really hard. Just a heck of a ball game to open up the season.”

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