Business-like in the locker room Friday night, Navarre mildly celebrated its shutout win over Pace at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.
There were a few cheers here and there in the wake of a 34-0 win.
However, most of the excitement among the players seemed to stem from watching replays of Raider alum Dante Wright catching his first career touchdown pass at Colorado State in the Rams’ season opener against Colorado in Denver.
Still, keeping an opponent off the scoreboard is a big deal and eighth-year head coach Jay Walls acknowledged as much in a post game interview.
“I was proud of the shutout. Our defense played great the whole night,” Walls said.
To understand the kind of night it was for the Patriots (0-2) when it came to moving the ball against the Raiders (2-0), consider the end of their opening drive.
On third-and-11, Grady Kelly proved to be a wall on a quarterback sneak attempt, forcing the Patriots to punt. A blocked field goal, three and outs and few opportunities to run or throw the ball told the story for Pace, which had no answer for a hard-hitting Navarre defense.
Grady Kelly came through with a few sacks and constantly led a wave of pressure on the quarterback to help keep the shutout intact.
“It was good to see Grady do that,” Walls said. “Last year, as a 10th grader, he was hard to block. He had a big night. Grady is coming on and playing good ball.”
Trent Hall is playing good ball as well. He sees time on both sides of the ball and caught his first career touchdown pass, diving into the end zone after making a 30-yard catch with seven seconds left in the opening half.
“We played extremely well (on defense),” Hall said. “We had a few slip ups, but made up for it. Coach (Garrett) Bagley does a lot for us, helping us to learn situations. It really helps.”
It helps having a balanced offensive attack, too. The Raiders once again put it on display.
Jaydin Antonio rushed for two touchdowns and had a third one taken away on a holding call.
“Heck yeah I was mad,” Antonio said. It’s something we need to work on, but I’ll put it behind me and keep working hard.”
Hit as a he made the throw, Marlon Courtney connected with a wide-open Gabe Davis on a 48-yard scoring strike. Isaiah Miller rumbled 17 yards straight ahead for a score in leading the Raiders to their 40th win in their last 44 games.
“Offensively, we did some really good things running and throwing the ball,” Walls said. “We opened it up a little bit more tonight.”
The shutout win was another step forward on a journey the Raiders hope is a long one. Their next stop is a road game against Milton next Friday.
“We played them in the spring game. We know a little bit about them,” Antonio said. “I’m pretty sure we will be ready.”