It could have unraveled in one moment.
Auburn recruit Eli Stove bolted 70 yards in a wide-open field on a touchdown reception to give Niceville a 7-0 lead over Navarre less than a minute into Friday night’s showdown of state-ranked teams at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.
The third-ranked Raiders, in pursuit of perfection, were staring at the possibility being history instead of making it.
Navarre head coach Jay Walls wouldn’t let his team hit the panic button.
“I told our guys Niceville is a good team,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “I told them not to press and don’t play tight. Just keep playing. They played great.”
Navarre has faced adversity before and never blinked. They lost two running backs to injury this season, including the highly recruited Michael Carter, and that in itself could have ruined the hopes for success the Raiders have dreamed about all year.
Yet, the Raiders keep fighting. And even when they trailed 13-7 early in the second quarter, they punched back, scoring the next 28 points to put an exclamation point on a perfect regular season.
Navarre 35, Niceville 13 is what the scoreboard read – at least it would have had it worked — as the players celebrated on the field late Friday. The moment was special and the Raiders planned to enjoy it.
Read the full story in the Nov. 12 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.