Jay Walls sits in his office on a Monday afternoon in late April, which happens to be the day spring practice is allowed to begin for prep football teams across the state.
But the Raiders, the reigning regional champs, opt to hold off on the start of spring football until May 1.
“I’m interested in quality, not quantity,” Walls said. “I think we can get 14 days in and play the spring game and be fine.”
The focus of spring practice, as usual, is on evaluating talent. There is an extra emphasis on it this spring because Navarre returns only five offensive starters and four defensive starters from a team that went 12-2 and advanced to the state semifinals for the second time in program history.
“We have a lot of work to do, but that’s every year,” Walls said. “We have a good idea of what our returning guys can do but want to evaluate the younger guys. We have players on our freshman and JV teams that have shown potential, and we want to see where we are with trying to fill spots.”
Filling the void at running back is a focal point after the graduation of all-time leading rusher Michael Carter, who is now at North Carolina. Carter rushed for more than 2,500 yards last season.
“We feel we have guys coming up like Omari Green, Chris Williams and Darnell Deas who we think have the ability and talent to be great running backs,” Walls said. “With Michael gone, it’s time for someone else to step up.”
Sage Chambers is expected to step up at quarterback. He is the lone returnee at the position but battled injuries a year ago. Chambers threw for a little over 400 yards. Dylon Kelley was expected to compete for the backup position but has transferred to Gulf Breeze.
“We expect Sage to be as good or better than he was last year,” Walls said. “If he stays healthy, he should have a great year.”
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