No team in NCAA Division II history has ever made the playoffs twice in the first four years of its football program.
That is until the University of West Florida came along.
With that history achieved, the Argos will try to make a little more. They now take aim at winning their first national championship two years after finishing as the national runner-up.
Ranked 20th in the nation, UWF (8-2) begins its playoff journey against No. 16 Wingate (10-1) Saturday at Irwin Belk Stadium in North Carolina. Kickoff is 1 p.m. EST.
The opportunity to still be playing football in November is the result of putting the right pieces in place.
“It’s another great step for our program,” UWF head coach Pete Shinnick said. “When you look at building this team, we had to find the right fit for UWF and Pensacola. I give the coaches a ton of credit for finding those guys. I can’t be prouder of what our team has been able to accomplish.”
But there is still more to accomplish as far as the Argos are concerned.
Never mind that they are coming off their best regular season in program history or that they have won eight of their last nine games.
The last time the Argos faced the Bulldogs in a playoff game was 2017. UWF dominated in a 31-0 win.
Wingate is in the playoffs for the fourth time and is 2-3 all-time in the postseason. They come in after wrapping up their regular season with a 64-34 win over Mars Hill and rolled up 550 yards.
The Argos, meanwhile, capped their season with a 48-37 win over West Albama, churning out 544 yards of offense.
Wingate is cranking out 35.1 points per game and averaging just under 200 yards per game (199.2) on the ground while putting up 407.7 yards per outing overall. On the flip side, they are giving up 318.3 yards.
Shaw Crocker leads the offense with 2,008 yards through the air while the running game is anchored by Domineke McNeill, who has rushed for 944 yards and 10 scores. Jalen Brooks is the top target in the passing attack with 703 yards and six touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, Elijah Gimore leads the way with 74 tackles and three sacks.
But the Argos are confident as they head into the playoffs, locked in on the possibilities in front of them on a journey they hope ends Dec. 21 at McKinney ISD Stadium in Texas.
Navarre’s own Quentin Randolph believes this team is ready for the challenges ahead.
“I’m really confident in whatever game unfolds in the playoffs that we’ll be able to handle it,” Randolph said.
Austin Reed is the Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year, throwing for 2,439 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s highlighted that season with three games of four or more touchdown passes.
Randolph, is having the best year of his collegiate career. The former walk-on has 30 catches for 611 yards and five touchdowns. On 11 different occasions he’s caught three or more passes in a game and has had three 100-yard receiving games.
UWF is holding opponents to an average of 15.1 points per game while giving up 318.7 yards per outing.
Chanler Ferguson and Trent Archie lead the Argos’ opportunistic defensive effort with 60 tackles apiece.
UWF has won six or more games three times and is 4-1 all-time in postseason play.
Read the full article in the June 22 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.