Navarre head coach Jay Walls said he tried to get a game scheduled for last Friday night rather than have a bye week but it didn’t work out.
Of course, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when the one considers the grind that comes with the territory of a football season.
“We gave them Monday and Friday off (last week), and then we only went one day in full gear,” Walls said. “We worked on getting guys healthy, and I think, knock on wood, we came out of the open week healthier. Hopefully that is a plus.”
Not only did the Raiders get a chance to recover physically but they had extra time to prepare for Choctaw, which welcomes Navarre to town Friday for a 7 p.m. non-district showdown.
“We were able to get a jump on the next opponent. That was a big focus of the open week,” Walls said. “We did some extra game planning and we also focused on us. We looked at what we have to do to get better as a team.”
The Raiders (2-0) enter the game ranked eighth in the state and have won 14 consecutive regular season games dating back to 2014.
But they aren’t facing a typical Choctaw team.
It’s been a tough start for the Indians (0-3), who are coming off a 41-0 loss to Rickards last Friday night, the second time they have allowed 40 or more this season. They lost 46-10 to Pine Forest in week two and opened the year with a 38-29 loss to Gulf Breeze.
On paper at least, it looks like the game will play out much differently than it did a year ago when the Raiders and Indians went right down to the wire in a 16-14 Navarre victory at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.
But games aren’t won on paper and just because an opponent is down and out doesn’t mean it can’t rise back up at any time.
“Without a doubt, and a we have cautioned our guys about that,” Walls said. “We know Choctaw as a strong program because of what they have done in the past. It’s not a matter of they aren’t working hard or aren’t coaching hard. Their kids play hard. We know they are better than their record. It’s important we don’t take them lightly. We have to prepare hard and treat them as if they are undefeated.”
Plus, this game is on the road. In fact, the last time Navarre played at Choctaw, it lost 25-15. It was the last time the Raiders suffered a loss in the regular season.
“Choctaw is tough at home, and if you look at our history, we haven’t done well over at their place,” Walls said. “The big key is just playing sound football. We can’t mistakes or turn the ball over. But that’s easier said than done. We have to play good defensively, have to play really good in the kicking game and offensively, we have to be able to run and throw the football.”