The game is bigger than the trip. That was the message Navarre head coach Jay Walls gave his team after its 49-47 win over Niceville in the opening round of the 6A playoffs Friday night at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.
The game Walls is referring to is the regional semifinal showdown with top-seeded St. Augustine Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, and that game will be played on the road against the Yellow Jackets at HL Brumley Stadium.
Navarre is no stranger to the nearly 400-mile journey. The Raiders (9-1) made the trek a year ago and came away with a 28-10 win and a ticket to the state semifinals for the second time in program history.
Senior quarterback Sage Chambers believes film study is critical to success against the unbeaten Yellow Jackets (10-0), who are ranked seventh in the state. Navarre is 10th.
“Winning this game comes down to studying a lot of film, seeing what the defense does, looking at tendencies,” Chambers said. “We’re going to scout em up and be ready to work.”
The Raiders will be up against a St. Augustine team that features a quarterback who has thrown for more than 2,200 yards in Austin Reed. He has tossed 29 scoring strikes and has been picked off five times. Running back Dexter Brown has rolled up 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns while catching two touchdown passes as well for an offense that has scored 40 or more six times, including in last Friday’s 49-14 win over Tate.
Defensively, St. Augustine has given up 20 or more only once and has blanked three opponents. Linebacker Rylan Shugart leads the way with 58 tackles.
“We need to bring our A game and have to be intense and focused all week,” senior linebacker Cade Taylor said.
Sage Chambers has thrown for 1,538 yards and 17 touchdowns, throwing two or more scoring strikes six times.
Dante Wright has rushed for 544 yards and 10 touchdowns and has rolled up 756 receiving yards to go along with 13 touchdown catches, the most ever in a single-season. Wright is also third in tackles (51.5).
Omari Green leads the rushing attack with 744 yards and nine scores.
Sam Register (13 catches, 200 yards) and Quinn Caballero (20 catches, 263 yards) each have at least 200 receiving yards this season.
Josh Carter has nearly 100 tackles (95.5) and has scored four offensive touchdowns as well.
Cade Taylor is over the 90-tackle mark (93) and has rung up 5.5 sacks.
James Segrest has come up with 48.5 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Jordan Jefferson has made 46 tackles to go along with five sacks.
Head coach Jay Walls is one win away from 60 in his career at Navarre. He boasts a 59-14 record and is in his sixth season.
The Raiders have churned out nearly 3,700 yards, going over 400 yards in a game four times and putting 40 or more on the scoreboard five times.
Navarre has won its last 16 games on the road and has won four of its last five playoff games. The Raiders won three road playoff games last year.
The Raiders have been solid on the money down this season. Opponents are 40-for-120 on third down.
Navarre has racked up 44 sacks.
Be sure to pick up your copy of the Nov. 16 edition of the Navarre Press for more coverage of the Raiders. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.