Congratulations to Navarre Alum Xavier Fernandez on his commitment to Keiser University in West Palm Beach.
Navarre head coach Jay Walls stood in front of his team late Friday night, the pain of a 52-21 playoff loss to St. Augustine still fresh, the reality of the season coming to a close just beginning to sink in on a chilly evening on the East Coast of Florida.
Some of the players were fighting back tears. All of them had hoped for a different outcome at Foots Brumley Stadium.
Yet, despite this loss, a loss where the fourth-seeded Raiders (9-2) couldn’t match the fast and furious attack of the top-seeded Yellow Jackets (11-0), who always had an answer when Navarre looked like it was on the brink of a rally, Walls wanted his players to keep their heads held high.
“I told the kids you aren’t defined by one game, good or bad,” Walls said. “We are district champions, we are a playoff team, we have a winning record and we been in the playoffs six years in a row. We’re really competitive. I know the score doesn’t show it tonight, but our kids really competed.”
Three touchdowns by Dexter Brown was the biggest difference on a night when St. Augustine jumped on top 14-0 and never looked back. Brown scored on runs of 75, 80 and 93 yards, his speed simply unreal.
Yet, despite turnovers and despite missing out on scoring opportunities in the red zone, the Raiders only trailed 28-14 at halftime. Sage Chambers connected with Quinn Caballero in the closing seconds of the half, hitting him on a 10-yard scoring strike in the end zone on a fourth-down throw.
The second half typically belongs to the Raiders. Not this time. They found themselves down 38-14 with 7:17 left in the third quarter before Dante Wright caught a pass with no one around him and turned up the jets for a sprint down the left sideline to the end zone.
The pass play covered 82 yards and sliced the St. Augustine lead to 38-21. The Raider fans who packed the visiting stands cheered like crazy. Confetti was even thrown into the air.
Navarre never scored again. The Yellow Jackets kept scoring, ending the Raiders’ 16-game road win streak.
After the game, Chambers, a senior, had tears in his eyes. He even took a moment for a long embrace with his head coach.
“It hurts to lose, but the past four years in this program have been awesome,” Chambers said. “I love every single person in this program to death.”
For the players coming back next season, the work begins soon. They’ll take time to enjoy the holiday season and then prepare to make 2018 the best year yet.
“We have to look at the bright side, to look at all of the good things we did this year, and then get ready for next year,” Caballero said. “We’ll swallow this pill and keep on moving forward.”
Big thanks to the Navarre Press for this article
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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.
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It was an eerily similar finish to the last time Gulf Breeze and Navarre squared off with a district championship on the line.
The home team making a last-minute push for the winning score. The away team making a critical, final stop, sending their jubilant fans sprawling onto the field.
In 2017, that jubilant team was the Navarre Raiders, who knocked off bitter rival Gulf Breeze 29-23 at Dolphin Stadium on Friday night to claim the District 2-6A championship.
Navarre junior Dante Wright – who scored the game-winning touchdown on a 6-yard run with 11:14 remaining – picked off Gulf Breeze quarterback Dylon Kelley with less than 30 seconds remaining to end the Dolphins’ final drive.
As quarterback Sage Chambers kneeled out the closing seconds and Navarre’s fans rushed the field, redemption was in the air as the Raiders waved their team flag at midfield.
“Immediately after the game I remembered the feeling that they gave us last year,” Navarre linebacker Josh Carter said. “Everybody rushing on the field. We had to get payback and I was thinking that through the whole game and the whole week.
“I was planning on doing this because I knew coming in we had a game plan good enough to win this football game.”
Trailing 23-21 entering the fourth quarter, Navarre (7-1, 3-0) cracked down on defense and shut out the Dolphins (7-2, 2-1) in the final quarter.
Gulf Breeze leading rusher Ty Dittmer – who entered Friday’s game with 1,588 rushing yards – was able to get his against the Raiders, finishing with 174 rushing yards and two scores.
But after his 53-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half, Dittmer was largely held in check as the Raider defense forced two field goal attempts, one missed, and gave their offense time to get rolling.
“(Gulf Breeze) had a lot of momentum opening up the second half,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “They scored first and then we turned the ball over and they got great field position. Our kids played hard and I’m proud of them.”
That game-winning drive came largely on the back of Carter, who played both ways and ran so well – finishing with 115 rushing yards – the Gulf Breeze public address once confused him for his brother Michael, who knows plays for North Carolina.
After Carter picked up 22 and 42-yard chunks to move Navarre inside the Gulf Breeze 10, Wright finished off the drive with a 7-yard run out of the Wildcat.
Their Wildcat package – known as the “Big Cat” with Carter in the game – was a secret weapon Walls held back all year specifically for this game.
“I think that helps with the diversity of our offense,” Wright said. “We can run it. We have Wildcat packages. Whatever’s not working, we throw it out and put something new in.”
With playoff scenarios becoming clearer and clearer, Friday’s loss could be even more of a heartbreaker if it costs Gulf Breeze a playoff spot.
The Dolphins entered Friday’s game with the seventh most playoff points in Region 1-8A. With only eight teams qualifying per region and No. 8 Nease winning on Friday, next week’s game at Gadsden County (3-6) becomes all the more crucial.
“We talked about that, losing always sucks, (you’re) never gonna hear a good coach say losing is okay,” Gulf Breeze head coach Bobby Clayton said. “Losing is not what you want to do in this game, obviously good lessons learned in losses.
“Get back to work, see if we can launch ourselves in playoffs. I can’t imagine us not being in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile it was a joyous ride home for the Raiders back east along U.S. Highway 98.
The win clinched Navarre’s fifth district championship in program history. Surely few have been sweeter than the one just claimed.
“Heartbreaker last year for us and they were able to storm the field,” Walls said. “It worked out for us this year and our kids were able to jump on the field.
“It’s a good rivalry and we try to make it fun and keep it where it’s clean. I think the kids are overall doing a good job with it.”
Navarre: 0 21 0 8 – 29
Gulf Breeze: 7 7 9 0 – 23
G – Jake Weldon 6-yard run, 7:15, G 7-0
N – Sage Chambers 6-yard run, 11:51 7-7
N – Chambers 11-yard pass to Dante Wright, 6:10, 14-7
G – Tyler Dittmer 55-yard run, 4:33, 14-14
N – Chambers 53-yard pass to Sam Register, 4:11, N 21-14
G – Dittmer 53-yard run, 11:03, XP no good, N 21-20
G – Spencer Wirth 24-yard field goal, G 23-21
N – Wright 7-yard run, Wright 2 point conversion, N 29-23
Thanks to the Pensacola News Journal for their article.
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When you consider competition, across all prep sports, Navarre High and Gulf Breeze High might have the strongest, all-around rivalry in the area.
That it now extends to football, in a meaningful way, just ups the stakes. That’s why Friday’s Publix Beach Bowl Cup at Gulf Breeze High might be the hottest ticket of the fall — or the year, for that matter — with a District 2-Class 6A championship on the line for the second straight season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Gulf Breeze won last year, 31-28, to clinch its first district title since 1989.
“Friday means a potential district championship for both teams and schools,” Gulf Breeze principal Danny Brothers said. “Kids from both teams grew up competing against each other in city league sports and lot of them went to middle school together. It’s just fun to watch them compete on the football field at the varsity level with an opportunity for a district championship.
“Both communities enjoy this healthy rivalry. The rivalry is handled on the field and we haven’t had any issues off of the field. We take pride in keeping it on the field.”
Brothers and Gulf Breeze athletic director Matt Alt encourage fans to “get there early” and park at Gulf Breeze elementary and middle school, located across Gulf Breeze parkway from Dolphin Stadium. Parking will be “around $5.”
Navarre hosted the rivalry game last year, and Navarre athletic director Scott Murphy said that the game had 4,494 paying customers.
Alt and Brothers said that Dolphin Stadium can sit 6,000 to 7,000 people, but “are able to accommodate if that number hits (8,000) or 9,000.”
Fans will not be able to stand on the track but can stand around the fence that surrounds the field.
Tickets are $7 and can be purchased in advance using the GoFan app (https://gofan.co/app/events/9558) and the game will be streamed online by Gulf Breeze High’s broadcasting team.
The game will feature its annual canned food drive, spearheaded by Sharing and Caring. That will also serve as a competition between Navarre and Gulf Breeze High Schools and the winner will be announced at halftime.
OneBlood will also have a vehicle on site for a blood drive competition between schools.
“The canned-food competition has been going on for several years and both schools enjoy supporting the needy in the area,” Brothers said. “It’s been a fun competition and both competitions will be a great way to help those in need.”
Publix Beach Bowl Cup
Who: Navarre Raiders at Gulf Breeze Dolphins
Where: Gulf Breeze High (Dolphin Stadium)
Kickoff: 7:05 p.m., Friday
Tickets: $7, can be purchased using GoFan – https://gofan.co/app/events/9558 .
Parking: Gulf Breeze Elementary or Gulf Breeze Middle ($)
Live stream: GBHS broadcasting – http://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/gulf-breeze-high-school-gulf-breeze-fl/246876698f
For more information visit the PNJ.com for the full article.
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Huntingdon offensive lineman Chris Hering says Averett is a quality opponent, though the Hawks are hosting the Panthers for homecoming.
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Brahms was recruited from Navarre (Navarre, FL) class of 2017. He committed to Auburn on 7/9/2016.
Michael Carter breaks off for a 47-yard run
Michael Carter runs down the sideline to put Tar Heels in scoring position.
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Sage Chambers forgot his jersey for the trip to Milton. What he didn’t forget was how to play quarterback.
Behind a gutsy effort from the offensive line, the senior threw for more than 200 yards and hit Dante Wright on a pair of touchdown passes to catapult the Raiders to a 28-7 District 2-6A win over the Panthers on a muggy Friday night at Hurley Manning Field.
When asked if he was going to stick with the new number (18) and scrap his old one (15), he said he has no plans to.
“That was my fault. I got on the bus and didn’t check my bag,” Chambers said. “I left my jersey in the locker.”
He threw for more than 100 yards for the fifth time in the last six games and the Raiders got back on track after letting a 27-point lead slip away last week in a 35-27 loss to Escambia. Their road streak is now at 15 games and they have outscored Milton 107-7 over the last three seasons.
“We played a good first half last week and didn’t get it done in the second half,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “We talked about playing four quarters and finishing. We did that tonight. I’m proud of our effort.”
Ranked 10th in the state, Navarre (6-1 overall, 2-0 in the district) set the stage for what will be a fight for the district championship in two weeks against county rival Gulf Breeze. The Dolphins edged Pace 44-40 on Friday.
The offensive line played a crucial role in the victory, allowing Chambers time to throw and paving the way for Josh Carter’s touchdown run that put Navarre on top 7-0 with 9:07 left in the first half.
The key to the line’s success?
“Communication. Hands down communication,” senior lineman Aaron Smith said. “They were throwing some different defenses at us and we were talking to each other about it and got a handle on it.”
Milton (2-5, 0-2) tied the game at 7-7 but Dante Wright gave the Raiders the lead for good when he snagged a pass from Chambers and sprinted down the left sideline to the end zone. It was a three-score night for Wright, who ran for a touchdown in the early in the third and caught a scoring strike late in the fourth.
The defense deserves credit, too. Disappointed by last week’s performance, the Raiders got back to being relentless and making plays when it mattered most, keeping the Panthers off the scoreboard in the second half.
Matthew Downey’s interception during a Milton drive late in the first half seemed to swing the momentum in Navarre’s favor for good.
“It was a big play, a really big play,” Walls said. “They had great field position and were trying to get a score. Taking that momentum away was big.”
Speaking of big, the Beach Bowl between the Raiders and Dolphins is next. Both teams have a bye next week and then play Oct. 27 in Gulf Breeze.
As if the rivalry aspect of the game isn’t enough, an automatic berth to the postseason will be riding on it as well thanks to the new playoff format that takes four district champs and four at-large teams out of each region.
“It’s already a big game,” Walls said. “Now we just threw gasoline, gunpowder and everything on it.”
For the full article please see the Navarre Press
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Navarre is ready to move forward.
After a 27-point lead slipped away in a 35-27 loss to Escambia Friday night, the Raiders will look to get back on track Friday night when it takes on Milton in a District 2-6A game at 7:30 p.m.
The Raiders are 5-1 overall, 1-0 in the district and ranked 10th in the state. The Panthers are 2-4 overall and 0-1 in district action.
Navarre has lost only twice in its last 28 regular-season games. Navarre head coach Jay Walls doesn’t want his team to let last week’s loss affect it’s ability to be ready to roll this week.
“We can’t let Escambia beat us twice,” Walls said. “We can’t point the finger and we can’t make excuses. We just have to go to work and go on the road for a tough district game against Milton.”
Walls is confident his team will make the necessary adjustments to be ready for the Panthers and set the stage for what should be a showdown for the district championship in two weeks against rival Gulf Breeze.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have a big game coming up against (against Milton),” Walls said. “We’ll correct our mistakes and fix some things.”
14: Consecutive road games the Raiders have won.
227: Points Navarre has scored this season. Raiders scored a season-best 56 against Catholic and have scored 27 three times.
12: Offensive touchdowns Dante Wright has scored this season. He has also returned a pick for a score.
9: Rushing touchdowns by Omari Green. He leads the team in that category.
55: Tackle total for Josh Carter, who has also racked up 2.5 sacks. He leads the team in tackles.
Star Power: Sage Chambers completed 10 of his 20 passes for 146 yards against Escambia. He threw one touchdown pass…Dante Wright caught a touchdown pass and scored off an interception return against the Gators…Omari Green scored a touchdown against Escambia. Josh Carter returned a pick for a score. It’s his third defensive touchdown of the year. Carter finished with 16.5 tackles last week…Cade Taylor came up with 10 tackles while Wright and Bryson Brewer finished with 9.5 tackles apiece.
For the full article please see the Navarre Press
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