NAVARRE – After vanquishing three Santa Rosa County rivals in the first three weeks of the season, the Navarre Raiders will face a completely different challenge this week in the District 1-7A opener.
Not only do the Raiders have to travel 195 miles to take on the Lincoln Trojans in the league opener, they’ll have to do so on a short week, playing the Trojans tonight at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee.
“Traditionally, they are a really good program,” Navarre coach Jay Walls said of the Trojans. “We hear they are really good this year. So, we’re expecting a tough game on the road."
The Trojans (2-1) are coming off a 43-0 win over Tate and their only loss of the season has come against perennial power Rockledge, which is ranked No. 4 in Class 5A.
Lincoln is traditionally stacked with Division I prospects, and this year is no different. The Trojans are led by 6-4, 220-pound tight end prospect Sage Ennis, who is verbally committed to Clemson.
The Trojans also feature Jalen Glaze, a 6-0, 185-pound cornerback verbally committed to Minnesota, and Michael Please, a 6-3, 220-pound linebacker committed to Southern Miss.
Lincoln’s offense is somewhat of a two-headed monster right now with senior Chris Beard and sophomore standout Perry Fisher splitting time under center. Last week, Fisher sparked the Trojans in the second quarter with a 35-yard touchdown run.
Athlete Markus Knight, who is listed as a three-star prospect, had a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown in the win against Tate, and the Trojans also had a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown from Darien Lawrence as the Trojans defense set the tone early in the contest.
The Raiders (3-0) certainly know a thing or two about defense setting the tone, getting a shutout win over Pace two weeks ago before coming up with a big defensive play in the closing minutes of Friday’s win over Milton.
“Second half, I thought our defense played great,” Walls said. “We turned the ball over too much, had some penalties. I made some bad decisions, didn’t handle some things well.
“It was a great effort by our kids. We’ve been talking to them all week about the opportunity of going on the road and playing a good team like Milton.”
The Raiders will have to continue to be road warriors these next few weeks as they play Lincoln before heading to Pensacola to take on powerful Pine Forest.
“Our kids have confidence (playing on the road),” Walls said. “We are going on the road next week. We have to be on top of our game. We are 3-0, couldn’t ask for anything more. I think we’re getting better.”