Juggernaut Navasota Stands in the Way of Gilmer and Third State Championship
Class 3A Division II
Navasota Rattlers (15-0)
Gilmer Buckeyes (14-1)
4 p.m. Friday
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington
Navasota: Lee Fedora
Gilmer: Jeff Traylor
Road To Arlington
- Bi-district: def. China Spring, 62-16
- Area: def. Jasper, 59-14
- Regional semifinal: def. La Marque, 31-20
- Region III final: def. West Orange-Stark, 38-7
- State semifinal: def. Bellville, 24-7
- Bi-district: def. Canton, 51-36
- Area: def. Atlanta, 57-13
- Regional semifinal: def. Argyle, 42-21
- Region II final: def. Henderson, 41-34
- State semifinal: def. Graham, 50-7
- QB Ka'Darius Baker, Sr. (246 of 390, 4,252 yards, 53 TDs, 8 INTs)
- WR Solomon McGinty, Sr. (82 catches, 1,654 yards, 20 TDs)
- WR/DB Austin Collins, Sr. (88 catches, 1,711 yards, 26 TDs; 67 tackles, 7 INTs, 14 pass-break ups, 1 forced fumble)
- RB/DB Xavier Creeks, Sr. (117 carries, 1,017 yards, 8 TDs; 16 catches, 194 yards, 1 TD; 75 tackles, 2 INTs, 7 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery)
- LB Jaylyin Minor, Sr. (166 tackles, 8 sacks, 16 QB pressures, 4 pass break-ups, 7 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
- DE Jordan Wells, Jr. (153 tackles, 13 sacks, 27 QB pressures, 7 forced fumbles, 2 blocked kicks)
- LB Jake Bauer, Sr. (119 tackles, 7 sacks, 16 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 4 recoveries, 2 blocked kicks)
- DL Dustin Savensky, Sr. (170 tackles, 2 QB pressures, 1 INT, 6 pass break-ups, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
- RB Derrion Randle, Soph. (59 carries, 482 yards, 7 TDs)
- K Michael Martinez, Soph. (13 FGs, 84 PATs)
- QB Tanner Barr, Jr., 6-1, 175 (237 of 382, 2,873 yards, 25 TDs, 13 INTs; 124 carries, 849 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB/LB Josh Walker, Jr., 6-1, 220 (87 carries, 611 yards, 15 TDs; 19 catches, 275 yards, 3 TDs; 9 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries; committed to Texas A&M)
- RB Kris Boyd, Soph., 5-11, 185 (153 carries, 1,259 yards, 19 TDs; 18 catches, 205 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR Slade Morris, Sr. (20 catches, 337 yards, 4 TDs)
- ATH Jaidon Parrish, Jr., 6-0, 180 (33 catches, 433 yards, 4 TDs)
- NG Xavier Fluellen, Sr., 6-1, 260 (105 tackles, 4 sacks, 9 QB pressures, 5 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- WR/DB Trey Washington, Sr., 6-1, 175 (31 catches, 332 yards, 2 TDs; 59 tackles, 3 INTs, 6 pass break-ups; committed to SMU)
- RB Jamel Jackson, Soph. (75 carries, 620 yards, 8 TDs)
- ATH Chase Tate, Soph., 5-5, 150 (38 carries, 263 yards, 1 TD; 56 catches, 491 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Patrick Finch, Sr. (38 catches, 458 yards, 4 TDs)
Just the facts
- After having its season end in the regional-final round in each of the last three years, Navasota is in its first state championship game since 1988.
- Navasota has rolled to a 15-0 season. The Rattlers' closest game all season was an 11-point win over La Marque in the regional semifinals.
- The Rattlers average 444.3 yards and 45 points per game.
- Navasota's defense has been responsible for five shutouts, holding opponents to just 7.1 points per game.
- The Rattlers have gone 45-8 since 2009, but their last three seasons have been ended by East Texas teams in the playoffs -- losing to Gilmer 42-35 in 2009, Chapel Hill 42-13 in 2010 and Chapel Hill 56-46 last year.
- Gilmer's been on a roll, winning 13 straight since a 42-12 loss to Plano Prestonwood on Sept. 7.
- The Buckeyes are in their fifth state championship game in program history. They lost in 1981 to Cameron Yoe, defeated Jasper in 2004, lost to Liberty Hill in 2007 and took down Abilene Wylie in 2009.
- Gilmer has more wins than any Class 3A team in the state since 2000, compiling a 148-23 record.
- The Buckeyes are averaging 455.1 yards and 39.7 points per game.
- In five playoff games, Gilmer has averaged 517 yards and 48.2 points per game.
Key matchup: Navasota receivers vs. Gilmer secondary. It'd be hard to find a better 1-2 punch of receivers in the entire state than that of Navasota's duo of Austin Collins and Solomon McGinty. The two have combined for 170 receptions, 3,365 yards and 46 touchdowns. That equates to 66 percent of the team's catches, 77 percent of the yardage and 85 percent of the TD receptions. The next three leaders in the Navasota receiving corps have combined for just 51 catches and seven touchdowns. So if Gilmer is able to limit the production of both Collins and McGinty with its tandem of Patrick Finch and DeVondrick Dixon at cornerback and Trey Washington and Dylan Bowman at safety, the Buckeyes will be containing a big part of Navasota's explosive offense. Gilmer's defense did a number on 3,000-yard passer Ben Davis of Graham last week, holding him to just 13 completions on 29 attempts. Navasota quarterback Ka'Darius Baker is much more talented than Davis, but if Gilmer is able to apply enough pressure by blitzing linebackers Josh Walker and Demarco Boyd off the edge, that might give the cover guys a better chance of staying with the Rattlers' dangerous duo of receivers.
- Gilmer quarterback Tanner Barr on playing for a state championship: “It’s bittersweet. You always dream of doing this. Jerry World’s … it doesn’t get any bigger than this. We get to practice in December and there’s only a few teams in Texas that get to do that. We’re fortunate enough that we worked hard enough in the offseason, summer and every day in practice that we could do this.”
- Barr on Navasota's defense: “They’re athletic and big. They’re fast, strong, quick … they’re great. We’re going to get out there and give it the best we have. They’re big like Kilgore, but their defensive scheme, we haven’t seen one like it this year. They compare to Kilgore in the way they look and their speed, but we’re just going to get after them.”
Don't be surprised if: Navasota makes a point to come out and attack the Gilmer defense deep down the field early in the game. The Rattlers come in as the favorite and would like nothing more than to take the Gilmer crowd out of the game early with a couple of big plays at the outset. If this is the case, the Buckeyes should not feel overwhelmed, already having overcome big deficits throughout the season, including a 17-point comeback against Henderson two weeks ago. Navasota was held to a season-low 24 points last week against Bellville, and the offense only scored two touchdowns, so the Rattlers may put a big emphasis on starting strong this week. Navasota may not be able to survive a sluggish start against a Gilmer team that has gotten better with each passing week.