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Navasota Front Seven Dominates in Rattlers’ 39-3 Championship Rout of Gilmer

Navasota’s Jordan Wells (68) lunges for Gilmer quarterback Tanner Barr (10) during the Rattlers’ 39-3 victory in Friday’s 3A Division II state championship at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

ARLINGTON — Championship game Offensive MVP Austin Collins called Navasota teammates Jaylyin Minor and Jordan Wells “probably the two meanest people I’ve ever met in my life.”

After Friday’s Class 3A Division II title game, Gilmer’s offense probably agrees.

Wells, a hefty junior defensive tackle, controlled the line of scrimmage, while Minor, a physical senior linebacker, cleaned up behind him as part of a Rattler front seven that did virtually whatever it wanted. Wells had 10 tackles, six for loss, and forced a fumble to earn Defensive MVP honors in Navasota’s 39-3 win, the Rattlers’ first state championship in school history.

Navasota (16-0) held Gilmer (14-2) to 162 total yards on 67 plays for an average of 2.53 yards per play. Navasota’s pressure, aided by senior defensive end Jake Bauer, who had nine tackles and a sack, forced Gilmer into a miserable day passing. The Buckeyes completed only 6 of 26 attempts for 79 yards and an interception, which ended Gilmer’s first possession of the game. Wells collapsed the pocket on that play, hitting Gilmer junior quarterback Tanner Barr as he released the ball to cause the interception.

“It’s hard to be Jaylyin Minor and Jordan Wells’ friend,” joked Collins, who scored three touchdowns and averaged 22.9 yards on seven touches. “They’re probably the two meanest people I’ve ever met in my life. … It’s hard getting out of Jaylyin and J.D.’s hands. They’re just so strong and physical and reckless. It pays off, though. I’m glad I’m not on the opposite team.”

Solomon McGinty, a senior receiver and outside linebacker who aided Navasota’s in-the-box defensive dominance, agreed.

“Jaylyin Minor’s a calf-roper. Then you’ve got J.D. that just doesn’t like no running back at all or no quarterback at all,” said McGinty, who caught five passes for 65 yards, made five tackles, and recovered a fumble. “Once you’re in his hands, God bless you.”

Gilmer faced strong defensive fronts all season such as Plano Prestonwood, Kilgore, Henderson, and Argyle.

Barr said Navasota’s stood out.

“They are by far the best front seven we’ve played all year,” said Barr, who was held to 21 yards on 16 carries, most of which were scrambles as he tried to evade Navasota’s pressure. “(Wells and Minor) are legit.”

The final tackles-for-loss count: 13.

Sacks: four.

Takeaways: three.

Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor said Navasota’s talent and scheme made offensive play calling difficult.

“They play a lot of two-deep zone behind them, which means it’s heavy coverage back there in the back. So if you can protect you think you can get down in there somewhere, but we couldn’t because we couldn’t protect,” Traylor said. “(Wells) is a fantastic player. Everybody I talked to all week, if we could block (Wells and Minor) we thought we might have had a chance to get after them some. But (Wells) was just too superior for us. We tried to double him, we tried to triple him, and he was just too much. When you can’t call a quick, a drop-back pass, or a run, you’re job gets pretty frustrating.”

A unit overshadowed all season by an offense averaging 45 points per game delivered as it had all season, but saved perhaps its best for last on the biggest stage. Navasota finished a spectacular season defensively by allowing three points to a team averaging 45 points per game in the postseason.

Navasota’s final points allowed per game: 6.9.

“After watching them in two-a-days, we knew they were going to be talented,” said Navasota coach Lee Fedora. “Tuesday used to scare me every day in practice because that was our hitting day. They would knock the fire out of each other, but what these kids would do is have a smile on their face, and that was for 16 weeks.”

Navasota’s Jaylyin Minor tracks down Gilmer’s Jamel Jackson during the Rattlers’ 39-3 win in Friday’s 3A Division II state championship at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

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