Photo via John Glaser, TexasHSFootball.com

 
Navarro High in the town of Geronimo didn’t shy away from a tough non-district schedule. They played a tough slate, and it’s a good thing. It helped the Panthers prepare for a lengthy playoff run in 2016.

The Panthers prowled all over Giddings (37-21), Marion (76-6), Gonzales (55-11), La Grange (42-13), Refugio (14-6) and San Antonio Central Catholic (56-34) before obliterating the other four teams in District 13-4A Div. II by a combined score of 192-17.

Navarro entered into the playoffs with a sparkling 10-0 record and thumped Poteet in the first round, 70-14. The Panthers crushed Sweeny, 42-0, in the area round and outslugged Wharton, 55-34, in the regional. They gobbled up Cuero, 35-21, in the state quarterfinals before they faced every 4A team’s worst nightmare — the Mustangs of West Orange-Stark.

West Orange-Stark was an unstoppable machine in 2016, and they kept it humming all the way to a state title with a 49-7 win over Navarro in the state semifinal at NRG Stadium.

Navarro’s 14 wins and state semifinal appearance made 2016 hands down the best season in program history. The Panthers lose a lot of seniors, but there are plenty of underclassmen who saw copious amounts of playing time, and they got an extra five weeks of practice into mid-December.

Key Losses
RB Jake Wright, RB Ty Shelton, RB Jared Leal

Jake Wright was the District 13-4A DII Player of the Year and Ty Shelton was the district’s Defensive MVP. The Panthers had three seniors last season who all rushed for more than 1,000 yards.

Key Returners
QB Will Eveld, LB Tyler Law, C Garrett Dietert, OL Colton Bennett

Eveld was a fairly consistent passer last year, and he returns a big offensive line. Tyler Law was second on the team in tackles with 109 last year.

Verdict
Navarro has established itself as the benchmark of District 13-4A DII with three straight undefeated district titles and nine-consecutive playoff appearances.

Wimberley and Bandera pose the biggest threats in district this year as so many Navarro seniors graduated, but there’s no substitute for experience, and the Panthers definitely have that.

The non-district schedule hasn’t changed, and neither has the path to get to state. It still goes through Region III’s winner, and right now West Orange-Stark looks to be leading that pack — again.

Navarro should have another solid year with a core group of offensive linemen back to lead the way. Another 14 wins? Only time will tell.
 

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