The returning members of the Escambia and Navarre football teams can surely remember the last time the squads clashed on Nov. 14.
The Gators hosted the Raiders in the first round of the playoffs (Region 1-6A quarterfinal) as temperatures dropped to the low 40s.
While Escambia held a two-possession lead after two quarters, the Raiders rallied in the second half to secure a thrilling 44-30 win.
“(Our team) remembers that game, but that’s about as far as it goes,” Escambia coach Mike Davis said. “We don’t view it as a revenge thing, just a game on the schedule we can use to get better.”
This Friday at 7:30 p.m., Navarre (6-0, 1-0 in District 2-6A) plays host to Escambia (4-2, 0-1 in District 1-6A) in what could be a preview of a playoff game this year.
The Raiders’ perfect start has been no fluke. Navarre has fought adversity after losing one of its top players — Michael Carter — and has earned a tough win over Choctaw in Week Three.
Navarre has been running through opponents, averaging more than 311 rushing yards per game. Hassan Williams has been critical for Navarre, averaging 7.4 yards-per-carry.
Navarre’s defense has been extremely aggressive, producing 25 sacks (Xavier Fernandez 7, Anthony Miller 5) and forcing six interceptions (Michael Sandle 3).
The Gators will have to take care of the football, after suffering four turnovers in the fourth quarter of last Friday’s loss at Pine Forest.
“(Whichever team takes better care of the football) is probably who will win the game,” Davis said. “It was that way last week (at Pine Forest).
“Navarre is solid on defense and they rush the ball good. They look good on both sides of the ball.”
Escambia’s two losses are by a combined 15 points, to two tough teams — New Orleans Jesuit (defending state champ) and Pine Forest — and the Gators still hold the mentality that they can be a threat when the postseason rolls around.
The Gators will rely on Jabir Frye, who has lined up as tailback and under center this season and has racked up 11 TDs.
Behind Frye on the Gators scoring list is standout kicker Emilio Maldonado with 31 points and could be a difference maker on Friday night.
“We hope our guys down have a let down, after the Pine Forest game,” Davis said. “Hopefully they rebound, have a good mentality and are ready for the game.”
Want to go?
What: Escambia Gators at Navarre Raiders.
Records: Escambia (4-2, 0-1); Navarre (6-0, 1-0).
Where: Navarre High.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday.