STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
-NAVASOTA- There are things in life that just seem to go great together: peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers and baseball and hotdogs.
The Navasota Rattlers and the high school football playoffs are another pairing that just seems to go great together, and Friday night the pairing will once again take place.
The Rattlers (9-1), fresh off their second consecutive outright District 23-3A title, will open the Class 3A Division I playoffs when they take on the Sealy Tigers (8-2) at Waller ISD Stadium in a 7:30 p.m. clash.
The two programs, which have become very familiar with each other through the years, will meet for the second straight season, in the same place where the Rattlers posted a 33-17 victory last year. The Rattlers hold a 12-4 lead in the all-time series between the schools.
“Last year is over,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “They’ve got a new team and we’ve got a new team.”
While the majority of each team is new, there are some familiar faces, especially on the Sealy side of the ledger, where standout Ricky Seals-Jones returns to lead the Tigers’ offense.
Last season Seals-Jones was featured as a receiver, but this time around, he has done most of his damage from the backfield. Seals-Jones has thrown for 761 yards and eight touchdowns, while rushing for another 1,245 and 15 touchdowns.
Jowan Davis, who finished the regular season with 1,167 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, joins him in the backfield.
“Sealy is a good football team and they are well coached,” Fedora said. They’ve got athletes on the offensive side of the ball. The scary thing about Seals-Jones when he is back there is he can hurt you throwing the football but if you cover the pass he can take off and run. He is big and physical and he is a playmaker.”
The Rattlers counter with an offensive attack that is led by junior quarterback Kadarius Baker who has thrown for 33 touchdowns, with only two interceptions. He has a host of receivers to throw to, led by Solomon McGinty, Austin Collins and Austin Baumert.
Navasota’s lone loss this season came in Week 2, when they dropped a 35-28 decision at Class 4A Willis. In that game the Rattlers played a horrible first half, but battled back and found themselves with a chance to go in for the potential tying, or game-winning score on the final play of the game.
A sneak by Baker came up a half-yard short, but that loss seemed to serve as a springboard for the Rattlers who have one eight straight games since.
“There is something about this group, the team chemistry,” Fedora said. There is not one guy that wants to stand out. They just want to be part of a team and a family and they have great team chemistry.
“That is nothing that a coach can do. I can’t get my coaching staff to go in and make them have chemistry. That is something the kids do on their own.”
The winner of Friday’s game will advance to the regional round to face the winner between Silsbee and Huffman Hargrave. Those two teams meet on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Humble’s Turner Stadium.
The Navasota-Sealy game can be heard live on Navasota News 1550 KWBC beginning with the pregame at 7:05.
Navasota-Sealy All-Time Series
Navasota leads 12-4
1970 Sealy 7, Navasota 0
1971 Navasota 27, Sealy 0
1980 Navasota 33, Sealy 0
1981 Navasota 23, Sealy 3
1982 Navasota 28, Sealy 6
1983 Navasota 39, Sealy 0
1984 Navasota 47, Sealy 0
1985 Navasota 27, Sealy 17
1988 Navasota 28, Sealy 7
1989 Sealy 10, Navasota 7
2002 Navasota 19, Sealy 0
2003 Sealy 16, Navasota 13
2004 Navasota 27, Sealy 21
2005 Sealy 55, Navasota 0
2008 Navasota 35, Sealy 0
2010 Navasota 33, Sealy 17