STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
The Navasota Rattlers have defeated teams from their own classification as well as one from a lower classification. Friday night they try their hand at beating one from a higher classification when they play host to the Austin McCallum Knights.
The Rattlers and the Knights will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Rattler Stadium. The game can be heard live on Navasota News 1550 AM, with the pregame starting at 7.
The Knights, who play in District 26-4A, have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team under first-year coach Jason Cecil.
McCallum (3-2) started the season with back-to-back victories, and then was shutout in its next two games losing 35-0 to Hutto and 55-0 to Vista Ridge. They bounced back last week, however, posting a 62-6 victory over Austin Reagan.
“They have got talent and they are a team that if you let them play with you, they are going to play with you,”Navasotahead coach Lee Fedora said. “It is going to be a challenge for us. The great thing is we get them at our house and the kids are excited.
“We don’t look that they are 4A, that is no big deal to us. 4A, 3A, 2A, we’ve got to come out and play our style.”
The No. 1-ranked Rattlers, meanwhile, have been a model of consistency on their way to a 5-0 start. Using a combination of a high-flying offense and a stingy defense, the Rattlers have been able to blow opponents out, with the closet margin of victory being 28 points against Coldspring, which, at the time, was ranked No. 2.
Though the Knights have been inconsistent in reaching the end zone, they have been able to consistently run the ball, averaging 212.8 yards per game on the ground.
That number is due in large part to dual-threat quarterback Griffin Stuesser, who threw for 1,838 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. This year he leads the team in rushing, with 322 yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries (6.6 yards per carry).
“That is what is kind of scary for us on the defense,” Fedora said of Stuesser’s ability to run as well as pass. “He is a zone read guy and he like to pull the ball a lot [and run with it].
“He can put it on the board just as quick running the ball and that is one thing we have worked on this week.”
His passing numbers, however, have not been as impressive this season. He is averaging just 131 yards per game, completing 30 of 49 attempts for 524 yards and six touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Knights are allowing an average of 27.4 points per game, but they do boast several solid players including junior defensive back Khalil Gant (29 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery), and defensive lineman Marquise King-Smith (17 tackles, 1 fumble recovery and 1 sack).
Navasota continues to be led offensively by quarterback Kadarius Baker and the receiving duo of Austin Collins and Solomon McGinty.
Baker threw four more touchdown passes in last week’s victory, bringing his season total to 21. Three of those were to Collins who now has 11 for the season. The other touchdown pass was to McGinty who has eight this year.
Baker has completed 92 passes for 1,756 yards. Of his completions, 77 have been to Collins (34) and McGinty (33). The duo has also combined for 1,496 receiving yards.