STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
The Navasota Rattlers have a chance to punch their ticket for the 2012 playoffs, and the only thing standing in their way is a familiar foe, the Caldwell Hornets.
The top-ranked Rattlers (8-0, 2-0) will travel to Caldwell and Hornet Stadium for a District 18-3A contest Friday night against a Caldwell team (1-6, 1-1) that has had its ups and down this season. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and the game can be heard live on Navasota News 1550 KWBC.
A victory for the heavily-favored Rattlers would assure them of a spot in the playoffs and would keep their perfect season in tact.
“We always talk about our short-term goals and our goal tonight it to try and be 3-0 [in district] and 9-0 overall,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “Now we can add one more thing, if we get this win we are guaranteed a playoff spot. If you are a high school football player or coach, that is what you shoot for.”
The Rattlers have been flying high this season and so far no one has been able to slow them down. In rolling to an 8-0 record the closest game they have faced was a 36-8 victory over Coldspring in the second week of the season.
Since that game the Rattlers have outscored opponents, 273-35. In their last two contests, both district games, the Rattlers have not allowed a point and have yielded a combined 184 yards. For the season Navasota’s defense has given up just 43 total points, has posted three shutouts and is allowing opponents an average of 169.5 yards per game.
“We are only giving up an average of 5 ½ points per game and as an offensive-minded coach when you go in knowing that your defense is doing that it makes you feel really good,” Fedora said. “Right now our defensive staff is doing a great job and our kids have bought in to everything that we have asked them to do and they are playing great.”
The way the Navasota defense has been playing does not bode well for the Hornets. Offensively Caldwell has had its struggles as it adjusts from a traditionally run-based offense to a passing attack under first-year head coach Kenneth Gilchrist.
“Coach Gilchrist has really done a great job,” Fedora said. “If you look at what they have done from the beginning of the year to now they are miles away. His kids aren’t quitting and they are competing. It is those first year struggles and we are not going to take anyone lightly.”
Caldwell, which has only played seven games this season, has accumulated a total of 2,040 yards of offense, an average of just 291 per game, the lowest average in the district. They have also scored just 157 points, which is also the lowest in the district.
The offense is led by quarterback Brett Gilchrist, the head coach’s son, who as a sophomore has thrown for 1,261 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has completed 88 percent of his passes (128-of-145).
Caldwell’s defense has been porous, allowing 511.1 yards per game. The Hornets have been particularly vulnerable to the run, giving up 2,321 yards on the ground. That should excite Rattler tailback Xavier Creeks, who last week rushed for 195 yards on just 18 carries.
“Xavier is very special,” Fedora said. “What he did most effectively was being patient and letting the block happen. He was outstanding.”
The Rattlers will close out the regular season next Friday when they play host to the Taylor Ducks at Rattler Stadium.