STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
The Navasota Rattlers have rolled through the non-district portion of their schedule and Friday night they look to continue their run toward the playoffs when they open play in District 18-3A.
The Rattles will start the district season on the road, traveling to Madisonville to take on the Mustangs in the 18-3A opener for both teams. The came will be broadcast live on Navasota News 1550 KWBC. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Navasota, which is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, is 6-0 on the season after defeating Class 4A Austin McCallum 57-9 last week. The Rattlers broke the game open with 27 first-quarter points and never looked back.
“I was pleased with the way our kids came out and got after it,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “We scored our first eight possessions and I thought our defense played really well.”
The Mustangs, meanwhile, are sporting a 4-2 record after running off three straight victories, the last a 61-6 blowout of Hunnington.
Madisonville has built its winning streak on the strength of its running game, which is averaging 245.8 yards per game on the ground.
Junior tailback Dontae Crist has been leading the rushing attack, carrying the ball 127 times for 859 yards (6.8 per carry) and cashing in with a team-high eight touchdowns.
Crist isn’t the only rushing threat, however, with junior Grant Smith gaining 336 yards and scoring four touchdowns in 38 carries and sophomore quarterback Tyji Whaley adding 88 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.
“They are a run team and they are going to get in there and run inside and run the power sweep and things like that,” Fedora said.
Whaley was forced into action when junior quarterback Caleb Peveto suffered a season-ending injury. Whaley has been solid as the replacement and has thrown for 313 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception.
“He is a kid that is only a sophomore and he is getting better and better each week,” Fedora said. “I think he has done a great job and a tremendous job leading their team.”
Whaley will present a challenge for a Navasota defense that has been nothing short of spectacular, allowing an average of 7.2 points and 192 yards per game.
Defensively the Madisonville secondary has been solid as the team has an eye opening 13 interceptions. Defensive backs Alex Green and Brent McCloud each have four on the season with fellow defensive back Smith adding two.
As a unit, the Mustang defense is tops in the district in terms of yards allowed, yielding just 161 yards per game.
While the defensive numbers are impressive, the Mustangs will face an offense that has yet to be slowed down. Navasota boasts one of the top offensive trios in the state in quarterback Kadarius Baker and receivers Solomon McGinty and Austin Collins.
Baker has been sensational this season, completing 104 of his 161 pass attempts (65 percent) for 2,079 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has thrown just two interceptions, none since the second game of the season.
McGinty and Collins have gone back and forth this season as the leader in receptions, but they are both averaging 22.9 yards per catch. McGinty has 38 receptions for 872 yards, while Collins checks in with 36 for 823.
Collins leads the team in touchdown receptions with 12, while McGinty is right behind with 10.