STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
Since ascending to the top of the Class 3A rankings the Navasota Rattlers have heard one opponent after another claim they would find a way to knock them from their perch and shut down the Rattlers high-flying offense.
Week after week those claims have been heard and discarded, as week after week teams have given it their best shot and have failed.
Navasota has continued to pile up the offensive numbers, while limiting opponents’ offensive outputs and now the Rattlers find themselves one victory away from advancing to next week’s state championship game.
Before the Rattlers can focus on the title game, however, they have to concern themselves with a semifinal date against a Bellville Brahmas team that is the next in line to attempt to do what others before them have failed to do.
The Rattlers (14-0) and the Brahmas (11-3) will face off Friday night at 7 at Waller ISD Stadium. The game can be heard live on Navasota News 1550 KWBC with the pregame slated to begin at 6:27 p.m.
Navasota comes in after another impressive victory, this time over a previously undefeated West Orange Stark team that had given up just 42 points in its previous 13 games.
The Rattlers started quickly, scoring in just three plays, on their way to a 38-7 victory that earned them the Region 3 title and moved them closer to the Class 3A Division II state championship game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
“We knew it was going to be an outstanding game,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said of the clash with West Orange Stark. “Our kids came out and they were fired up and you only had to look into the stands [to see why]. I got an email from Humble saying there was over 11,000 people at our game and I guarantee you probably 8,000 of them were our people. Our kids were motivated and came out on fire.”
The Rattler defense had a huge hand in the victory over West Orange Stark, recording five turnovers, including interceptions from Dustin Savensky, Lamarquis Jefferson and Austin Collins, who returned his for a touchdown.
Collins also added three offensive touchdowns, catching two touchdown passes, and running for another out of the wildcat formation, where he blew by the West Orange Stark defense making them look like they were standing still.
“There is no doubt he has speed,” Fedora said. “Watching it on film in slow motion, he still looked like he was full speed. He just blew by their defenders and turned it on. That is the kind of athlete his is.”
The Brahmas, meanwhile, are coming off their second consecutive shutout of the postseason, blanking Port Isabel, 22-0 to punch their ticket for Friday’s game. Their other playoff victories have come against Orange Grove (42-0), Wimberley (21-7) and Cuero (34-13).
“The one thing you know about Bellville is they are going to play and they are going to get after you,” Fedora said. “We know this is going to be a battle.”
Bellville’s offense runs out of the Slot T, and is led by quarterback Kyle Fuchs and running backs LaKieath Nunn and Bronson Allen, who have accounted for 3,341 combined rushing and passing yards, which is 70 percent of the Brahmas’ offensive output this season.
Fuchs has thrown for 1,033 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushed for another 388 yards and six touchdowns. Nunn has rushed for 1,039 yards with a team-high 13 touchdowns, while Allen adds 881 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
“They are more run oriented, but if you get caught up in the running game, all of the sudden they hit you on a big pass,” Fedora said. “They have athletes that if you don’t wrap up and tackle they will break plays and make big plays.”
Defensively the Brahmas have recorded four shutouts and limit foes to an average of 248.2 yards and 12.9 points per game. The biggest number that sticks out for the Brahmas’ defense is the number of interceptions recorded — 26.
“They fly around and they break on the ball and do a great job,” Fedora said. “A lot of it [interception total] goes to the fact that they get pressure on the quarterback. Anytime you have that many interceptions, that is impressive.”