STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
After a bye week the Navasota Rattlers will look to return to their winning ways when they play host to District 18-3A foe Rockdale on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Rattler Stadium. The game can be heard live on Navasota News 1550 KWBC.
The last time the No. 1-ranked Rattlers (7-0, 1-0) were on the field they started slow, but on the strength of a dominant defensive performance took 38-0 victory over the Madisonville Mustangs.
The game against the Mustangs was the first in which Navasota quarterback Kadarius Baker did not throw for 300 or more yards. Baker, who came in averaging 346.5 yards per game passing, finished with just 153. He also threw two interceptions, matching his total in the first six games.
“I told the kids after the game, no doubt that wasn’t our best night ever on offense this year,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “But if you have an off night and win 38-0 because your defense plays unbelievable [you take it].”
While the passing game struggled, the rushing game had one of its best outputs on the season, gaining 187 yards on 21 carries. Xavier Creeks became the first Rattler running back this season to crack the century mark in a game, gaining 103 yards and scoring a touchdown on 11 carries.
“Our offensive line did a great job of opening holes and he was very patient reading where the hole was going to open,” Fedora said. “It was great to have Xavier pick up the yards.”
The defensive side of the ball, however, was where the Rattlers really upped their game, holding the Mustangs to a mere 70 total yards. The defense also got in on the scoring when Jordan Birdwell forced a fumble that Solomon McGinty scooped up and returned for a touchdown.
The Tigers (4-4, 1-1), meanwhile, bounced back from a 34-28 triple overtime loss to Taylor to open district play, by trouncing Madisonville, 45-13.
“They are a good team,” Fedora said. “When you look at their record it is kind of deceiving because they have had more injuries than anybody in the state of Texas this year. They could have fallen apart after the loss to Taylor but they came back.”
Rockdale is led by quarterback Ethan Brinkley, who has battled injuries this season, but has still managed to complete 88-of-162 passes for 1,290 yards and eight touchdowns. His totals are second in the district to Baker. He has, however, been picked off 10 times.
“He is a kid you have got to be prepared for,” Fedora said. “He is a guy that can throw it around but he will also run it.”
The Tigers also boast a solid run game, averaging 145 yards per game. Elijah Brooks is their top ground-gainer, with 748 yards on 119 carries. He has a district-high 12 rushing touchdowns.
Defensively the Tigers have struggled allowing an average of 375.6 yards per game. Only Caldwell (520.5) allows more yards per game in the district. The Tigers’ rush defense is the worst in the district, allowing 2,051 yards through eight games.