In last week’s game at Niceville, Michael Carter touched the ball three times in the first half for Navarre. He scored on two of those touches, both catch-and-run passes from from Mathew Webb. His 55-yard TD play enabled Navarre to tie the game with 45 seconds left in the first half.
But Carter was not 100 percent. After a fourth-and-1 play where he was stopped for no gain with 5:40 left in the third quarter, Carter did not play again.
“On that fourth down when we went for it, ran the (isolation play) and he came out of there kind of gimped up,” Navarre coach Jay Walls said. “He’s going to be fine. But we decided that he needed to come off the field. He wasn’t 100 percent. He was willing to go back out there, but we wanted to get him off the field.”
Despite the loss breaking an unbeaten record, the Raiders didn’t lose anything in their quest for the District 2-6A title. They face Choctaw on Friday in a game that could determine the district champ.
“Next week is the biggest game of the year for us against Choctaw,” Walls said. “They are a very good team. We have to go over there. It’s going to be tough. So we can’t let Niceville beat us twice.
“Our kids, they never quit. We had a good week (for Niceville). They came in and were prepared and we had a shot, but we just came up short.”
Ranking the units
With a couple of district games under their belts in Districts 1-6A and 1-5A, let’s take a look at what we think are the top units in each district heading into another big week of showdowns in each district.
District 1-6A Offense
Running game — Pace: The Patriots have relied heavily on the run all season. Both in their 0-3 start, and throughout their four-game win streak. Quaide Weimerskirch’s numbers jump off the page (184 carries, 1424 yards, 18 TDs) while Anthony Johnson Jr. has made great use of his 87 carries, picking up 467 yards for six TDs.
Passing game — PHS: The Tigers have used their air attack to pick up both of their wins and keep them in some close games. QB Slade Jarman (83-161-4, 1331 yards, 13 TDs) has been pivotal in his teams success this year. Roy Albritton has led PHS’ pass protection throughout seven weeks, giving Jarman time to connect with WR Eddie Shoots (18 receptions, 381 yards and four TDs).
District 1-6A Defense
Front 7 — Pine Forest: Not only are the Eagles the speediest Front 7 in District 1-6A, they are also one of the younger units. Sophomore linebacker Deaurius Howard leads the area with 99 tackles and has added four sacks on the season. Senior Oliva Wright has called the shots for the Eagles, and has made 72 tackles. The Eagles D-Line has gotten off the ball quickly and pressured QBs all season, including a three-interception game for the area’s leading passer, Z’Khari Blocker of Catholic. John Cooper, Trevon Anderson and Lavord Wiggins Jr. have combined for 12 sacks.
Secondary — Escambia: The Gators have made throwing the ball a real nightmare for opposing offenses in 2014.
The team has helped hold opponents to 10.0 points per game, while frequently setting up the offense with good field position all season.
In District 1-6A play, the Gators’ ‘D’ has still managed to hold opponents scoring averages to 9.5 points per game. In contrast, the Gators gave up 30.4 points per game last season and 22.2 per game in district.
The Gators have made nine interceptions, forced nine fumbles and scored four TDs through six games.
DBs Logan Walden and Dajonti Donaldson have combined for five picks to solidify Escambia’s “No Fly Zone.”
District 1-5A Offense
Passing game — Catholic: Sophomore QB Z’Khari Blocker went into last Friday’s game at Milton leading the area in passing, and left the game with his 19th passing TD of the year.
The youngster has had a talented receiving corps help him along the way, with seniors Quan Moorer, Antwain Adams and Daniel Byrd all top 10 receivers in the area.
The trio has accounted for 19 scores on the season and more 1200 yards.
Running game — Gulf Breeze: Josh Irby has made several explosive plays when his team has been hurting for production this year. The PNJ Super Senior has rushed for 10 TDs and more than 700 yards this season to help set up the Dolphin’s pass-first offense.
District 1-5A Defense
Front 7 — Catholic: The Crusaders have played well against District 1-5A opponents, and have really stepped up against District 1-6A (Pine Forest, PHS).
Defensive linemen Antoine Barker and Felix Gray have combined for 10 sacks and more than 100 tackles this year.
Linebackers Khaifa Peabody and Darrien Brown have led the linebackers, and have also combined for more than 100 tackles in 2014.
Secondary — West Florida: West Florida (5-1) has heavily relied on its defense to remain unbeaten in District 1-5A.
DBs Dakota Milstead and Tino Espinoza have played a big part, as both seniors are tied with three interceptions.
Adarius Purifoy has made countless contributions on offense, but has also spent time at corner locking down receivers and has made over 40 tackles.