By ROB LUDWIG / Special To The Corsicana Daily Sun
CISCO — Pay mild attention to the No. 2 ranking for now if you are a Navarro football fan. Bulldog Coach Brian Mayper knows full well the trepidations the SWJCFC schedule offers over the final seven weeks of the regular season.
All pre-conference results and national plaudits will have to be shoved aside starting Thursday when the Bulldogs visit Cisco at 7:30 p.m. to open the SWJCFC ledger.
“They don’t give us Ws because of our rankings,” Mayper said. “You’ve got to earn every last victory in this conference.
“Look at us last year. We did a really good job at the end of the year, but we let a couple of games get away from us in the middle of the season. I’ve got a couple of examples to use as reminders of how we need to go about our business.”
You can bet he’s already brought up both regular-season losses from 2012 as his team prepares for the annually pesky Wranglers.
“We talk to our players about being humble,” Mayper said. “They cannot be satisfied with what they’ve already done. We stress focusing on ourselves, not on what anybody else is doing in the conference. If we do what we can do, we’re not going to have to worry about anybody else.”
That does not mean the Bulldogs won’t be wary of Cisco, a team they led 28-14 at the half before scoring 28 straight points in the final 30 minutes in last year’s game in Corsicana. Navarro was caught off guard by a reverse pass on the opening play, setting up the game’s first touchdown.
Navarro quickly righted itself, ripping the Wranglers for 658 yards.
Cisco showed a little firepower in a season-opening 38-21 loss to Garden City, gaining 373 yards. But three turnovers, combined by woeful 33 percent passing (14 of 42), prevented the Wranglers from mustering much of a challenge to Garden City.
Quarterback Jacorey McQueen, a talented dual threat transfer from Midwestern State, was only 5 of 24 for 157 yards and two scores against Garden City.
Sophomore Jared Mapps is the most talented of the receiving corps, catching a 73-yarder from McQueen and averaging 42.3 yards on three receptions.
“(Cisco) is very similar to us offensively,” Mayper said. “They are going to try to work with a fast tempo and maybe spread it out a little more than we do. Defensively, they pretty much mirror what we do as well, so they’re No. 1s will be going against each other all week.
“And I wouldn’t be surprised to see them open up with a gimmick play of some sort like last year. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.”
Based on how the Bulldogs defeated No. 6 Hutchinson (41-16) two weeks ago, there probably aren’t too many things they cannot handle.
After giving up the final 10 points of the first half to allow Hutchinson to close within 28-16, the Bulldog defense went into shutdown mode. Spurred by the sterling play of Waco Midway freshman linebacker Chrishard Buhl, Navarro’s defense shut down a potent Hutchinson offense.
“I went in at halftime and told them, ‘you have to shut them out in the second half,’ and I was extremely pleased with the way they played,” Mayper said.
“(Buhl) is really a smart kid and a disciplined player. You don’t have ask him or tell him anything twice and you can go into more depth with him about what you are trying to do on defense.”
Mayper has seen the same thing in uber-efficient quarterback Josh Greer, who has completed 63 percent of his passes and managed a run-heavy start to the season.
“Josh is one of the best quarterbacks in the conference,” he said. “I’d argue that he’s the most disciplined quarterback in the conference. He’s smart, knows our offense and he’s going to continue to be a major part of our offense moving forward this season.”
That’s not something the rest of the league wants to hear.
Navarro at Cisco
Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
RECORDS: 2nd-ranked Navarro (2-0) and Cisco (0-1)
RECENT HISTORY: Cisco jumped to a 7-0 lead, but Navarro rolled to a 56-14 win at Tiger Stadium last season.
KEY PLAYERS: Navarro: OL Carter Wall, QB Josh Greer, RB Tim Wright, RB Cameron Washington, LB Dominic Kelly, WR Markel Steward-Gillespie, OL Tim Hines, DE Desmond Owino, DL Kerry Holiday, DL John Williams, CB Sherman Gilbert, S Aaron Shaw, S Alex Miller, CB KeUntis Thompson, LB Chrishard Buhl, WR Devin Lauderdale, WR Austin Collins. Cisco: WR Jared Mapps, QB Jonathan Bowen, QB Jacorey McQueen, P Felipe Para, KOR Marquis Elder.
GAME NOTES: Cisco floundered in its opener to Garden City (37-21) thanks to poor execution and 3 turnovers . . . QB McQueen has the capability to be a dual threat, but he was limited to 5 of 24 passing in the opener, forcing coach Scott Taylor to shift to backup Jonathan Bowen (7-15-1-81). McQueen also averaged 5.7 yards on six attempts . . . WR Mapps is familiar with the Bulldog secondary, having had a hand in a trick play to open last season’s game … Mapps was at it again against Garden City, averaging 42.3 yards on 3 catches, including a 73-yarder for a touchdown . . . Navarro should be at full strength this week on offense, save for RB Tarlandus Mitchell, who may be held out because of a hamstring strain against Hutchinson . . . Navarro could test the air more this week after not having a major need to tax quarterback Greer in the first two games. The 6-4 transfer has been excellent in practice throughout the fall campaign and is “the most disciplined quarterback in the conference,” according to Coach Brian Mayper . . . There has not been a more devastating rushing twosome in the conference so far in 2013 than Wright and Washington, who have a combined 446 yards and 8 TDs. Wright and Tyler WR Joshua Reynolds lead the conference with 5 TDs apiece . . . Kelly is tied for third in the conference with 16 tackles . . . Navarro enters the game averaging 532 yards per game, compared to 373 for Cisco. Cisco is yielding 293 yards after one game, 25 yards better than the Bulldogs.
— Rob Ludwig