featured_img6

No surprises: Bulldog football expects another big season

By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Daily Sun Sports Editor

LINDALE — It didn’t take long for Navarro football coach Brian Mayper  to deliver his preseason message at the SWJCFC Media Day Thursday.

“No surprises at Navarro,” said Mayper, the first of the seven conference coaches to speak to the media. “We’re running the same stuff. You guys know we’re going to run the ball. And thank God, we’re not changes defenses again this year.”

Mayper’s real message is that life at Navarro is all about winning, and all about a culture that expects to win.

“We expect to win them all. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong business,” Mayper said. “I think our kids expect it, too.”

Sure, you lose a ton of talent every year, but that’s because Navarro brings in so much talent every year. Mayper and his players will open the season at home on Aug. 23 against nationally-ranked Georgia Military with a single purpose — to go unbeaten.

That was the goal last year, but Navarro had a rash of injuries and a few bumps in the road last season, and lost twice in the conference before going on to beat Tyler in the playoffs. The Bulldogs lost a close game to SWJCFC champ Trinity Valley in the playoffs and then ended the season on a high note with a 34-27 win over Hinds (Miss.) in the Brazos Valley Bowl to finish 9-3.

Mayper brings back six offensive and eight defensive starters from that team. Mayper starts the season with a healthy quarterback in Carson Earp, who finished the 2013 season under center, and a new set of running backs who have to fill the shoes of All-American Tim Wright and former Corsicana High star Cameron Washington.

“You don’t replace (Wright), but we will have some very good running backs,” Mayper said. “Keuan Kinner is leading the pack right now. He was the top running back in the Metroplex in high school and Xavier Turner was about the best running back in the state two years ago (in high school). We have a lot of depth at running back and a lot of depth in the slot. Austin Collins is back and Edwin Mims should play a major role this year.”

Having experience and some depth at quarterback should only lift the confidence of a coach and a team that believes in winning.

“Carson Earp does a really solid job,” Mayper said. “And he does a good job running the ball. And (Louisiana-Monroe QB transfer) Bivins Caraway has a real strong arm.”

Mayper pointed out that several of his players are getting recruited and some have already committed to Division I schools.

“I feel really good about our offensive line,” he said. “Maurice Porter (OL) has had a lot of attention and he has committed to Baylor.

“Defensively, we have a lot of guys coming back,” he said. “On the defensive line the guy getting the most attention is Quincy Vasser. He has committed to Georgia. In our secondary, Paul Banks has gotten a lot of attention. He has committed to Houston.”

Mayper said he has a punter coming in from Australia (Ben McIntosh) and he’s thrilled to have kicker Carlos Macias back as his place-kicker.

“Carlos Macias is back,” Mayper said. “He kicked 66 of 67 extra points last year. I feel real good about Carlos, and we’ve got an Australian guy punting for us. I like Australian punters.”

Navarro, which finished 12th in the nation last year, got some early respect from an internet national poll when JCGridwire.rivals.com ranked the Bulldogs No. 5 in the nation. Trinity Valley was ranked No. 10 and Tyler Junior College was ranked No. 25.

Trinity Valley was picked No. 1 in the SWJCFC football coaches preseason football poll and Navarro was No. 2.

TVCC, which won the conference and region titles last year, received four of the seven first-place votes while Navarro received two first-place votes. Tyler, ranked third in the poll, picked up the other first-place vote. Kilgore (fourth), Blinn (fifth), NEO (sixth) and Cisco (seventh) round out the poll. NEO, Cisco and Blinn all have new coaches. Blinn’s new coach is Keith Thomas, who coached at Navarro from 1994 through 1997.

Being ranked second in the SWJCFC poll had no effect on Mayper, who knows it’s all about what happens on the field.

“It doesn’t matter,” Mayper said. “We expect to compete on a national level.”

Nothing changes at Navarro, where the goals and expectations are always the same.

“I feel about the same (this year as I did last year),” Mayper said. “We had pretty high expectations last year and we do again. It’s been a way of life at Navarro.”
2014 SWJCFC Coaches Poll
No.  Team  (1st-Place Votes)………Points
1. Trinity Valley (4)……………………………57
2. Navarro (2)…………………………………..55
3. Tyler (1)……………………………………….49
4. Kilgore…………………………………………47
5. Blinn……………………………………………39
6. NE Oklahoma A&M………………………38
7. Cisco……………………………………………30

Points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4 order for the 7 league teams.