COLORADO SPRINGS, Col. — For the ninth consecutive year and 10th in the last 13, the Navarro Bulldogs are ranked among the Top 20 teams in the NJCAA D-I Preseason Football Poll.
Coach Brian Mayper’s Bulldogs, returning six offensive and eight defensive starters from a 9-3 Brazos Valley Bowl Championship in 2013, were picked Tuesday as the No. 8 team as squads prepare for the season-opening games August 23.
The preseason paper challenge of living up to high regard is one matter, and the schedule the Bulldogs will face from the outset is another. During the first three weeks of the 2014 season, Navarro will face at home the No. 5 ranked Georgia Military Bulldogs and the No. 4 rated Trinity Valley Cardinals.
Coach Bert Williams’ GMC Bulldogs spent most of 2013 ranked No. 1, finished 11-1 overall and lost the NJCAA Championship game 52-32 to East Mississippi in the Mississippi Bowl at Biloxi last December. Meanwhile, TVCC defeated Navarro twice, including a 56-45 decision for the SWJCFC Championship at Athens.
During the course of this season, the Bulldogs have a potentially large game looming against No. 13 Tyler, plus perhaps their three most difficult SWJCFC games on the road — at Kilgore, at Miami, Ok., to face Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, and at Brenham to meet a Blinn team coached by former Navarro player and coach Keith Thomas.
Navarro has been a Top-10 Preseason poll choice the last two seasons and six of the last seven.
The NJCAA poll is topped by East Mississippi, followed by Iowa Western and Copiah-Lincoln CC of Wesson, Ms. Four Mississippi schools grace the Top 10 of the poll and a fifth, Itawamba, ranks 19th from the 14-team MACJC.
NJCAA PRE-SEASON FOOTBALL POLL:
1. East Mississippi
2. Iowa Western
4. Trinity Valley
5. Georgia Military
6. Butler, Ks.
7. ASA, NY
9. Mississippi Gulf Coast
10. Jones County, Ms.
11. Hutchinson, Ks.
12. Arizona Western
13. Tyler JC
14. Nassau, NY
15. Snow, Ut.
16. Scottsdale, Az.
17. Dodge City, Ks.
18. Rochester CTC, Mn.
19. Itawamba CC, Ms.
20. Central Lakes-Brainerd, Mn.