Navarro football finished its 6-3 regular season on Saturday, Oct. 29, wrapping it up with a lopsided win over New Mexico Military Institute and a healthy three-game winning streak.
But, there were no conference playoffs and no bowl games.
Nevertheless, on Monday, Dec. 5, when the NJCAA’s final 2016 football poll was released, coach Cody Crill’s Bulldogs ascended to a position among the nation’s Top 10 teams.
Despite not playing for more than a month, Navarro surfaced Monday at the No. 9 slot.
The final Top 20:
1 Garden City (11-0) defeated Arizona Western 25-22 in the El Toro Bowl
2 East Mississippi (11-1) defeated Kilgore 27-17 in the Mississippi Bowl
3 Arizona Western (11-1) lost to Garden City 25-22 in the El Toro Bowl
4 Trinity Valley (11-1) defeated Northwest Mississippi 34-24 in the Heart Of Texas Bowl
5 Mesa (9-2) defeated Lackawanna 48-42 (2-OT) in the Valley Of The Sun Bowl
6 Northwest Mississippi (9-3) lost to Trinity Valley 34-24 in the Heart Of Texas Bowl
7 Holmes (7-3) defeated Iowa Western in the Graphic Edge Bowl
8 Lackawanna (10-1) lost to Mesa 48-42 (2-OT) in the Valley of The Sun Bowl
9 Navarro (6-3)
10 Northeast Mississippi (6-3)
11 Kilgore (6-5) lost to East Mississippi 27-17 in the Mississippi Bowl
12 Central Lakes (11-1) lost to College of DuPage 25-22 (OT) in the Red Grange Bowl
13 Eastern Arizona (9-3) defeated Butler 39-38 in the Salt City Bowl
14 Georgia Military (9-2)
15 Dodge City (7-4)
16 Highland (7-4)
17 Butler (7-5) lost to Eastern Arizona 39-38 in the Salt City Bowl
18 Snow (6-4)
19 Itawamba (5-4)
20 North Dakota SCS (9-2)
Navarro came in at No. 19 in the October 17 poll after its 52-45 win at Kilgore. A win over Cisco lifted the Bulldogs to No. 16 in the October 24 ranking. The 51-14 win over NMMI pushed them to No. 14 when the final regular season poll came out October 31.
Each November playoff weekend, the Bulldogs inched forward — to No. 13 on November 7, and to No. 11 on November 14 — before bowl bids were issued.
Losses last weekend by No. 2 Arizona Western in the El Toro Bowl, No. 5 Northwest Mississippi in the Heart Of Texas Bowl, No. 6 Central Lakes in the Red Grange Bowl, No. 7 Lackawanna in the Valley of The Sun Bowl, plus No. 10 Snow’s forfeiture of two WSFL regular-season wins enabled Navarro to take advantage of yet another opportunity.