By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Sun
It’s as complicated as you want to make it, or as simple as 1-2-3.
For Jim Gush and his Navarro Bulldogs the wild traffic jam in the conference standings and all the could-be scenarios that could keep you up at night really don’t matter.
“The main thing for us is to concentrate on our team,” said Gush, whose Dawgs are so close to a playoff berth they can taste it.
They’re 3-3 in a conference race that could end up with four teams tied for the final playoff berths, or end simply enough with the Dawgs claiming a playoff spot with a victory at Trinity Valley in next week’s final regular season game and a loss by Kilgore.
That’s simple enough. If Kilgore (3-2) loses one of its final two games (the Rangers play at Blinn Saturday and at home next week against Tyler) and the Dawgs win in Athens next week, Navarro is in the playoffs.
“There are a lot of scenarios,” Gush said. “There could be four teams tied with tiebreakers and even a coin flip. But we have to win, and that’s our focus. That’s his message to his team, and you can bet one thing: The Dawgs will go into Athens with confidence.
They have played some incredible football, and pulled out memorable comeback victories that have defined this team and this season, including last week’s 56-49 overtime thriller against New Mexico Military and an incredible 37-32 comeback against Kilgore last month that saw the Dawgs rally from a 23-0 deficit to pull out the win.
They started the season with a 31-29 victory over nationally-ranked Georgia Military when Jace Ingram kicked a field goal at the gun.
“One thing I really like about this team is I think they have been very resilient,” Gush said. “I’m proud of the way we have come back and many of games have come down to the end. We have a never give up attitude. We came back from 23-0 against Kilgore. Not a lot of teams can come back down by 23. They have stayed the course. No matter what they grind it out and got some wins. I’m proud of what they’ve done, to be able to come back win the way we have.”
It’s that comeback attitude and no-quit that make this Navarro team so special, and it’s that Dawged never-give-up mentality that serves them well as they hit the dramatic stretch run of the season.
The Dawgs have a bye this week and Gush said he will keep up with what Kilgore against Blinn on Saturday, but this week in practice it was all about the Dawgs getting better for their last game next week.
With some luck Navarro could have gone unbeaten in the conference, and Gush pointed to his team’s turnovers and lack of scoring on the road this week and pushed the Dawgs to improve in both in their last game against TVCC.
“We’re undefeated at home,” Gush said. “But we lost some games on the road when we lost the turnover and penalty battles. We have to eliminate self-inflicted wounds. We have to be a disciplined football team. Your concentration and attention to detail have to be at the highest level. We need to get better snap to snap.”
It was a difficult week of practice because of the wet conditions on their practice field, but the Dawgs did get one full practice in at Tiger Stadium.
The mindset is where it needs to be for a team that feels it has a long way to go. It’s simple: Take care of business and worry about Navarro.
“That’s the mindset we have to take,” Gush said. “We have to. That’s the mandate, keep focused and don’t worry about anyone else.
“I asked them the other day, ‘is there anybody in this league we can’t beat?’
Everyone at Navarro knows what the answer was.
That’s where these Dawgs are right now, confident and ready to nail down a playoff spot. And it’s no surprise that this team will have to come back to do it.
(12) Kilgore at (16) Blinn, 3 pm (Homecoming)
(11) NEO A&M at NMMI, 3 pm (Homecoming)
(RV) Cisco at Tyler, 3 pm
Open Dates: Navarro and Trinity Valley