NAVARRE — Torrential downpour and flood warnings did not affect a prime opportunity for Navarre football coaches and players to make themselves better.
As harsh weather hit the Emerald Coast this past Friday, the Raiders worked in full pads and sneakers on X’s and O’s and conditioning inside the school’s gymnasium.
“The guys have been working really hard (this spring),” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “Just trying to get better, trying to always be relentless and play hard. That’s kind of our identity.”
Said Raiders’ quarterback Sage Chambers, “I’m glad to be getting back into the groove of things. I’m glad to see new faces and glad to see all the guys working.”
Coming off a state semifinal loss to Lake Gibson, the spring period for the Raiders has been about evaluating where the current roster stands and how to best utilize the team’s talent.
Chambers, a rising senior, said the team’s biggest goal this offseason is finding who’s going to lead.
The team lost what Walls called a “really strong” senior class — including North Carolina running back Michael Carter, Auburn offensive lineman Nick Brahms and linebackers Xavier Fernandez and Bo Hering — and therefore it has some holes to fill.
At running back, the Raiders will try to make up for the loss of Carter — who rushed for 2,536 yards this past season — with the combination of Omari Green, Chris Williams and Darnell Deas.
Receiver Dante Wright, a rising junior, returns, as do rising senior Bryson Brewer and rising sophomore Mi’Quel Howard. Rising senior Sam Register, who torn his ACL in a state semifinal, hopes to return in July.
Wright, who caught 35 passes for a team-high 740 yards during the regular season, said he’s excited about the opportunity to get more touches.
With Caine Adamson lost to graduation, the Raiders will turn to Chambers, who played in six games last season and completed 23 of 41 passes for 417 yards and one touchdown.
“He looks really, really good throwing the football,” Walls said. “He knows the offense.”
DEFENSIVE POY CARTER MOVES TO LINEBACKER
Daily News Large Schools Defensive Player of the Year Josh Carter has been moved from defensive tackle to linebacker. The 5-foot-10, 245-pounder played the position throughout youth football but was made a defensive lineman when he entered high school.
For the rising junior, the “new” position is all about making plays. It’s about hunting the ball like he did during his youth days.
“It’s been a good transition,” he said. “I think being at linebacker helps me oversee everything. I’ve always been able to look around and see what’s going on out there on the field. Just observing and picking up on my surroundings.
“I feel confident.”
Walls said Carter has looked good at linebacker, but still has a lot of work to do.
“We feel like he’s athletic enough,” the coach said. “He’s a football player and he’s done a great job for us on the D-line the last two years, and we think (linebacker) will be a good fit for him.
“He’s got a lot of football savvy and makes plays. I think he’ll be fine.”
EMPHASIS ON 50/50 SPLIT
With star running back Michael Carter, Josh’s older brother, having been lost to graduation, the Raiders should throw the ball a bit more often this coming season. After all, the Raiders ran the ball 521 times this past season compared to just 243 throws.
“We still always work to be balanced,” the coach said. “We want to run the football, we want to throw the football and not be one dimensional. If we’re having success running the ball we’ll do that. If we need to throw, we want to have that ability.”
Said Chambers, “We just have to all pick it up and do our jobs. It’s not one guy who makes a team. It’s a team effort. Yes, we’re going to be throwing the ball a little bit more and I’m excited about it, but we still have got to have the run game. The run game is still going to be a big key.”
BAGLEY HELPS CONDITIONING
About a third of the Raiders practice on Friday was spent on conditioning. Garrett Bagley, the Raiders’ linebackers coach and special teams coordinator, put the team through a variety of drills that didn’t include footballs.
The coach had the Raiders run several drills in which they worked on changing direction, backpedalling and start and stop speed.