|Posted on 12/6/2018 7:42:00 AM.|
Navarro's Johnny Alegria (12), Bryan Butler (2), and Euler Deleon (44) look to make big plays out of the backfield in tonight's fourth-round playoff game against Cuero. Photo by Andie Rangel.
(San Antonio) - Navarro's 4A Division II Region IV championship game against Cuero, originally scheduled for Friday, has been postponed due to inclement weather. The Panthers and Gobblers will now square off on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Comalander Stadium in San Antonio.
This marks the sixth consecutive season Navarro and Cuero have faced each other in the playoffs , and the seventh overall game between the programs in that span.
The Gobblers are 5-1 against Navarro dating back to 2013, including a 43-7 win for this year's District 13-4A-Division II title five weeks ago. The Panthers' only win in the series came in the 2016 Region IV finals, 35-21, which vaulted Navarro to the 4A Division II state semifinals. Cuero eliminated Navarro in the regional semis last year, 35-21.
The 2018 Panthers are 10-2 in Rod Blount's first season as head coach after advancing through Devine 34-30, Raymondville 35-27, and Rockport-Fulton 28-13 in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
The Gobblers enter Saturday with a 12-1 record and an 11-game winning streak under seventh-year head coach Travis Reeve. Cuero has crushed each of its first three playoff opponents, defeating Pearsall 66-12, Rio Hondo 56-0, and West Oso 59-20.
Cuero held Navarro's powerfult Slot-T attack to 113 total yards in the district meeting on Nov. 2. The Panthers enter Saturday averaging 384.5 yards per game, including 347.3 rushing and 7.0 per carry. Blount believes his offense can come closer to that level of production with cleaner execution in the rematch.
"We've gone over that film a lot over the weekend, and things weren't too far off," Blount said. "We look at a block there, a kid taking a good first step here, putting his hands where he's supposed to be. So it's not too far off, and we can change up things a little but, but we've been playing good football, the kids have been working hard, the offensive line's been taking care of business, so we're going to do what we do, continue and hope to see success."
Navarro's individual offensive leaders include tailback Johnny Alegria (1,274 rushing yds., 10.8 per carry, 15 TD), fullback Euler DeLeon (1,171 yds., 17 TD), and quarterback Bryan Butler (699 rushing yds., 9 TD, 390 passing yds., 5 TD). Butler has emerged as an explosive threat in the playoffs, running for 339 yards and six touchdowns on 24 carries (14.1 avg.) over the past three games.
Defending Cuero's dynamic offense presents another set of challenges for the Panthers. The Gobblers feature two 1,000-yard rushers in Chance Albrecht (1,367 yds., 28 TD) and Keiran Grant (1,197 yds., 22 TD), a 70-percent passer in Michael Barta (1,901 yds., 24 TD), and a versatile receiving and running threat in Texas commit Jordan Whittington (821 receiving yds., 12 TD, 362 rushing yds., 5 TD).
The Gobblers did the bulk of their damage on the ground against Navarro in the regular season, rushing for 277 yards on 32 carries. Grant totaled 135 yards and two touchdowns, Albrecht ran for 68 yards and two scores, and Whittington carried the ball four times for 73 yards and a touchdown.
"It's tough because they do have a lot of guys who can make plays, and they have a lot of big playmakers, so we've got to take care of all of them," Blount said. "Whittington's the key. They're going to throw the ball to him, he's going to get in the backfield, line up at quarterback, and take off running with it, so we've got to know where he is every play. But we've got to play good solid defense all the way across, because they can hurt you anywhere."
Navarro's defense turned in its best performance of the playoffs against Rockport-Fulton, allowing 259 total yards while forcing two turnovers. Butler and Sergio Sanchez each came up with interceptions.
Saturday's kickoff at Comalander Stadium is set for 6 p.m. The game will air live on KWED 1580 AM and Seguintoday.com, with pre-game coverage at 5:30.