Editor’s Note: This is the first of a four-part series wrapping up the 2018-19 seasons for the four schools in our coverage area; Navarro, Seguin, Marion and Lifegate Christian School.
It wasn’t a bad first year for Navarro’s new football coach and athletic director, Rod Blount.
In fact, you could say it was outstanding.
Besides the football team making it to the fourth round of the 4A state playoffs and finishing 10-3 overall, Navarro had numerous other teams and individual athletes advance deep into the playoffs.
“We have hard-working kids here,” Blount said on Wednesday. “They are expected to win, they’re willing to work and do what it takes to win, and they play really good as a team.
“It’s the work ethic and the camaraderie within the kids, everybody picks each other up — and I think that’s what makes us special.”
The Panthers have established a winning tradition within the football program, in a sport that is usually very cyclical on the high school level.
A team wins with a group of athletes, those athletes graduate, and the rebuilding process takes a couple of years before the team starts to win again.
But not at Navarro, which has had seven straight 10-win seasons, almost unheard of in the high school football world.
Last season’s group was young, but had several players step up and fill roles that propelled them to the playoffs.
“We had a solid year,” Blount said. “We made it to the fourth round, beat Devine in bi-district, Raymondville in area and Rockport before falling to Cuero in the state quarterfinals.”
Cuero accounted for two of the Panthers three losses last season, and would go on to win the 4A D2 state championship.
Junior running backs Johnny Alegria and Euler DeLeon each had over 1,000 yards rushing, and both return next year.
Senior Bryan Butler took over the quarterback position for his first season as a starter and excelled in the postseason.
“He really stepped up and had a great playoffs, led us in rushing through the playoffs and had some really big games,” Blount said.
The potent rushing attack ran behind a solid offensive line, led by tackles Brett Butler and Abron Ortiz.
Senior defensive end Rawson Young, and Austin Jonas, who moved to inside linebacker the fourth game of the season, along with sophomore defensive back Jean “Mo” Sims, anchored a stingy defense.
“Jonas did a great job (after moving to inside linebacker) and really started making plays all over the field,” Blount said.
The Panthers expect to have another good season this fall, with several returnees on both sides of the ball.
Other teams, athletes
The Panthers volleyball team made it to regionals after finishing second in District 30-4A, falling in the first round.
Also last fall, the cross country team qualified for the regional meet and had two runners, Bryce Carter and Ivy Kohl, qualify for state.
During the winter season, the Lady Panthers basketball team finished fourth in district and made the playoffs, and four powerlifters; Sergio Hernandez, Chris Velazquez, Jillyanna Avalos and Kayla DeLeon made the state tournament.
This spring, teams and players from all four sports got to the playoffs.
On the tennis court, the Panthers earned district championships in girls and boys doubles, boys singles and the Panthers won the boys district team championship.
Baylee Parrott and Haley Hoffmann won girls doubles, Tommy Butrym took boys singles and Zach Hoffman and Henry Bradley won the doubles title.
“Both teams and our boys singles won their first match at regionals and lost in the second round,” Blount said.
On the golf course, Maddie Reyes made the state tournament in just her sophomore season, where she finished tied for 11th on Tuesday.
“She’s a great kid, works hard and really puts in the time trying to improve,” Blount said. “To make it to the state tournament is awesome, and to compete at the level she did, to finish 11th in the state as a sophomore, is very impressive.”
The Panthers boys team qualified for the regional meet after placing at the district tournament.
In track, both the boys and girls teams got several athletes to the regional track meet after placing second and third at the area meet.
The Panthers baseball team finished third in District 30-4A with a 6-4 mark and headed into the playoffs at 19-11 overall.
They won bi-district before being eliminated in the area playoff last week by Robstown.
The Lady Panthers softball team has been rolling through the playoffs, beating Zapata in the regional quarterfinals last week, 14-0 and 8-4 to advance to play Boerne in the regional semis.
Navarro cruised through district play with a 12-0 mark, and are 32-8 overall. It is the farthest the softball team has ever been in the state playoffs.
“They’ve had a really good spring and have played great all season,” Blount said. “The lineup is strong all the way through.
“Each week they’ve had another girl step up and get the big hit, producing some big runs, and they’ve played really good team softball.
“It’s been a solid year for us all the way through and we’re excited to see where the softball team ends up.”
Game one of that series was last night in Dripping Springs. Look for the story in Friday’s Seguin Gazette.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.