Demarcus Lee still has a picture of the 2008 Navasota eighth grade football team. So confident in their future, they signed it.
“We went undefeated our eighth grade year, and after the last game we took a team picture. We wrote on it: 2013 State Champs,” Lee, now a senior, told The Examiner after last Friday’s 24-7 win over Bellville that put the Rattlers into the state championship game for the first time since 1988. His reference was to the Class of 2013.
Lee didn’t chat long as he and all of his Rattler teammates wanted to stay on the field and celebrate their semifinal win with each other, their coaches and the fans.
Navasota (15-0), ranked No. 1 in the state, will face Gilmer (14-1) this Friday at 4 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington for the Class 3A Division II State Championship. Navasota seeks its first football state championship in school history.
The Rattlers will be the designated visiting team this week – the first time they will have worn their white uniforms since their 58-0 win at Caldwell on Nov. 2.
The seniors have banded together and taken it upon themselves to lead this team to a state championship.
“When we were in junior high looking up to the older guys on varsity, we said we’re going to state,” wide receiver Solomon McGinty said. “Our junior year we stopped in the third round with Chapel Hill, but we had that game. But we accomplished our dream this year. We kept going one game at a time and we got a good coach like coach Fedora who makes us focus on one game and now we’re accomplishing our goal. I’m glad our dream is becoming a reality.”
The reality began after last year’s state quarterfinal loss to Chapel Hill. Navasota came from behind to take a lead during the fourth quarter, only to see the Bulldogs rally to win it, 56-46, and go on to win a state championship. It was the fifth straight quarterfinal loss for the Rattlers.
Then there was 7-on-7 last summer. The only team to beat Navasota in tournament play was a come-from-behind win by Katy. Then, the Rattlers felt they should have won state in 7-on-7, but that bad officiating cost them a loss to Celina in the state semifinals.
“They called offensive pass interference on me when I scored a touchdown and it got called back,” McGinty said last summer. “He pushed off on me.”
These seniors have had each other’s backs since junior high and they keep pushing each other. And they’re ready to finish things off together.
“It means the world to us,” senior linebacker Jaylyin Minor said. “We’re going to suit up one last time with our classmates and we’re going to leave it all out on the field and do the best we can do.”
Jordan Birdwell echoed those thoughts.
“It’s amazing. You can’t explain it. You got tears running down your eyes and don’t know what to do
“It means a lot. To finish it with my teammates and my family,” Birdwell said. “It means a lot.”
Austin Collins, who has scored five touchdowns over the last two games, said it means a great deal to the group.
“I know how hard this group has worked,” Collins said. “To see it succeed and for us to go to Dallas Cowboys Stadium it means a lot.”