If Navarre was the dream job for Jay Walls, then how do you summarize the dream season the Raiders have going under their first-year head coach?
Following Friday night's 28-14 win against Gulf Breeze -- the sixth straight for the Raiders in the Beach Bowl Cup rivalry -- just look at what Walls' team has accomplished:
* A school-record 9-1 mark in the regular season.
* Winner of the District 2-6A title.
* Unbeaten at home in Bennett C. Russell Stadium for the first time in a regular season.
* Next up: Pace in the Region 1-6A semifinals.
"It was great to win a rivalry game like this," said Navarre receiver Gatlin Casey, who caught touchdown passes of 68 and 55 yards against Gulf Breeze. "And we're 9-1 and really looking forward to getting ready to play Pace next week. This couldn't be better right now."
The showdown with the Patriots is one of the marquee matchups in the first round of the playoffs. In Week 3 of the season, Casey ran 8 yards for the winning touchdown midway through the fourth quarter as Navarre nipped Pace, 19-13.
Of course, the Raiders won't be able to open that game with the five turnovers they committed during their seven first-half possessions against Gulf Breeze.
"I'll tell you what, if we make mistakes like that against Pace, we'll be in trouble," Walls said. "But we're excited about the opportunity. It's the playoffs, it's a new season and it's wide open. We're just ready to play, to be honest with you."
At full strength
The biggest surprise Friday before kickoff was seeing Navarre's starting quarterback Andrew Rieves and star receiver Jordan Leggett in street clothes.
The first thought was Navarre sat the two players to avoid injury prior to the playoffs. However, it turns out that both players were recovering from separate medical issues.
Rieves was knocked out late from the Mosley game on Nov. 2 with an apparent leg injury. Leggett suffered a possible concussion that same night.
"Andrew was probably 100 percent (Friday), but all week long -- and especially Monday and Tuesday -- he was really struggling. So he was injured and out, and that made sense to do that to me," Walls said. "Jordan may have had a slight concussion last week and we had to go through the procedures and protocols they have for concussions now ... but he's fine.
"We'll be back in action next week with everybody. We'll be ready for Pace."
Casey took over the lead receiver spot and exploded for three catches that covered 145 yards, including two long scoring grabs.
In his first varsity appearance, Webb had a big night at quarterback, completing 9-of-16 passes for 180 yards and the two TD strikes to Casey.
Navarre's offense did plenty to put its defense in several tough situations against Gulf Breeze, turning the ball over five times in the first half. That included fumbles that ended the Raiders' first four possessions.
But the numbers tell the story of a dominant night.
Gulf Breeze -- which beat District 1-6A champion Milton earlier in the season -- managed just 173 yards of offense in the game. Take away a late 77-yard touchdown catch by Xan Sarra and the Dolphins ran 50 plays for only 96 yards.
Dolphins quarterback Andy Creech, who had 137 yards rushing and 150 yards passing against Milton, was held to only 57 yards of total offense (4 yards on 7 carries, 7-of-22 passing for 53 yards).
Gulf Breeze was never in the running to pull off the rare sweep of both area Class 6A district champions.
"I was very proud of our defense. They kept playing and didn't get discouraged with the way the offense was turning the ball over in that first half," Walls said. "We turned it around in the second half, made some big plays on offense, but our defense was the key to being in that position."
In the second half, Navarre forced two turnovers on interceptions by Nick Benton and Mason Mikul, plus stopped Gulf Breeze on three fourth-down plays.
Baker growing up
West Florida High coach Harry Lees has been happy with the maturation of quarterback Joey Baker this season.
The signal caller was nearly flawless on Friday night at Northview, throwing for three scores and running for three more.
But it was the one flaw during the game that Less hopes Baker corrects during the playoffs.
Baker forced a pass during the third quarter against the Chiefs that turned into an interception in the end zone. Lees wants his quarterback to understand sometimes it's best to live to play another down.
"I'd rather take a sack, throw it into the sideline or run for five yards," Lees said. "I'd rather do anything other than throw an interception."