Navarre’s Raiders will host the Milton Panthers at 7 p.m. tonight at Bennett C. Russell Stadium in a dress rehearsal for the 2012 high school football season.
The preseason “kickoff classic” is one of several being played around Northwest Florida this weekend. The scrimmages let players test their skills against someone other than their teammates and give coaches a chance to assess their teams’ strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s real competition, and you want to see who will rise to the competition,” first-year Navarre head coach Jay Walls said in published reports. “Some guys get stuck in that practice mode, and the game is kind of a shock to them. We want to see how our guys will respond.”
The Raiders return starters at 11 positions, five on offense and six on defense, from a team that finished 5-5 last season. The Panthers were 4-6.
The teams feature some of the area’s top talent, especially catching the ball. Navarre senior Jordan Leggett, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior tight end/receiver, caught 41 passes for 566 yards and four touchdowns in 2011. He has committed verbally to play football at Clemson, but has received interest from several NCAA Division I programs – including an official offer from new Southeastern Conference member Missouri.
Milton features two receivers with verbal commitments to D-I schools: Isaiah Jones (Florida State) and Pensacola-Washington transfer Dejon Funderburk (South Alabama).