Upset of No. 8 Navarro could be big

JEREMY GARZA
Staff Writer

The KC Rangers are 3-0 and sit at the No. 10 spot in the new NJCAA National Poll.

KC puts its unbeaten record on the line 7 p.m. Saturday hosting Navarro at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium. The game will be aired on KXAL 105.3 FM and be streamed online at www.kxal.org.

The three wins by the Rangers, including back-to-back road wins over nationally-ranked teams, already match last year’s win total when KC finished 3-6.

A  lot of new things have happened in three weeks of football. It is the Rangers’ first time to win the season opener under head coach J.J. Eckert, the first time the Rangers have gone 3-0 under Eckert and the first time KC has been in the top 20 spot in the national poll since 2008.

Teams in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference have earned three national championships in six years, with Trinity Valley, Blinn and Navarro all winning titles in that span. All three of these teams have spent time this season  ranked in the top 10 nationally, but Blinn and TVCC have already played their way out of the poll.

Unbeaten Navarro this week has earned its share of wins, landing the No. 8 spot.

The biggest surprise has been KC.

The Rangers started the season by getting no love, even in their own conference, when the Rangers were picked to finish sixth (out of seven teams) in the league during SWJCFC media day.

“We realize what lies ahead, and in this conference it’s almost like a horse race,” Eckert said. “It’s not one of those races that is a 100- meter race. This a long duration and we’re just now hitting a turn.”

It seems like the Rangers can’t catch a breather as they host Navarro this Saturday. Like other teams in the conference, Navarro has put up big scoring numbers,winning 40-0, 54-34 and 56-14.

Navarro’s rushing game has been dominant, averaging  368  yards per game and finding the end zone 13 times.

Last year Navarro earned a 22-17 win over KC.

It should be a great battle for KC’s defense, which is allowing just 39.7 rushing yards per game this season. Linebacker James Jones and defensive end Cooper Washington have had huge games for the Rangers, and both have received SWJCFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

If KC can get another upset this week, the Rangers will be setting themselves up to win the conference and also set a path to contend for a national title.

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