SETH STRINGER @SethSnwfdn

NAVARRE — Jay Walls watched a lot of preseason prep football last week.

After cruising to a 28-0 win over Chiles at Bennett C. Russell Stadium last Thursday, the Navarre head coach and his staff hit the road a night later to scout Pensacola Catholic’s kickoff classic against Escambia.

What did he see from Friday night’s visitor to Bennett C. Russell Stadium?

For starters, the Crusaders have improved from last year’s 41-13 loss to the Raiders. The season before they lost 57-14 to the Raiders, who are 3-0 against Catholic since 2014.

“The last few years they’ve been a little young, so this year they have a lot of returning players and they’ve improved greatly,” Walls said. “Their quarterback has a lot of confidence, their running back (Abram) Smiley is one of the best in the area and they have confidence on the O-line. I thought they looked good up front, were very athletic and had good team speed.”

Garrett Foley is the gunslinger Walls referenced. He’s coming off a campaign where he aired it out for 2,223 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Navarre has a gunslinger itself in senior Sage Chambers, who impressed in the kickoff classic with a 49-yard touchdown toss to Dante Wright on night’s opening play.

“Sage knows the offense, he has experience and we’re confident in his abilities,” Walls said.

Running backs Chris Williams and Omari Green sat out the kickoff classic with sprained ankles but will be good to go Friday night. Can they replace the production Michael Carter, who’s now at UNC after piling up 3,345 all-purpose yards and 45 touchdowns last year? That’s unrealistic. But Walls is encouraged by the play of the O-line and is confident the aerial attack will open doors for the backfield to thrive.

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