September 27, 2017 09:23 PM
(ABC 6 News) – On paper, the Pine Island Panthers football team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the state on Friday with a 14-9 win over no.4 Stewartville—they relied heavily on two of their stars in the process.
“We just knew we were matched up really well and we could take it to them, and that’s exactly what we did,” Panthers senior quarterback and defensive back Keegan Majerus said.
“We knew that our skilled positions matched-up, it’s just how intense we were going to be out there,” junior running back, linebacker, and punter Josh Navratil added.
Navratil, who is the no.2 rusher in the Southeast Red District (74 carries, 491 yards, 5 touchdowns) and the no.4 receiver in the district (16 receptions, 158 yards, 3 receiving touchdowns), scored a touchdown in the Panthers win over Stewartville.
“Josh is a game-changer,” Panthers head football coach John Stapleton said. “He can change a game with one touch of the ball.”
“(Josh) gives us the chance to do what we did on Friday night and pass for that many yards because of how much they have to key on him as a player,” Majerus added. “He put a lot of work into the offseason, and I’m glad he did because it has helped us.”
Navratil, the younger brother of former Panther running back Jake Navratil, is in his first season as a starter on the Panthers’ varsity. Josh is a few inches taller than Jake, but despite the height differences, Josh wants to be just as fast as his older brother.
“He was a really fast guy,” Josh Navratil said. “It has just kind of pushed me, because I want to be just as fast as him.”
Majerus, who is the top-rated quarterback in the district in the first four weeks (112.31), has completed 77% of his passes this season for 506 yards, while throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for 99 yards, played a huge role offensively—and defensively.
“(With Keegan) there has been so much growth,” Stapleton said. “From when he got some starts (at quarterback) as a sophomore to where he is today as a senior, and how he has developed, it’s really incredible.”
“(Defensively) Keegan did a lot of things you’re not going to see on film or the stat-book. His positioning was practically flawless the entire game. There were no blown coverages or assignments.”
“He’s stepping up as a quarterback,” Navratil said. “He’s throwing a lot of yards, connecting with us. We’ve been down (at the practice field) almost every day of the summer, just running routes, and it’s those little things that add up. He puts the ball on me on practically every throw. It makes everything better.”
“(On defense) he really steps up and shuts the key players down. It’s really helping our team out, and it’s given us a lot of confidence on defense that our pass defense is way better now.”
With Navratil and Majerus leading the way for the Panthers, they’ve won two straight games (Pine Island defeated Lake City, 14-13, on September 15), and the confidence has grown for themselves and the entire team.
“I feel more confident and comfortable,” Navratil said. “(Stewartville) was one of the best lines we’ve faced and we did really well.”
“Both of them have great skill-sets, both have put a great amount of work in this summer, so we’re really excited about how the rest of the year will shake out,” Stapleton added.”
Navratil, Majerus and the Panthers will look for their third-straight win versus La Crescent on Friday.
Updated: September 27, 2017 09:23 PM
Created: September 27, 2017 05:10 PM
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