• John Macon Gillespie

Nave & His Wildcats Staying Focused

It’s hard to get any hotter than Kemper County(7-1, 2-0), who suffered a season-opening loss to 6A contender Columbus. Since then the Wildcats have won seven straight and are coming off a game in which they reached 72 points.

A talented cast of characters have helped the surge this season. Quarterback Eric Clark Jr. is a bonafide candidate for 3A Player of the Year due to his 23 touchdown passes and averages over 260 total yards per game. DJ Clayton has 52 catches for 1,038 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively Demarcus Smith has six sacks, while Tyren Glaspie has three picks.

Perhaps the most gifted athlete for Wildcats, though, is South Alabama pledge and senior defensive back Gus Nave Jr. His impact has been greatly felt on both offense and defense, but it doesn’t end there. Plain and clear, Nave is playmaker who always has himself in the right place.

Obviously he was a big fan of his future school getting an enormous upset victory over an SEC school from his home state. The Jaguars beating Mississippi State in the season-opener is something that brought him pride.

“I was excited. It was their first ever win over an SEC team. So I was really happy,” Nave told SES Mississippi.

He also detailed a few of the qualities that South Alabama, and other schools who pursued him, like about his game.

“They like my size, speed, cover skill and just the way I compete. They like the way I respond to adversity. Other schools like the same things.”

Being committed to play on the next level is something Nave knows is a product of his hard work. He is always looking to improve his game and there are a few areas he feels he is better with this season.

“I have improved a lot in my man-to-man technique and getting my hands on the ball while it’s in the air,” Nave said. “I’m just making more plays than last season.”

He has a point. So far this season Nave’s numbers read like this: 11 receptions for 197 yards and four scores on offense, plus 26 tackles, four interceptions and four pass deflections on defense and finally, a kickoff return 70 yards for a score, two blocked field goals and a blocked punt on special teams.

Though his numbers are hard for most to ignore, he maintains that his focus, like his teammates, is on the goals ahead. The outside distractions are not relevant to him, and that can be credited to the motto set forth for the Wildcats this season by head coach Chris Jones.

“What’s important now. W.I.N.,” Nave stated. “To me that means focusing on the right now, not looking too far ahead and just focus on the right now and the team we play this week.”

“We have found success this season because of the way we compete every day at practice. We work really hard and coach Jones stays on us about getting better each day. We are focusing on Southeast(Lauderdale) right now.”

The camaraderie on the team is to be noted as a prominent reason for the success in 2016. Not only are the players close, but they share many of the same qualities, according to Nave.

“Our competitiveness and leadership is a big facto in our success. We are a very tight bunch so we try to stick together as much as possible,” He explained.

Though the rankings matter not to the star athlete and his teammates, he is still aware of them. And he has some thoughts of his on about how the teams in 3A should be ranked.

“We don’t worry about rankings, we just play on Friday,” He said. “But I do think we are the best and most complete team in 3A.”

**Photo by Jason Dyess of Fourth and Goal Photography.

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