Trip down memory lane…Coach Larry Olson

Coach Olson going over plays during the game.
Coach Olson getting the Gatorade treatment after a win.
Navarre fielded their first Varsity Football team during the 1998 season (with their first junior class). They went 4-5 under Coach Kenny Hughes that season. Coach Danny Williams would take over for the next three years (going 12-18); followed by Larry Olson.
Coach Olson has been on a sideline since 1971; starting out as an assistant at Niceville from 1971 to 1974. He stayed in Okaloosa County and moved over to Fort Walton Beach from 1974 to 1985. His path then led to Crestview, where he was hired as the Head Coach and Athletic Director in 1986 and remained there until 1998, going 76-60.
In 1999, he moved one county over to the west, Santa Rosa, where was he hired as an assistant coach under Coach Williams. In 2002, Coach Olson was hired as the Raiders third coach in their short history.
Navarre would get a victory in Coach Olson’s first game at the helm, but it was a forfeited win from Arlington Country Day. After dropping a 27-13 contest to Catholic; he received his first win on the field of play, taking out Walton 38-15. The Raiders finished the 2002 season (4-6) with their first win in school history over their Santa Rosa County foe, Gulf Breeze, 21-13.
After winning their last two games in 2002, they started the 2003 season with three straight wins, running their longest winning streak to five games. Navarre lost three of their last five games to finish the season at 5-4. This was the first winning season in Raider history.
The 2004 season was limited to eight games due to Hurricane Ivan. Navarre could never really get their feet underneath themselves and only managed victories over West Florida Tech, Catholic and Milton, finishing the year at 3-5. Coach Olson stood at 12-15 through his first three campaigns.
2005 started out well for Coach Olson and the Raiders as they won four of their first five games. But after a 33-12 win over Holmes County, Navarre would not find the “W” column for the remainder of the season, finishing up at 4-6.
Things were starting to come together for the Raiders in 2006. Coach Olson had his young team firing on all cylinders right out of the gate winning their first two games over West Florida and University Christian. After back to back setbacks to Catholic and Milton, Navarre won five straight games to run their record to 7-2 (first time for seven wins in a season) and finished 3-0 in District play, securing their first ever State Playoff berth. The Raiders lost to Gulf Breeze to end the regular season and would face another Santa Rosa County foe in the playoffs, Pace.
The Patriots clamped down on the passing game of Austin Grimm and secured a 26-7 victory at Bennett C. Russell Stadium, ending Navarre’s historical season at 7-4.
With a lot of returning players going into the 2007 season, Coach Olson and the Raider faithful had high expectations for the upcoming season. Navarre went on to win five of their first six games and finished the regular season with a win over Gulf Breeze, 35-14, to run their record to 7-3 and finished undefeated in District play for the second straight year. A familiar foe awaited them in first round of the State Playoffs, Pace. This time though the Raiders had to go on the road. They could never really get their offense going in a 55-13 loss to finish their season at 7-4.
Coach Olson set the table for where the Navarre program is today. He handed the reins over to Coach Chad Lashley in 2008; who took the Raiders to their first Region Final in 2010; then onto current Head Coach Jay Walls in 2012, who will be entering his ninth year in 2020 and has taken the Raiders to their first two State Semifinals.
Hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane!
“Always Greater to be a Raider”
Head Coach – Larry Olson (30-29)

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