FLEMING ISLAND – Clay High’s unbeaten flag football squad ended the regular season with back-to-back shutouts with last week’s 27-0 win over Orange Park followed by a 33-0 win over 2A-Fleming Island on Wed., April 18.
The wins ends the regular season with Clay heading to Baldwin High for a clash with Clay holding top three rank in Class 1A to face Westside and Orange Park to face Baldwin in semifinal action on Tues., April 24. Finals are scheduled for Wed., April 25.
Orange Park rebounded from the Clay loss with a 33-6 win over Fleming Island on Thurs., April 19. Fleming Island, in Class 2A and, at times, in the top 25 rankings statewide, heads to Atlantic Coast High to play Lee in an early semifinal then await results for an 8 p.m. final, also on April 24.
Despite being Fleming Island’s senior night, the Blue Devils were not cordial guests as they barged their way in and frustrated the Golden Eagles time and again with the Clay shut down defense that has only allowed a measly six points all season.
“We tell our kids no matter who the opponent is, it doesn’t matter. We’re not looking at jerseys. We have to execute on offense, and defensively we have to keep everything in front of us and pull flags. We have to do “our” job and do the things important to us” said Clay Head Coach Jay Stilianou. “Even if they make a mistake, they get back in there on the next down and make a play. That’s all we ask and it’s worked all year.”
The Blue Devils went to work on the opening drive, punted only once all night, and choked the Golden Eagles with a 33-0 blowout to end both team’s regular seasons.
Clay Quarterback Ciara Zino had a field day with her receivers as the Blue Devils threw at will and picked apart the Golden Eagle defense. On the opening drive, it was a steady diet of Brookelyn Gerush and Lea Plante.
After three first downs, Zino saw Plante open, launched and after 5:50 were up 6-0. The good point after brought it to 7-0 and finally a chance for the Golden Eagles to even the score. On offense, the Fleming Island team was hamstrung due to a couple of key players being across town at the district track meet. After two small gains, Clay’s Ariana Bellemy went on a tear, broke through and stripped Fleming Quarterback Hope Rozier’s flag for a sack, resulting in the Golden Eagle’s first punt.
That script would play over four more times with Zino hitting Skye Paradise, Plante, and finally over to Abby Hawkins for score number two. The failed point after left it 13-0 at the end of the first quarter. The start of the second quarter began with Fleming back on offense which resulted in another three and out punt. The Blue Devils stuck with what worked and again passed to Paradise, then a pass to Gerush who pitched the ball to Lea Plante for a huge gain and first and goal to go. Zino got the team to the three yard line with a good end run. After a couple failed attempts, Zino launched a ball that only Plante could climb the ladder for, haul the ball in and put their team up 19-0.
“In the end, I can’t do it without my teammates” said
Coming into the Fleming Island game, Zino, a sophomore, had thrown 30 touchdowns and no interceptions.
In the Golden Eagles game against Orange Park a week later, the Lady Raiders opened up a 33-0 lead with quarterback Harlee Sharp hitting Jacie Ankrom and Rosa Sawyer for scoring passes and Sawyer adding a second half pick six interception from midfield.
On Orange Park’s first scoring drive, Sharp hit Ankrom who lateraled to Sawyer for the score. Sawyer scored her second score of the first half on a long pass downfield that Fleming Island safety Ashley Byrd misplayed to allow Sawyer to grab the ball and run 20 yards to paydirt. Naeyli Williams also had an interception.
Fleming Island scored in the fourth quarter to end the game 33-6.