JACKSONVILLE – Clay County high school football fans should be revved up for the upcoming season if the chat at the Baker Sports Media Day gathering is any indication as area teams promise to blow …
JACKSONVILLE – Clay County high school football fans should be revved up for the upcoming season if the chat at the Baker Sports Media Day gathering is any indication as area teams promise to blow up the scoreboard.
Most notably is Oakleaf High School with features, arguably, the fasters ballcarrier in north Florida if not all of Florida, senior tailback Keshawn King.
“I’m not going to tell you too much, but we’re going to throw the ball down the field,” said Jamaric Bonner, a Knights’ senior slotback who also doubles as a safety on defense. “He (King) is a little faster than me, but I’d give the ball to him.”
Knights’ coach Frank Garis, a first year hire with sideline experience at such offensively strong schools as Ponte Vedra and Clay, likes the look of the new Knights.
“First and foremost, we are going to run the football,” said Garis. “July was a perfect attendance month for the today and that tells me they are buying into the system.”
Top names mentioned were King, Bonner, Xander Warner, a tight end and massive offensive tackle Jalen Rivers at 6’-5”, 310-320 lbs.
“The team likes Walter and thats vital,” said Garis.
Just down the road, Ridgeview High houses the most dangerous package of pass play acrobats led by senior quarterback Tyler Huff. Huff has a crafty bunch of pass catchers with Denalo Lindo, Jaiden Turner, Brian Jackson and tailback Caleb Plyler.
“We miss just one guy from last year with Kiaran Turner, Jaidan’s big brother, graduated with his nine touchdowns,” said Huff. “It’s easy to spread the ball. I think we have the most explosive offense around.”
One plus for the is senior tackle Cory Nicholson, who returns from an injury to lead a five-man front that missed games last year with injuries.
“Me and Anthony Troupe come back from injuries and our other three are returners,” said Nicholson. “We know we have explosive guys behind us and we have to deliver our part to get them downfield.”
At Fleming Island, senior quarterback Dean Hyams should be strong with big running back Dewayne McBride, who missed most of the season last year with a broken hand after bludgeoning Clay High in the season opener, and veteran Max Michaels behind him. Hyams top target will be re-converted offensive tackle back to tight end Sam Snyder, a 6’-5” product that just verbal committed to University of Louisville.
Snyder will be a prime target from his height with slot back Aaron Ramirez, a track 100, 200 meter runner, the second shot downfield.
“Dean has improved on his patience and will be able to make that good decision to find one of us or Jacob Ashe, the other 6’-3” pass catcher at a wide receiver slot,” said Snyder.
They big question mark for Fleming Island fans is replacing the three graduated linebackers.
“They set the bar very high,” said Fleming Island defensive coach James Nichols. “Coach Kennard (former Oakleaf defensive coach Kyle Kennard) has been doing a good job to find the right three.”
Clay High senior quarterback Spencer LeSage comes in as a returning pass catcher from last year’s region final team, but standing in this summer for injured senior Turner Erstad.
“Turner got his first return to the field today,” said LeSage. “We don’t know yet who is going to be quarterback. I don’t really care where they put me as long as we win.”
Clay’s strength, as history has shown, comes from the offensive line that just grinds down people up front.
Led by senior Jordan Collins, the front features senior center Mike Carns, who stands above 300 lbs.
“The key for us is the weightroom everyday,” said Collins, on Clay’s annual supply of large, mobile guys up front. “We have to live up to the history of past offensive lines.”
Orange Park’s future shifted quickly with the tranfer out of one probable quarterback, but the retooling of a junior varsity guy, Vinny Walker, who comes in with his own set of skills and targets, according to coach Tom Macpherson.
“Terrance Johnson, last year’s quarterback and a key playmaker, is the guy we want to put the ball in his hands as much as we can,” said Macpherson. “Vinny has two starts under his belt and our base offense is designed to get the ball to our skill guys.”
Skill guys included Alex Collier, a track speedster; Zykiem Sermons at tailback; Deonte Demonick, who returns from a shoulder injury and adds some heft to the attack with Sean Dixon, another track speedster on the outside.
“We have enough skill position guys that if our offensive line holds up, we’ll be alright,” said Macpherson.
On the line, big men James Rhodes (280 lbs), Cedric Flanders (240 lbs.) and Silas Little (295 lbs.) will lead the charge.
“We are working on our fourth and fifth guys to complete the offensive line,” said Little.”Our chemistry is working together with three years strong with each other.”
Watch for sophomore tailback Alex Collier, a 48 second 400 meter track guy that took third in the 400 for Class 3A.
“He’s a speed demon,” said tailback Robbie Reynolds, also a linebacker.
St. Johns Country Day School, under new coaches Derek Chipoletti, Steven Reynolds and former Oakleaf High center David Broskie, are starting at ground zero in giving the Spartans a new look.
“It’s a quaint atmosphere at St. Johns,” said Reynolds. “Just the community of players, fans and parents is special and we want to improve that. We are creating a buzz.”
From the Spartans, newcoming senior Tyler Townsend, a Bishop Snyder transfer after a freshman year at Oakleaf with Chipoletti.
“We want to just show everyone who we are,” said Townsend. “Every one wants to make us their homecoming game. That’s going to change.”
Key on offense is quarterback Max Monroe, a prototype-sized player with good size, good vision and a little grit. Monroe loses his favorite receiver in Cade Walden and tailback Troy Myers, but Eli Morton returns to be the offense’s leader.
“Eli will be a feature back with Max Arnold a slot,” said Reynolds. “Townsend makes a good tight end target. Max can be a premiere quarterback at any other school. He has the tools; great arm strength, tough, leader and has not missed a workout all summer. He can be the beacon that leads St. Johns into the future.”
Unfortunately, Middleburg was unable to attend.