GREEN COVE SPRINGS – On Homecoming Night 2017, the Clay Blue Devils used shock and awe to stun the visiting Pedro Menendez High Falcons (3-2 coming into the game) by putting up 60 offensive points …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – On Homecoming Night 2017, the Clay Blue Devils used shock and awe to stun the visiting Pedro Menendez High Falcons (3-2 coming into the game) by putting up 60 offensive points and stopping the hurry-up Falcon offense as they opened their district 5-5A play with a 60-49 victory at Blue Devil Stadium.
“I’m not real happy how we played defensively, but I’m going to be honest, we’re 1-0 in the district and we finally got it up to 5A play,” said Clay coach Joshua Hoekstra, who has endured rugged games with 7A powers Fleming Island, Bartram Trail and Oakleaf in his first half of the season.
Hoeksta reverted back to power football with fullback Aundre Carter pounding out 282 yards with four scores to push the Blue Devils into the playoff picture once again. Carter ran for over 200 yards last week against Oakleaf High School in Clay’s win in that game.
“Everyday Coach is preaching to us, finish runs, work hard, keep moving the legs and it pays off in the game,” said Carter, a transfer from Bradford County where he was a Class 4A first team all state selection. “I had my mind set. It was my last homecoming game and I was going out with a bang!”
Carter tied his personal record with four rushing touchdowns and played as hard or harder in the fourth quarter as he did on the first play.
“He’s just extremely strong. He runs really hard all week long and that’s what we talk about,” said Hoekstra, who has had his share of power ball carriers in Bilal Ally, Shannon Asbell and Teddy Monroe, plus Louisville running back Colin Wilson, who had a 19 yard run on Saturday in the Cardinals 55-10 win over Murray State. “You’re going to play like you practice. He practices extremely hard. Every run, he is running to score in practice so in a game,when he has two and three guys on him, he keeps his legs moving.”
Carter blasted the Menendez defense with scoring runs of one, six, 65 and one yard while quarterback Caleb Eason passed for three scores off 163 yards in the air. Carter had a 70 yard run to the Menendez one yard line that he scored on the next play from.
The Achilles heel all night were the point after attempts by Clay.
“The P.A.T.s were a nightmare,” said Hoekstra. “We had multiple issues with the ball being wet, sloppy on the snaps, and it’s something we have to clean up because that’s going to catch up to us if we do that again. It should have been 64-65 to 49.”
Eason had an outstanding night with 44 yards rushing, 163 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Eason had no interceptions and calmly lead the Blue Devil attack with precision. “Caleb managed the game perfectly tonight,” said Hoekstra. “He took his time when we needed to, made some bigtime throws, pulled it down and ran the ball, knew at the end to throw it to (Spencer) Lasage which was a great, great play, just a great job by Caleb.”
Other outstanding Blue Devil play came from running back Cedrick Brown with 108 yards, one touchdown on the night, wide receiver Ajay Belanger with 63 receiving yards; Spencer Lesage with 53 receiving yards; Christian Swilley with two touchdowns, 73 rushing yards, 13 receiving yards, and Denaud Valmyr with two touchdown receptions of 26 and 34 yards.
On the flip side of the offensive explosion for the Blue Devils, the Falcon duo of Quarterback Darian Oxendine and Running Back Kenny Logan would be a thorn in the side of the Clay defense all night. Key stops, especially early in the game, would allow the score-fest to stay in Clay’s favor. The Falcons came out and stayed with a quick snap offense that Clay attempted to adjust to all week.
In the first quarter, the Clay defense did what it had to as the Falcons fumbled on their first drive, recovered by linebacker Cody Devore. The Devils turned that miscue into seven points. The next Falcon drive was turned over on downs. Clay couldn’t capitalize on that drive and would punt the only time they needed to all night. The defense continued to stand up when they had to, and the next Falcon drive was stopped with a field goal. While Menendez did score, it was only three points and would be what Clay needed as the two teams would continue to go toe-to-toe, exchanging touchdowns. With the Clay offense not turning over the ball, the Falcons could do nothing with the Clay offense.
Upcoming for the Blue Devils are four back-to-back district games.
“We have four more district games, next week we are at Orange Park in the make-up game, then we go at Ridgeview, back home for Baker (County) and home for Palatka”. Orange Park, with their 1-4 record will be do or die in the district if they want to have any chance for the runner up position after their 21-14 loss to Ridgeview last week. Clay season finale is against Class 2A defending champion University Christian, who are unbeaten at 5-0.