FLEMING ISLAND - With a season-opening win over county-power Clay High, two shutouts and a 10-0 loss to the most potent offense in north Florida, the Fleming Island High Golden Eagle defense was as …
FLEMING ISLAND - With a season-opening win over county-power Clay High, two shutouts and a 10-0 loss to the most potent offense in north Florida, the Fleming Island High Golden Eagle defense was as tough as any to move the ball on and the key to that “unsuccess” was senior defensive noseguard Brandyne Mackey.
Mackey, with a stat attack-pack of 57 tackles, 18 tackles for losses and 10 quarterback sacks; plus 14 hurries; all top tier numbers in north Florida, is selected as the Clay Today Defensive Player of the Year for 2016.
Mackey’s size, just 6-foot, 220 pounds, hides a fury from within while his footspeed and quickness give him an edge against much taller and heavier offensive linemen.
“He definitely was the big reason we were able to get a couple of shutouts, slow down the Clay kid, and also to keep that Bartram Trail offense out of the end zone,” said Fleming Island coach Damenyum Springs. “Bartram Trail only got their 10 points off a trick play in the fourth quarter and a field goal after we stuffed them late in the game.”
For Mackey, with numerous college visits already being arranged, the chase was the key. At times throughout the season, Mackey’s quickness and drive was called up to be a fullback on offense for Springs.
“His first step was always forward and he never let up on a play which never gave the offensive lineman a clean shot at him,” said Springs. “From there, he just chased quarterbacks down or ate up running backs at the point of attack. He was a tough running back too.”
Mackey’s first game in the center of the Fleming Island defense featured one of the more talked-about offensive lines and running backs in Florida as Clay High visited Fleming Island stadium on opening day. Clay senior Colin Wilson, a commit to University of Louisville, was held to just 103 yards of rushing and just one rushing touchdown in the 24-14 Golden Eagle win. Mackey stuffed Wilson at the Fleming Island five yard line late the game.
Fleming Island would get their first shutout in game two, a 3-0 win over Middleburg High.
In their third game, a 10-0 loss to 3-7A runnerup Bartram Trail, Fleming Island held a vaunted Bears offense that averaged 400 yards of offense and had game scores of 34, 22 and 54 points, to just 49 yards rushing; 17 yards the longest run from scrimmage, and 200 yards in the air. Bartram Trail would lose in their 7A region final while Clay would lose in their Class 5A state semifinal. Fleming Island’s other shutout was a season-ending 29-0 win over Orange Park.
“When teams thought they could run right at him because of his lack of size, he made them pay,” said Springs. “Oakleaf get their big run game off our corners.”
Springs’ reference to Oakleaf was a record night 321 yards rushing from Knights’ running back KeShawn King, including a 92 yarder, that ended with Oakleaf winning 59-37. Mackey did catch King twice for tackles for loss just after getting the handoff from Knights’ quarterback Jordan Johnson.
Against Ed White, Mackey would score a running touchdown and cause a quarterback fumble that he also recovered. Against Orange Park, Mackey had four sacks and a “de-cleating” of Raider quarterback Tommy Moore who flew nearly four feet backward after a collision in the backfield with Mackey. Against Bartram Trail, Mackey sacked quarterback Joey Gatewood for a key 12 yard loss then had three straight handoffs for net gains of nine yards each.
Mackey, recently selected to the annual Florida/Georgia Border War football all star game in January, is currently getting interest from Livingston College and Shaw University with more visits planned for the spring.
Backing up Mackey at the center of the Clay Today All County Defense First Team are Jayon Bradley, the Oakleaf monster up front with 41 tackles (27 solos) with 4.5 tackles for losses and one safety.
“Brute Strength and knowledge of the game contributed to him being one of the toughest to block in the area,” said Oakleaf High head coach Steve Reynolds.
Also on the defensive line, Middleburg had two bookend defensive ends with senior Andrew Austin the “Ted Hendricks-like” highlight with 57 tackles from the outside, an amazing 10 sacks and one each of an interception, fumble recovery and fumble caused.
On the other end, Bronco Carvin Duverge, looking like a small Carl Eller (Minnesota Vikings) answered with equal aplomb for coach Karl Smeltzer with 59 tackles, five sacks and a fumble.
One of the top sackers was Orange Park High senior Norman Andara who nailed 10 quarterbacks amongs his 45 tackles and six tackles for losses.
Behind the defensive line, Clay High seniors Rico Schnitzler and Evan Martin were a one-two punch at linebacker with Schnitzler, who moved up from a noseguard spot in 2015, smashing 140 regular season tackles with 40 more in four playoff games with Martin busting up 118 tackles from the outside with 67 solos, three tackles for loss, two sacks, an interception, four pass blacks and a blocked field goal.
Fleming Island High had one of the stingiest defense behind Mackey with junior Ryan Smenda a fast-moving battering ram for coach Damenyum Springs. Smenda followed up with 78 tackles; 15 for losses on blitz packages, two sacks and six quarterback hurries. Smenda also had a spectacular diving interception against Oakleaf that thwarted the Knights’ first offensive series.
The second outside linebacker position goes to Fleming Island junior Jack Surgeoner, one of the smarter players in the position who had an area-high 12 tackles for loss with his 72 tackles and one sack.
In the secondary, back on the Clay Today first team roster four-man roster is Oakleaf senior Nick Roberts, who added to his resume with a stunning six interceptions; four for scores, before heading to the University of South Florida. Roberts added to his lore with punt returns, rushing and catching passes on offense and two blocked kicks; a field goal and a point after kick.
“After a junior year in which people stayed away from him, they did the same thing this year, but when they did go to his side in rare cases, he made them pay, BIG,” said Reynolds. “Four interceptions returned for touchdowns is unheard of.”
Middleburg High had their own ball hawk in senior safety Travis Hupp who also snagged six enemy passes with two critical snares in a district matchup against Nease High that put the Broncos into the region playoffs. Hupp also stayed busy on the field with 51 tackles in open field situations.
Fleming Island High senior K.B. Ashe at a safety spot was a menace that got opportunities from the speed of the defensive line pressuring opposing quarterbacks with five picks, nine pass breakups and four fumbles. Ashe also had 45 tackles with four for losses. Ashe had two end zone passes that stopped opponent scoring opportunities.
The fourth member of the air defense goes to Oakleaf High senior Kwame Clark who was in the six-pack club in the area with six picks; one for a touchdown, and 44 very hard tackles. Clark and teammate Nick Roberts also both had rushing touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball for coach Reynolds.
For the kickers, one of Oakleaf High’s biggest guys, Todd Nixon, was not on the defensive or offensive line, but 12 yards back as the punter and seven yards back as the field goal kicker. Nixon was perfect on 16 point after kicks and hit four of six field goal attempts.
Punting for nearly 40 per 43 kicks, Fleming Island’s Ryan Smenda was a boomer leg for the Golden Eagles with a 60 yarder his longest. Smenda had some targeting expertise with seven kicks staying inside enemy 15 yard lines.
Clay Today Defensive Player of Year
Brandyne Mackey, Senior, Fleming Island, noseguard
Clay Today All County Defense First Team
DL Jayon Bradley, Senior, Oakleaf
DL Andrew Austin, Senior, Middleburg
DL Carvin Duverge, Senior, Middleburg
DL Norman Andara, Senior, Orange Park
LB Rico Schnitzler, Senior, Clay
LB Ryan Smenda, Junior, Fleming Island
LB Evan Martin, Senior, Clay
DB Nick Roberts, Senior, Oakleaf
DB Kwame Clark, Senior, Oakleaf
DB Travis Hupp, Senior, Middleburg
DB K.B. Ashe, Senior, Fleming Island
Kicker: Todd Nixon, Senior, Oakleaf
Punter: Ryan Smenda, Junior, Fleming Island
Clay Today All County Defense Second Team
DL Dominique Mitchell, Senior, Oakleaf (40 tackles, 4 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 Hurry)
DL Bradley Williamson-Hunter, Senior, Oakleaf (35 Tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 5.5 Sacks)
DL Tobiah Griffin, Senior, Clay (57 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 9 QB Hurries)
DL Angelo Dorsaingvil, Senior, Clay (8TFLs, 3Sacks)
LB Shad Taylor, Senior, Middleburg (83 Tackles, 1 INT)
LB Dexter Moore, Sophomore, Oakleaf (74 Tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 2 Sacks, 1 Fumble, 3 Pass Breakups)
LB Anthony Norris, Senior, Oakleaf (60 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1 Sack, 3 Hurries)
DB Darrius Portis, Senior, Orange Park (50 Tackles, 3 INTs, 1 fumble)
DB Naji Inman, Junior, Fleming Island (28 Tackles, 2 INTs, 1 sack, 6 Pass breakups)
DB Antwaine Stone, Senior, Middleburg (4 INTs)
DB Marquez Delafield, Senior, Clay (51 tackles, 4INTs)
Kicker: Nick McCarter, Senior, Ridgeview (13 of 16 PATs, 2 FG - 37 Yds longest)
Punter: Matthew Stovall, Junior, Keystone Heights (39.7 average)
Clay Today All County Defensive Honorable Mention
DL Cody Devore, Sophomore, Clay (7 QB Hurries, 39 tackles)
DL Jake Libretto, Sophomore, Ridgeview (5 Sacks, 5 Hurries, 37 Tackles)
DL Joel Enriquez, Senior, Middleburg (36 tackles, 6 TFLs)
DL Shawn Bizzell, Senior, Orange Park
LB Kodi Carrington, Junior, Middleburg (88 Tackles, 3 Fumbles)
LB Twain Newton, Senior, Orange Park
LB Justin Raysin, Senior, Keystone Heights (98 Tackles)
DB Jake Denny, Senior, Ridgeview (75 tackles)
DB Tristan Brown, Junior, Oakleaf (51 Tackles, 3 INTs, 1 Fumble recovered)
DB Devin Jones, Senior,Orange Park (25 Tackles, 1 INT, 8 PBUs, 1 fumble)
Kicker: Liz Fogarty, Junior, Clay (26 of 31 PATs, 1 FG-27 Yds, outstanding pooch kickoffs)
Punter: Drew Bartley, Junior, Orange Park