ORANGE PARK - Orange Park High rode the legs of running back JoJo Restall for a fourth straight win as Raider head coach Tom Macpherson snagged his 100th career win with a 28-14 win over Eastside …
ORANGE PARK - Orange Park High rode the legs of running back JoJo Restall for a fourth straight win as Raider head coach Tom Macpherson snagged his 100th career win with a 28-14 win over Eastside High Friday night at Hoyt B. Cotney Stadium.
“We are maturing and learning from our reps in the games,” said Macpherson. “We opened with four big games; Baker County, Clay and Raines that we were just not ready for as a young team. Against Ridgeview, in game four, we missed by a touchdown, but showed we can play up to teams. The kids are not rookies anymore.”
For Macpherson’s career, which included a 15 year tenure as head coach at Ridgeview High School, a two year stint at Baker County and a return to Clay County to take the Orange Park slot three years ago.
“The 100 wins is a nice number, but I like the 21 years as a coach better,” said Macpherson. (1991 was first head coach gig at Ridgeview. I think it took three games to get my first win and we finished 3-7. But, we went 7-3 the next two years and went to the playoffs both years.”
Macpherson, known for his explosive demeanor on the sideline and his football acumen in the film room, had eight playoff seasons at Ridgeview with a 9-1 season in 2012.
Moore miracles fall just short
Draw play/drops stymie Panther playoff hopes
ST. AUGUSTINE - An emotional Tom Macpherson had tears in his eyes in front of his Ridgeview High Panther football team after their hard-fought 35-26 FHSAA Region 1-6A loss to unbeaten St. Augustine and congratulated his boys for being the best-ever football team he has coached in his 12 years at the helm.
“You guys are truly family because tonight you proved that you would do anything to make this team win and you fought to the very end tonight,” said MacPherson, who finishes at 9-2 for the year. “When it’s this close and you lose like this, it’s tough.”
More pointedly, Macpherson, afterward, admitted that he had not adjusted his defensive scheme quickly enough to offset the two scores put out by the Yellowjackets on a simple draw play that helped St. Augustine running back Levent Sands hit for 261 rushing yards with a game-opening 70 yard score on the third play of the game and an 80 yard score in the fourth quarter.
“We worked on the draw all week,” said Macpherson. “It’s been a great season, but, in the end, we have nothing to show for it. St. Augustine is a great program.”
The best finish for Macpherson, as he recalled, was winning a district title against Columbia Lake City in 2008, his first title.
“They were one of the winningest programs of all time back then and continue to be,” said Macpherson. “That one was pretty good.”
One of the biggest heartbreaks for Macpherson was a close game loss to Raines while at Ridgeview that wound up a 13-7 final.
“Joey Lawson scored on a screen pass that got called back on a penalty flag that would have given us a 14-13 lead,” said Macpherson. “Another was our first round playoff game with St. Augustine in 2012 with Josh Moore and those guys going 9-1 then losing 36-28 in the first round.”
Macpherson, after his 2008 district title, remembered a third round playoff game against Daytone Beach Seabreeze that would have propelled the Panthers to the Final Four.
“Not that getting to the third round was bad, but we had a great season going, we had three playoff games at home and, I thought that game was most disappointing because we had a good chance of taking the program somewhere it never went in a short period of time,” said Macpherson. “That team had guys like Josh Moore, Stanley Dye, Qhahlin Patterson and Ramsey Meyers who all wound up playing good college football after Ridgeview.”
For underrated athletes under Macpherson’s watch, Orange Park High wide receiver Diego Soto and safety Spencer Kirkham jogged his memory for players that came in with little fanfare, but produced on the field.
“Both Diego and Spencer when they got here as freshman were considered decent junior high players, but not many people thought they would finish as three year starters and big time players for Orange Park High,” said Macpherson. “At Ridgeview, guys like Tyler Thomas and Zack McGee came back to coach with me. Derek Hatcher was a big time player. Shane Hoskins was just a guy that when that team got off the bus, you would think they would be a factor in the game but we got to the third round of the playoffs.”
The guy Macpherson coached that was his most impressive player was, ironically, CeCe Jefferson, out of Baker County, who wound up on scholarship at the University of Florida and had a short stint in the NFL.
“He was a defensive end with enough athletic ability to play tight end or fullback on offense,” said Macpherson. “Around here, Kendy Charles was a multiple sport athlete; track, soccer, weightlifting and football that is now a freshman defensive end at Liberty University. Josh Moore, at quarterback and kicker, was great at both and pushed the program to that 9-1 season.”
Macpherson’ guy to tap into for football advise and knowledge is St. Augustine’s retired legend Joey Wiles, a common nemesis for Clay County football.
“My go to has always been Joey Wiles,” said Macpherson. “We played against him during the year and twice in the playoffs. He got St. Augustine to being a great program year in and year out.”
Macpherson’s top nemesis on the sideline had been former Clay High coach Joshua Hoekstra.
“He beat me more than I beat him, but we were similiar guys on the sidelines; extremely excitable,” said Macpherson. “We were both running up and down the sideline, yelling across the field at each other. He made it fun.”
For Macpherson, his biggest asset, in his mind, is his loyalty and resilience to the players under his care.
“I’ve never been a guy that goes out and gets kids to make my program better, but I take what I get and try to get the most out of them,” said Macpherson. “The county being with six high schools very close to each other makes it easy to go to a different school each year. The longevity of it is what tells the kids that I’m here for the program. I have taken my licks, but keep showing up. I’ve been 1-9 and 9-1. I’d like to be known as a guy who builds something and not a guy who inherits then moves on to the next thing.”
Ridgeview 9-1, Head Coach Tom Macpherson
Key game notes: Panthers suffered district title loss to Columbia with traffic, weather and pre-game meal complications. Last four games have been first half displays of offensive firepower and defensive stealthiness. Key injuries to speedsters Stanley Dye and Skyler Humphrey have allowed younger players to emerge. Dye is probably back and adds speed wherever he plays in secondary or in backfield. Defensive tackle Jeff Jernigan and his buddies; Tyler Pouncy, Troy Jenske and Malcolm Kirce have been a wall of denial in last four weeks.
Analysis: Clay High coach Josh Hoekstra calls it a fourth quarter decided game. “Both are talented and explosive and Ridgeview’s defense has played big in second half of season. St. Augustine has some outstanding wide receivers that will need to be accounted for. Both coaches will find a way to win.”
Game One: 5A-Creekside (4-6): Ridgeview wins 38-13.
Game Two: 5A-Clay (5-5): Ridgeview wins 30-21.
Game Three: 5A-Palatka (4-6): Ridgeview wins 34-24.
Game Four: 6A-Orange Park (3-7): Ridgeview wins 41-27.
Game Five: 5A-Bishop Kenny (7-3): Ridgeview wins 42-35
Game Six: 6A-Columbia (9-1): Columbia wins 52-17.
Game Seven: 6A-Oakleaf (6-4): Ridgeview wins 42-28.
Game Eight: 6A-Leon (2-8): Ridgeview wins 58-21.
Game Nine: 6A-Middleburg (1-9): Ridgeview wins 42-3.
Game 10: 5A-Menendez (2-8): Ridgeview wins 51-14.
Ridgeview opponents’ won/loss record: 43-57. Under Head Coach Tom Macpherson, Ridgeview record 46-51. In 2011, won district 3-6A, lost to Bartram Trail in region quarterfinal, Bartram Trail lost in vacated title game. In 2010, runnerup in district 4-4A, lost to state champion Lincoln in round one. In 2008, won district 5-4A title, beat Lake Weir in round one, Ponte Vedra Nease in round two, lost to Daytona Beach Seabreeze in region final. Seabreeze lost to state runnerup Tallahassee Lincoln. In 2005, runnerup in district 5-4A, lost to Gainesville Eastside in round one. In 2004, runnerup in 5-3A, lost to St. Augustine 32-21 in round one.
72-78 15 years at rhs with 8 playoffs.
10-11 in baker
17 in OPHS