Blue Devils go ‘11 hats to ball’

Kennard: We have to clean up some things

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 5/18/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - The aromatic smell of fresh pancakes filled the Clay High football stadium as volleyball ace Aubri Martin exercised some deft spatula skills, but the thought of savory syrup, …

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Blue Devils go ‘11 hats to ball’

Kennard: We have to clean up some things

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - The aromatic smell of fresh pancakes filled the Clay High football stadium as volleyball ace Aubri Martin exercised some deft spatula skills, but the thought of savory syrup, bacon and sausage and a glass of sweet iced tea may have been a distraction for the Clay High football boys attempting to scrimmage simultaneously.

“This is spring football and we have a lot to clean up out there over the summer,” said Clay coach Kyle Kennard, who displayed a pretty efficient double

quarterback set with sophomore Merrick Rapoza and junior Cam Garcia both directing the Blue Devil attack. “Both guys give us certain looks that we can work with. We had some trouble with the center snaps throughout the scrimmage and that’s the first step to scoring points.”

On the field, with veteran defensive stalwarts such as defensive end Blake Thompson, Clay Today defensive player of year, and linebacker Dominic Martin patrolling and making semi-attacking plays at the point of attack, Clay’s defense showed off one very physical and promising athlete on the D-Line in Bryan Prince, a stout 6’2”, maybe 240 pounder who was quick to the backfield and destructive.

One name that was repeated often after the whistle as the pile dispersed was linebacker Javaris Roberts, who was flying around making stops and even had a strip sack that got a defensive fumble recovery.

On the fly, in the secondary, senior Jarvis Lee displayed why he will be the trigger man on both sides of the ball with pass coverage from his safety slot with a number of “comfortable” pass knock-downs in the low contact event. Lee, who broke for gains on some jet sweep offensive action, including a Tony Dorsett like brake and switch fields for a 35 yard gain, could possibly unseat Thompson as defensive player of year with his ability to steal and go in the secondary which makes for good highlight reel action.

“We were going for hats to the ball contact, but not big hits today and the guys were flying to the ball,” said Kennard. “Blake is Blake and he was disruptive. Bryan Prince is going to be a big impact player.”

On the O-Line, a new nickname is forthcoming, according to ringleader Bradley Warren, a senior returner, and with bruiser Chandler Thomas lugging the leather, the Blue Devil attack could be as ferocious up front as ever, especially with the sizes of some of the pancake monsters in play. O-Line coach Jarrod Leeds, a Clay Today offensive player of year at offensive tackle years ago, is heading up the technique of the five-man front with Cody Mobley his very big wingman at tackle. Warren stepped in at center for some of the scrimmage, but his forte is pulling guard to seek and destroy the outside corner for Lee and fullback-kind of Thomas.

One nice bunch of looks came from wide out Payton Dykas who is evolving as a favorite target of Rapoza and a dependable ball catcher.

“Our plan is to get the ball to guys who can score points and change games and Payton is one of them,” said Kennard.

Kennard’s offensive point man is coach Brian Flaherty who has an uncanny sense of what his athletes can do successfully and puts that plan in motion.

“We will have a lot of options to get downfield with our personnel,” said Kennard. “On me and coaches to do that.”

Clay has Ponte Vedra in town May 26 for the spring classic.

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