GREEN COVE SPRINGS - With the departure of long-time head coach Joshua Hoekstra and offensive line coach Matthew Lawrence, the Clay High School football team will be relying on tradition and familiar faces to push forward from the exodus with new head coach John Stilianou, long the defensive schemer for Clay, and, just for a while, the offensive line expertise of graduated offensive lineman Jordan Collins.
Stilianou, Clay’s athletic director and flag football coach up until this past spring with Hoekstra’s departure, got his keys back to the football locker room after his daughter, Alexis, finished out her outstanding athletic career at Clay; basketball, track and flag football, thus releasing dad Stilianou to get back in the game.
For Collins, who heads to North Carolina Wesleyan College for his upcoming college football debut, has been stepping into a new role of offensive line coach for Stilianou until the void can get filled.
From the team, speedster Derek Holt, a top drawer pass catcher and kick returner for the Blue Devils last year, has moved to South Carolina with his family leaving Stilianou with a question mark for who is to catch quarterback Tre Griner’s passes. Also, linebacker and offensive athlete T.K. Kocak is now at Fleming Island High School.
Enter sophomore running back Al’Querious Ray who, at a very agile 210 pounds of rolling steam, stormed on to the Blue Devil offensive side of the ball for a quick lesson in ground game frontal attack.
Clay has traditionally been rugged up front and a three-pack of seniors; Joseph Grelli, Jordan Bell and John Haymore, will bring a bucketload of experience to the fore with Collins, a fourth part of last year’s squad, adding his own tactics to bring the trio a step up.
The additional piece of the puzzle, if Stilianou cannot find a scat back to the tune of Bilal Ally or Colin Wilson just may be another wrecking ball sized ballcarrier, thus far unnamed, and thus far, an impressive piece of personnel work by Stilianou and offensive coach Jared Moses. Returners Dallane Brown, William Kendrick and Brishaun Britt are smaller by comparison for the Blue Devil backfield.
Defensively, coaches Rodney Keller will look to Joe Reed at a linebacker and possible Colin Dumas on the line with Dumas one of the strongest guys in the county. The anchor last year on the defensive line was Ty Summerford who has bumped up from his 250 pounds to present an impressive front line for Clay. On the end was wrestler Brian Lester who showed some quick feet in chasing Griner out of the pocket in Monday’s scrimmage.