ST JOHNS - Clay High senior Quarterback Tre Griner, the Blue Devils’ team Captain for the coin toss, won the call and elected to take the ball to start the game and make a statement. “We …
ST JOHNS - Clay High senior Quarterback Tre Griner, the Blue Devils’ team Captain for the coin toss, won the call and elected to take the ball to start the game and make a statement.
“We wanted to show them we are not the same team from last year,” said Griner, noting the Blue Devils’ 44-43 loss last year and their 1-9 record for 2019. “We are a whole different team. We wanted to come out here and fire them up in the first quarter.”
And fire away they did.
On the first play, Griner only needed seconds to find wide receiver Reid Waugh in the left flat to go up 7-0 in 28 seconds.
For the rest of the game, Clay bolted on a super-charger in that steamroller and simply smashed the Falcons 49-7. The total team effort kept Clay a perfect 5-0 as they continue to flatten anything that gets in their way.
For first year coach Kyle Kennard, the explosiveness of his offense under Griner only hides the affection for his big guys up front on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
“My defensive line doesn’t get enough love” said Kennard. “Especially my interior tackles. They get after it and it showed, allowing only seven points. They are quiet, play hard, and just get after it week in and week out. We wanted to make the Falcons one dimensional tonight, make them throw the football, while stopping the run. I’d say we were successful.”
After the one-play drive, the defense forced a Falcon punt to set up Griner and the Steamroller. Clay, using runners Al Querious “Q” Ray, Griner, Gavin Rossow, and sprinkled in Jaden Bryan and Jarvis Lee to keep the Falcons guessing. Clay powerhouse Q Ray would pull a ton of work gaining 211 yards on 17 carries with one a 68-yarder, running in the second score at 7:40. The 211 was Ray’s second straight 200-plus yard rushing total with a third in game one at 199 yards.
On the night, kicker Reece Paradise was perfect, splitting the uprights on seven consecutive point after kicks.
After the 14-0 lead, the Blue Devils had their only allowed points as the Falcons drove for a first down, and ran a quick snap to quarterback King Benford. Benford taught the Blue Devils to not let their guard down as he zipped through a hole, going 47 yards, 14-7.
On Clay’s return drive, it was Waugh running the kickoff deep to give the Devils great field position. Cue up a steady diet of Q, a pass to William Kendrick for a nice gain, back to Q, and capped off by an amazing catch by Albert Carawan fading in the corner of the endzone, the climbing the ladder to get above his defender for a spectacular catch to put Clay up 21-7.
Menendez was forced to punt at midfield as the Clay defense again shut down the Falcon attack. As the second quarter rolled, Clay would use their punter for the one time all evening when the Devils suffered back-to-back incomplete passes. The Falcons were stymied again and punted with a fourth and 21.
As the Devils were driving the steamroller on the counter, Ray was dragged down by his face mask. The Falcons were penalized and Kennard wanted to pull Ray out for a breather.
“I motioned to take him out, and he waived me off,” said Kennard. “I saw the look in his eye. When he gets it, you let him go. That next play, you see why.”
As Ray took the ball from Griner, he powered past the first defender with a stiff arm, then lowered his shoulder on a second, flipping him backwards, and as the third defender caught him, Ray did a pivot move, switched the ball to his other arm, then threw the defender to the side as he barreled in for the fourth score, 28-7.
“Q is a whole different person than he was last year” said Griner of his backfield wingman. “Last year, he may run out of bounds. This year, he is making a statement- he’s the Dude! He’s the Big Dog.”
The ensuing drive for Menendez ended with a fumble recovery by Clay and a touchdown jaunt by Rossow to put the game at 35-7.
Another red zone fumble picked up by Caleb Hutchinson paved the way to the Falcon eight yard line where Griner found Waugh in the corner of the endzone to go up 42-7.
Rossow would put the game away with six minutes to go with his second score of the night.
“This was a total team effort” said Kennard. “It is all about a “us” win, a team win. It doesn’t matter who, as long as we get ours. Our Defense bent and never broke all night. We just need to clean up the penalties and mental mistakes and I like where we are at.”