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Clay High Blue Devils showcase new faces

By Ray DiMonda Correspondent
Posted 6/1/22

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay Blue Devils Football Coach Kyle Kennard held his version of open mic night as no one on the squad was yet locked into any position for the upcoming 2022-2023 Football …

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Clay High Blue Devils showcase new faces


GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay Blue Devils Football Coach Kyle Kennard held his version of open mic night as no one on the squad was yet locked into any position for the upcoming 2022-2023 Football season. Kennard was so excited in the moment; I nearly needed a lasso to slow him down for a quick pre-game comment.

“We are looking to get on the field and try to execute on offense, get lined up on defense, run to the ball, and just try to do all the little things right that we’ve been preaching all spring long,” said Kennard. “We have a whole bunch of new kids out here, new positions, and whole different football team than you’ve seen in the past, a lot of new guys, new faces and we’re excited to come out and show everybody what we’ve been working on for the last month. We preach competition every day and you have to compete.”

Overall, the Blue Devils looked ready to take on the visiting Ponte Vedra Sharks, a game Clay dominated last spring in the Sharks backyard. This year, the Sharks had the upper hand with many returning juniors, and Clay not quite in a rebuild year, but needing to have vacancies filled with so many seniors moving on.

Offensively, quarterback Merrick Rapoza learned very quickly, he didn’t have the time to release the ball that he enjoyed in practice. Once the sophomore got the timing down, which he picked up quickly, things turned around and Clay moved the ball down the field. His favorite passing targets seemed to be senior Jarvis Lee and sophomore Jaden Paulk. Both receivers played some defensive back as well and showed some great view of the field. Complimenting the receiving corps was junior tight end Bowen Tashjian showing not only great hands when going up for the ball but turning up field and taking on defenders like a bowling ball to the pins.

Sophomore Chandler Thomas looked to be the running back work horse, able to take on Sharks head-to-head and make yards when needed. Sophomore Payton Dykas complimented Thomas in the running game, with Thomas showing he can be a stout lead blocker. Other noted blockers were freshman Cody Mobley who blew up holes a truck could drive through. Freshman Jason Goflin also had notable size to go along with great agility to lead block and help move the ball.

As mentioned, Paulk and Roberts took a crack at defensive back, and more practice would help correct the assignment woes Clay faced several times as they gave up a few too many deep passes. Jarvis Lee also contributed to the defensive backfield and had a picked off pass and added running yards before the Shark Offense could swarm and stop the runback.

Talking run backs, on special teams, Payton Dykas showed great awareness during kickoffs and punts with no fair catches, and every runback with positive yardage.

Overall, the Clay Crazies seem to have a lot to get excited about over the summer as the team will get stronger and bigger over the summer as there is no off season. Come fall, the Blue Devils look to field a well-rounded team that with some experience, will be ready to show the pride of Blue Devil Football.


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