Green’s ‘Gravediggers’

Retired Raider football coach inducted into FHSAA Hall of Fame

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 5/6/20

ORANGE PARK - With over four decades spent devoted to coaching high school football, Daniel Green was inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020, according to an FHSAA …

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Green’s ‘Gravediggers’

Retired Raider football coach inducted into FHSAA Hall of Fame

Posted

ORANGE PARK - With over four decades spent devoted to coaching high school football, Daniel Green was inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2020, according to an FHSAA release.

Green came to Orange Park High School for the 2008 season and immediately put winning back on the map for the Raiders who had suffered through a Ted Leasor-led 1-9 season in 2007. Green finished four seasons with a 30-10 record with season finishes of 10-3, 10-1 and 9-6 and 3-7 before leaving to coach at Bradford County High.

With an Orange Park High roster chock full of hungry talent; Demetre Baker (U of Georgia/South Alabama), Estevan Cintron (Charleston Southern), the vaunted Gravediggers offensive line led by Lance Henning, O’Brien Abner, Matt Garcia (Florida Tech), John Cassman and Cody Allen, with quarterback Andrew Denton (U.S. Army), pass catchers Antonio Thomas, Jacob Hagen (Liberty U, NFL) and linebacker Terrance Plummer (U Central Florida/NFL/CFL) opened with three wins to jet-start the Raider season before a 12-2 loss to Robert E. Lee stymied the bone-crushing Wing-T run strong offense.

“That bunch of guys was going to win no matter who came in,” said Robert Garcia, an 18 year veteran on the Orange Park football sideline. “Danny was a great fit and put together a great coaching staff that all worked well together.”

From there, Green rattled off dominating wins over Buchholz, Columbia, Fleming Island and Ponte Vedra to jolt the Raider fan base before a 23-14 loss to Gainesville, a district 3-5A foe, screeched the brakes, nonetheless with the Raiders still getting a region playoff berth.

First up was Pine Ridge, a 27-7 win in the first playoff game for the Raiders since 1992.

Against Pine Ridge, from a Clay Today article on Nov. 26, 2008, titled “Raiders offensive line digs holes, the Orange Park Raiders aptly named “Gravediggers” and “Junkyard Dogs” took control and brought home a decisive 27-7 region 1-5A win over Pine Forest (Deltona) High School.

“As a coach, you are always looking for that five-man combination of offensive linemen that can come together and take over the line of scrimmage,” said Green, who was now set to face an 11-0 Daytona Beach Mainland team in Daytona Beach in the second round. Mainland beat district champion Buchholz 44-0 in their region game.

Against Pine Ridge, fullback Albrey Felder (U.S. Naval Academy FB) popped a 52 yard run to set up a five yard touchdown run by Baker to put the Raiders on top quickly.

Baker would score again from 10 yards for a 14-0 lead prior to the halftime break.

In the third, Thomas would intercept a pass on the Raider one yard line to squash a Pine Ridge threat and Green’s offensive; behind a 50 yard scamper by Baker, would score on a 30 yard run from C.J. Stallworth (U Charleston) to all but end the game.

Felder sealed the game with a 34 yard fourth quarter run.

Against the top-ranked Mainland Buccaneers, a 50 yard scoring pass from Denton to Cintron spelled major upset for the Raiders in the 21-20 thriller.

“I know I’ve said it before, but these guys never gave up,” said Green, after the game put Orange Park into a home region final in a week. Cintron has always been a big play player for us and he did just that.”

In the first half, Felder caught a 38 yard scoring pass from Denton with Stallworth scoring from a yard out in the third to tie the game at 14-14.

In the region final against the 12-0 Pine Forest Eagles, Orange Park fell prey to two scores off turnovers to lose 33-7.

In 2009, with nearly all of his region final team returning, Green encored with a 10-1 season that ended with an 10-0 unbeaten regular season, but a tragic 46-0 region playoff loss to eventual state runnerup Deland, 9-1 in regular season play with a loss to Mainland and a finals loss to Miramar High.

Green is the winningest coach in the history of Baker County High School, racking up 89 wins in 12 years. He brought the first district championship title to the school and was inducted into the Baker County Sports Hall of Fame.

Green also coached at Haines City High School with 20 wins in two seasons with a state runnerup finish and the 1991 Florida 3A coach of the year’

From there, Green spent 12 years at Columbia High with 109 wins, 11 state playoff games, one state runnerup and one state semifinal finish. Green was Florida coach of the year in 1997 and 4A coach of year in 2003 with Columbia.

Green then had the opportunity to turn around the football program at Orange Park High School where he made it to the third round of the FHSAA playoffs in his first season and were crowned District Champions for three consecutive years. Green was named Jaguars All North Florida Coach of the Year and 5A State of Florida Coach of the Year Runner-up while at Orange Park.

While known for being a prominent football coach, Green also dominated as a weightlifting and track and field coach as well. Green won two FHSAA Weightlifting State Championships and held a record of 63-6 over ten years. He also clenched a 30-4 record over his four years as a track and field coach, with an 81-winning percentage. Green has spoken at several clinics over the years, including multiple Nike Clinics and Florida State University Spring Clinic, and has coached in All-Star games featuring Florida versus California and Florida versus Georgia. He has also seen over 85 of his student-athletes receive athletic scholarships.

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