OAKLEAF – With the flick of a defensive end’s wrist, the Clay County football season crashed to a fall of near-misses and maybe next years with many teams “almost” fulfilling the dreams from …
OAKLEAF – With the flick of a defensive end’s wrist, the Clay County football season crashed to a fall of near-misses and maybe next years with many teams “almost” fulfilling the dreams from 2017.
That being said, the Clay Today SUPER 11 team highlights the players that had immediate and sustained impact for their respective teams as the season progressed to the point of just one Clay County team making the region playoffs; most notably Clay’s Joshua Hoekstra, with three playoff teams on the ropes in regular season play, out after a string of five in the last six years.
Among the almosts; Orange Park Tom Macpherson, who, in past years, won the right games to get in and, despite upsetting Clay, missed on the big ones; Ridgeview’s Cameron Porch, who added excruciating injuries to the wrong guys reversing an expected big season that ended with some playoff-bound upsets; Fleming Island’s Damenyum Springs, who had an encore possibility, but, with defenses key to championships, lost three huge players; one in a college bowl, the other in a national championship, and Keystone Heights, who played arguably the broken- knuckle hardest schedule for 2018 with just 22 players.
Middleburg, on paper, was set to reverse 2017, but that didn’t happen. St. Johns Country Day, with a new coach, had a, also arguable, successful season with promise to that future.
Oakleaf, with coach Frank Garis’ brutal schedule of eventual 4A state champion and eventual 4A region finalist, eventual 6A region finalist, and eventual 5A state semifinalist, scored a ton of points (435), but also gave up a ton of points (410).
Note: Defense wins championships.
SUPER 11 Football
1. Keshawn King, RB, No. 4, Senior Oakleaf
King was the master of disaster for first year coach Frank Garis as the focal point of an offense that could put quick points on the board with King’s explosive slash and dash style. King finished with 2,017yards rushing on 249 carries with astounding 30 touchdowns. King, heading to Virginia Tech University, had five games with 200-plus yards; nine of 100-plus and just two under 100; 42 against Orange Park and 76 against Raines, with a season-ending 259 yards in the Knights’ playoff game against Tallahassee Lincoln.
In 2017, King rushed for 1,427 with 20 scores with his three years at Oakleaf totalling 4,834 with 71 scores; just two games in freshman year.
Amazingly, King had just one fumbled ball in 2018; against Lincoln.
King also had a 90 yard kickoff return touchdown against Glades Central in August.
2. Sean Washington, WR, No. 9, Junior, Oakleaf
Washington was prime target for quarterback Walter Simmons at Oakleaf with 56 catches for 862 yards and six scores with a 79 yard his best of the year.
Washington’s best games were a nine catch night against Bartram Trail in that 69-53 offensive bonanza and an eight catch night against Fleming Island with two scores.
Washington was part of a two-player threat with teammate Terrance Anthony, a sophomore, also snagging 46 catches from the Garis offensive package.
3. Aaron Ramirez, RB, Senior, No. 5, Fleming Island
Ramirez was a late bloomer, starting in game five, for the Golden Eagles with injuries negating predicted starter Dewayne McBride to limited duty. In the same fashion as University of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, Ramirez stepped in and stepped up to becoming the main ball carrying threat for coach Damenyum Springs with 1155 yards and 14 touchdowns. Ramirez’ speed and power were instrumental, but it was more his readiness to battle that pushed him up the lists of top ballcarriers for Clay County.
4. Nick Channell, RB, Junior, No. 3, Keystone Heights
Within the Keystone Heights football folklore is a tradition of hard-nosed running backs that crash for an extra two, three, four yards on every carry. Channell, who executed against six high-quality playoff teams; P.K. Yonge (region semifinal); The Villages (region finalist); Bradford County (region quarterfinalist), Hawthorne (1A Final Four), Crescent City (1A region semifinalist) and Wildwood (1A region semifinalist), pounded for 1,048 yards in just eight games (Injured last two) with 10 touchdowns. Alongside Channell, wingman Ty Friedlin ran with the same physicality for 909 yards and 11 touchdowns that made the Indians ground game a solid battering ram forward.
5. Dan Dodd, OL/DL, Senior, No. 66, Keystone Heights
In an offensive scheme that barely threw the ball, but simply challenged defenses to stop them, big Dan Dodd was the anchor on a seasoned offensive line that pounded front lines to the tune of two running backs near the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Dodd, who recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, also was on the defensive line (26 tackles) for most of many games with wingman Joey Baxter and strongman Josh Hughes his compadres in the crush up front. Hughes was also top tackler for the Indians with 76 stops and five sacks with Andrew Cox and Colton Crane both topping 60 tackles each.
6. Kendy Charles, DE, No. 9, Junior, Orange Park
Kendy Charles was the glue for the fast-striking Raiders defense with his charges from the outside getting 55 tackles and nine sacks with a career night in an upset of Clay High his highlight film game of the season. Charles had 11 tackles for losses, an interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Offenses went away from Charles most times, but he still found the ball. That’s stellar.
Charles was also a part of coach Tom Macpherson’s big-man offensive package and led all-everything weapon Terrance Johnson to many of his 12 rush touchdowns from the Wildcat formation.
7. Terrance Johnson, Athlete, No. 5, Senior, Orange Park
Terrance Johnson was the one guy that every team had to worry about where he was on the offensive side of the ball. Johnson lined up as a wide out (34 catches, 699 Yds., 3TDs) and as a Wildcat QB/RB (65 carries, 418 Yds., 12 TDs). Johnson had two 100-plus rush games with three scores twice. Johnson even threw passes.
Johnson’s high catch game was against Oakleaf with eight snags for 200 yards.
8. Braden Ammon, Kicker, No. 86, Senior, Oakleaf
When a kicker is a weapon is when the defense gets starts from the 25 yard line and Ammon’s leg gave the Oakleaf defense 33 touchbacks off 61 kickoffs off touchdowns and a handful more off coin tosses.
That being said, Ammon was 46 of 54 on extra points and five of eight on field goals which was second in success fate to Ridgeview’s Matt Koziolek’s seven of 10 field goals.
9. Jalen Rivers, OL, Junior, No. 54, Oakleaf
If you got a guy going for 2,000-plus yards on the ground and a guy with 56 pass catches and a quarterback that has 2,100-plus yards in the air, there is some big dude blocking the snot out of people up front. Jalen Rivers is one big dude up front and, with teammates Seger McKisick and King Solomon, King could run and Simmons stayed vertical.
10. Sam Snyder, Senior, TE, No. 15, Fleming Island
Sam Snyder transitioned back from an offensive tackle last year to his more natural tight end slot this year and responded with numerous big play catch and runs for the Golden Eagle offense that threw further out, but hit Snyder in front of the safety for the big plays that kept drives moving. Snyder finished with 18 catches and six scores while sharing pass catching duties with Max Michaels who snagged 14 when he set up as a tight end. Michaels also had six scores. Snyder, with 4.6 40 speed, also lined up as a wide out and was strong over the middle with his height and strength ability to break tackles and extend plays; twice against Bartram Trail.
11. Walter Simmons, Jr., QB, Sophomore, No. 12, Oakleaf
Walter Simmons did as a sophomore as most quarterbacks would be expected to do as a senior, especially with a new coach coming in to revamp a stagnant offense to one of the more explosive and dynamic ones in the state. It’s nice to have one of the top running backs behind him in KeShawn King, but Simmons was adept with his weaponry with 2,187 yards passing with 18 scores against 10 interceptions. Four of those interceptions came in two games; Fleming Island and Ocala Vanguard while Simmons hit for four scores twice; against Clay and against Vanguard, who lost in the 6A region round of playoffs. Ten interceptions against 287 throws and two receivers with over 100 catches; 56 and 46 from Sean Washington and 46 from Terrence Anthony is not a bad deal.