Who’s In, Who’s Out?

Clay Today Sports
Posted 10/27/21

Football playoffs loom in a few weeks with two clear selections; Clay and Keystone Heights, for playoff contention so far and two more with still a possibility; Fleming Island and Oakleaf.ClayClay …

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Who’s In, Who’s Out?

Posted

Football playoffs loom in a few weeks with two clear selections; Clay and Keystone Heights, for playoff contention so far and two more with still a possibility; Fleming Island and Oakleaf.

Clay
Clay will be playing at North Marion for the district 3-5A championship for coach Kyle Kennard and a top spot in the region for home court advantage for the Blue Devils.

Keystone Heights
Keystone Heights is undefeated and still steamrolling opponents with a winless Stanton Prep team the next victim.

Oakleaf & FLeming Island
Oakleaf and Fleming Island have fingers crossed for some outside help, but finishing against each other next week could be the finale for both teams if the moons don’t align
Middleburg losing to Clay was not a district game, but the luster of the thrilling finish could propel the Broncos to final wins over Ridgeview and Yulee.
Orange Park needs a shot in the arm to boost morale with Englewood Friday and a clash with Clay as the finale. Macpherson has some street cred in upsets with a finale with Clay a good time to exorcise some demons.

Oct. 29


Fleming Island (5-3) vs. Nease (5-3)
District 3-7A game
Fleming Island vs. Nease is prelude to Oakleaf showdown. Golden Eagles got upset win over strong Atlantic Coast team in final effort to steal a playoff spot. Fleming Island needs some help though with a loss to Fletcher against Ponte Vedra a big help.
Fleming Island and Nease are locked at 3-1 in the district behind Fletcher’s 3-0 slate with all three teams at 5-3. Fletcher takes on Ponte Vedra (0-3), but vastly improved from the season opening loss to Nease (14-7) and capable of taking down Fletcher. Ponte Vedra has been in championship games and a knock on Fletcher could be a season maker.
What Fleming Island can look forward to is a slightly irritated Oakleaf High team that may have lost their playoff hopes with loss to Bartram Trail and Friday game against solid Creekside game. Fleming Island will need solid show here to bounce into Oakleaf game.

Oakleaf (4-4) at Creekside (6-2)
District 1-8A game

Oakleaf cant’ hiccup after “upset” (Note: Loss to, missed that one) over Bartram Trail against strong Creekside with Fleming Island on the horizon. Garis will need playoff momentum in a must-win scenario for Creekside (6-2) district game with Bartram Trail now at 3-0 in district play, Creekside at 1-1 and Oakleaf and Mandarin both a 1-2. A win at Creekside combined with Oakleaf’s tortuous schedule for playoff points and a Mandarin loss to Fletcher would help. Mandarin lost last week 30-0 to Sandalwood. Sandalwood, whom Oakleaf beat 28-27, upsetting Bartram Trail would really jumble the cards.
As of Monday, there were 12 teams above Oakleaf from region 1-4A. Oakleaf is ranked 192 statewide in the RPI playoff ranks. For the playoffs, there are eight teams from each region that advance to the region playoffs; four district champions and four at large teams per district; 32 teams per class.

Middleburg (4-4) at Ridgeview (1-7)

Middleburg at Ridgeview could be for Blanding Blvd. bragging rights. Middleburg fell short of the goal line with nine seconds to lose to Clay. Ridgeview still reeling with injury bug, lost to Gainesville 49-7; 35-7 at the half.

Clay (6-2) at North Marion (5-3)
District 4-5A game

Clay at North Marion (5-3) a new regular season opponent for Blue Devils and a district title on the line; solid program over the years at North Marion. Clay beat North Marion a few years ago in a region semifinal championship win; 65-58, at Clay in 2015 as Clay finished as a Final Four team. That 2015 game featured Clay running back Bilal Ally breaking the state playoff rush record with a 496 yard rush effort with five scores; 73, 75 and 78 yarders included and included a 92 yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff. Ally went on to a four year stint at the University of Massachusetts.
So, maybe North Marion still holds a grudge. Either way, coach Kyle Kennard knows a bit about winning big games over his career. His tight win over Middleburg last week showed some goal-line grit, but the Blue Devils offensive production was zero points in the second half against the Broncos.
North Marion, a state runnerup in 2018, has losses to 5A-(5-2) Dunnellon (12-9, beat North Marion in region quarters last year, lost in state semifinal), 8A-(5-2, region finalist last two years) Vero Beach (40-15) and 6A-unbeaten (8-0, beat Clay in region semifinal last year, lost to Dunnellon in region final) Ocala Vanguard (36-19) all state powerhouse programs.
Clay’s most notable games this season are a win over 7A-Fleming Island (21-14) and a loss to 8A-Oakleaf (33-27).

Orange Park (2-6) at Englewood (4-4), good chance to fine tune engine for Clay clash following week. Englewood, 2-7 last year, much improved under second year coach Zach Harbison. Could Macpherson get a second big upset of Clay? Hoesktra is still seething.

Keystone Heights (8-0) has cruiser at Stanton (0-8).

Thurs., Oct. 28
Keystone Heights (8-0) at Stanton Prep (0-8). Might be 100-0 with 5,000 yards rushing by Four Horsemen.JK

Fri., Oct. 29
Clay at North Marion
Middleburg at Ridgeview
Nease at Fleming Island
Oakleaf at Creekside
Orange Park at Englewood
SJCDS Playoffs

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