FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High School named its football stadium after the late Randy Warren and the Golden Eagles tuned up for the regular season with a 42-6 victory over visiting Westside on …
FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High School named its football stadium after the late Randy Warren and the Golden Eagles tuned up for the regular season with a 42-6 victory over visiting Westside on Fri., Aug. 19 in their preseason classic.
Dozens of Warren’s friends and family were on hand for the pre-game ceremony, at which the stadium unofficially called “The Rock” was named “Randy Warren Stadium” after the man who had served as Fleming Island’s Athletic Director from the opening of the school in 2003 until he retired in 2018. Warren, who passed away suddenly in 2019, enjoyed a 30-year teaching and coaching career, leaving an enduring legacy at two schools. The testimonials inside a waiting room prior to the pre-game naming ceremony flowed easily for a man renowned for his selflessness.
“Randy loved all the kids. On his own time, he would take the kids in need and tutor them,’ said former Fleming Island Vice Principal Danny Finley, who worked with Warren during Warren’s 15 years at Orange Park High School and later at Fleming Island. “He got a lot of kids to graduation and to college that way.”
Fleming Island athletic director Travis Cunningham spent two lifetimes with Warren as a high school athlete and as a coach with Warren in charge.
“He had a huge impact on the students, and on everyone he met,” said Cunningham, who was coached by Warren as a football player at Orange Park. “He went out of his way for everybody.”
Fleming Island High principal Thomas Pittman had Warren as his mentor prior becoming the top guy at Fleming Island.
“He deserves it,” said Fleming Island Principal Thomas Pittman, whom Warren mentored when Pittman was a young teacher at Orange Park High School. “He loved his job and was very good at it, but what he loved the most was his family and his wife, Ann.”
Warren’s family was appreciative.
“It is very emotional, and heart-warming,” said Cindy Warren, Warren’s older sister. “It is wonderful to see that they thought that much of him, and of course we [his family members] do, too.”
“We could not go anywhere without a server or a waitress recognizing him and thanking him,” said Chris Warren, Randy’s younger brother. “To me, he was my goofy brother, but I had no idea how many lives he touched.”
On the field, the Golden Eagles showed why hopes are high for the coming season, scoring on their first three possessions and never looking back. Playing three quarters, sophomore quarterback Cibastian Broughton threw for three touchdowns while completing eight of 11 passes for 136 yards with no interceptions.
“Getting big plays from the passing game would be great,” said Fleming Island head coach Damenyum Springs, who knows that three-year starting running back Sam Singleton will spearhead a potent ground game. “Then teams cannot load the box, and we can pound the rock.”
Broughton’s statistics were all the more impressive, considering that top receivers Darion Domineck, Brendan Cook and Devaen Boykin did not play. Without his outside threats, Broughton turned to tight end Dakota Rowe, who led Fleming Island receivers with three receptions for 55 yards. Broughton found Rowe on the right side for 17 yards to set up a six yard scoring run by Musthafa Marshall on the Golden Eagles’ opening possession, and connected with him again on Fleming’s next series for a 31-yard touchdown.
Broughton’s third touchdown toss was a strike over the middle to Trace Burney from eight yards out. Springs believes Burney, along with fellow freshman receiver Sebastian Cruz, could be regular contributors this season.
The Fleming Island defense, which returns eight starters, was aggressive and fast, forcing three turnovers and allowing only 20 rushing yards on 16 attempts. Westside did not get a first down until midway through the second quarter. The only blemish was a 64 yard march allowed just before halftime. Wolverines receiver Rasir Green hauled in consecutive tipped passes that netted 36 yards, and then Antwon McCrae plucked a sideline pass from quarterback Heyward Smith, Jr., out of the air for a 35 yard touchdown to cut Fleming Island’s lead to 21-6 heading into the intermission.
The secondary, which sports sophomores Kaylib Singleton and David Smith, is an area that will be of some concern. Singleton had a kneeling interception in the quarter that led to Rowe’s score, and later saved a touchdown by catching Westside’s McCrae from behind at the Fleming 12 yard line after a 66 yard gain.
Sam Singleton was also held out of the game for the Golden Eagles, so fellow senior Musthafa Marshall started and gained 36 yards on nine carries. Marshall capped the game’s opening drive with a six yard touchdown run and took a swing pass from Broughton 67 yards for a score on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Back-up running backs Tay’Shaun Smith and Tyler Beverly looked good, each rushing for over 50 yards and a touchdown. Smith went around the right side from two yards out for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and Beverly broke two tackles on a 31 yard jaunt to close out the scoring.
Golden Eagles outside linebacker Jhace Edward blocked a Westside field goal attempt in the second quarter and blocked a punt that went out of the end zone for a safety in the third quarter. Inside linebacker Tyler Williams intercepted a Smith pass in the second quarter.
Springs believes that in order for the Golden Eagles to match their run to the Class 7A Regional Final from last year, they must stay healthy and play together as a team. Fleming Island opens its season at Clay on August 26.
“Clay has good coaches so we will have to play smart,” he said. “We have got to pick up what they are doing early, and then play assignment football.”
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