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Foy ‘overwhelmed’ by Knight Nation

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 4/27/23

OAKLEAF - Oakleaf High’s latest football coach, Chris Foy, a recent district title coach at Andrew Jackson and a former Fletcher coach that has ties to Oakleaf from years ago (we’ll get to that), …

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Foy ‘overwhelmed’ by Knight Nation


Posted

OAKLEAF - Oakleaf High’s latest football coach, Chris Foy, a recent district title coach at Andrew Jackson and a former Fletcher coach that has ties to Oakleaf from years ago (we’ll get to that), has been most impressed since arriving in January with the Oakleaf football community.

“We recently had a youth football camp here and, tell you the truth, it was a little breathtaking to see almost 150 athletes here from 6-16 years old with the parents filling the stands and a bunch of former Oakleaf players, including NFL Jaguars’ linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, an Oakleaf grad, on hand,” said Foy, 50 years old, married and with four children; one to be an Oakleaf running back, Chris Foy, II. “One thing that happened during the camp was the group broke away from the skills groups; eight of them, and conditioned. I’ve never seen a camp do that.”

Foy’s take away from the camp was more than football.

“There may have been kids there that came with little football skill, but, I tell you, not a single kid out there that did not work,” said Foy. “That conditioning break was not because they did something wrong, but because that’s just what they did.”

Foy, who took over for former coach Marcus Miller, the Oakleaf athletic director who stepped in as interim coach when Frank Garis walked away from the program, has a storied history of coaching among uber competitive programs.

“I was on the Fletcher coaching staff when Chipoletti (former Oakleaf coach Derek Chipoletti) beat us twice; one in the season, then in the playoffs,” said Foy, an offensive center as a high schooler at Andrew Jackson High in Jacksonville, then a multi-position player in college. “Let’s not talk about that, LOL, I was on the other side.”

In that epic 2014 season, Chipoletti, now a new defensive coach at Fleming Island High for the upcoming season after a hiatus from football, guided Oakleaf to a historic 10-0 regular season, a district championship, three home playoff games as the top seed. In that reign, Oakleaf beat Fletcher 28-7 in regular season play, then beat Fletcher 28-14 in the region semifinal before losing 35-0 to Niceville in the region final.

“What Oakleaf had on that team, not just guys like Quarterman and his guys, is that they loved each other and played together since Pop Warner,” said Foy. “When they came to Fletcher in the season, we had our big running back get hit by Quarterman and Quarterman made him pass out twice. Colleges came to the game to see our guy and Quarterman got a bunch of offers and he was just a sophomore.”

Foy wound up playing college ball at Fayetteville State in North Carolina where he was a multi-position player.

“Just don’t put me in a position that touches the ball,” said Foy. “I was terrible around the ball, but I could hike it was my only value in a ball position.”

Foy’s one memory of college ball was a 6’8” inch, 320 pound Elizabeth State lineman named Everett McGiver, who played for the NFL Dallas Cowboys.

“His claim to fame in the NFL was getting hit by a scissor thrown by Cowboy wide receiver Michael Irvin on the sideline and hitting a guy; Everett,” said Foy. “He big and a very good player.”

Foy, a after a tenure as coach at Landmark Middle School, wound up at Fletcher for six years through some strong seasons, then back home at Andrew Jackson the past three years he rebuilt his home program from the ground up to win two district titles; their first since 2010.

Foy finished at 8-3 last year at Jackson with an historic come-from-behind district title win over Raines High and 7-4 the previous year with district title win over Ribault before losing in regions to Gadsden County. Jackson, as number one seed in 2022, lost to Riverside in their region opener.

As for football, Foy likes his big offensive lines and his power football.

“With the size of the offensive line here, we will run power football,” said Foy. “Absolutely, you run the ball and stop the run, you win the game.”

Foy liked the way Keystone Heights High had big, strong offensive linemen and big tough running backs in their 10-0 season a few years ago.

“That was a good season for them,” said Foy. “It was fun to watch teams try to stop just basic, power football. Their biggest pass was that handoff.”

On defense, Foy likes a 4-2-5 format with his linebackers the “spears” on the attack.

“My linebackers are the attack point and my secondary is the bandaid,” said Foy. “I don’t touch the safety. As long as we got real estate, he’s the last guy.”

Foy will open on May 1 for the spring football phase of the school, but for now, the players are building a weightlifting room of sorts under the stadium bleachers.

“It might rain, it might get hot, but it’s developing mental toughness,” said Foy. “If you really want to play here, this is what you do. And these kids are showing up.”