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Memorable stories of the year July-Dec. 2022

Posted 12/28/22

JulyClay County schools earn an ‘A’ from stateCLAY COUNTY – The School District notched an A grade, with about 85% of schools hitting A or B grades for the 2021-2022 school year, …

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Memorable stories of the year July-Dec. 2022



Clay County schools earn an ‘A’ from state

CLAY COUNTY – The School District notched an A grade, with about 85% of schools hitting A or B grades for the 2021-2022 school year, with some subject test scores being ranked in the Top-5 in the state.
Excluding 2021, where reporting was optional and was declined by 56 of the state’s 67 districts, Clay County has had seven A rankings and four B rankings since 2010. The A grade from 2021-2022 school year maintains the A grades from the school years beginning in 2019 and 2018.
Grades, their reporting and their release have been marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Superintendent David Broskie.
“We are so excited about our A ranking,” Broskie said. “That shows the strength and resiliency of Clay County District Schools.”
The state doesn’t have overall rankings of districts listed on its website or from various spreadsheets documenting scores. However, numerous reputable academic websites list Clay among the Top-10 districts in the state.
The county is one of 14 districts to achieve the A ranking last school year. The district also did not have D or F schools. The district had 11 schools drop a grade level from their 2019 scores, most from A to B.
Two schools, Plantation Oaks Elementary and Lake Asbury Elementary increased from a B to an A, with Montclair Elementary jumping from a C to a B. After consecutive D grades in 2018 and in 2019, Charles E. Bennett Elementary achieved a C grade for the second year in a row.
Overall, the district posted 18 A grades, 17 B grades and six Cs.
“The district’s grade is calculated as if the district’s students are enrolled in one large combination school,” according to the state Department of Education. “All students who are full-year enrolled in the district will be included in the district’s grade.”

Lakeside’s Melissa Matz selected Florida Teacher of the Year

CLAY COUNTY – Five teachers held hands on stage at the Gaylord Palms Resort for the state Teacher of the Year awards as they waited to hear who would be selected the top instructor in Florida.
When state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. called the winner and the balloons cascaded down, Melissa Matz put her hands to her face.
Matz, a Lakeside Junior High seventh-grade math teacher, was selected as the state’s 2021-22 Teacher of the Year. There are 185,000 teachers in the state.
Matz was joined by finalists teachers from Gilchrist, Manatee, Sarasota and Broward counties. The five teachers spent several days together and remained in contact before the ceremony.
“It built this amazing bond a month before the announcement. We all wanted each other to win,” Matz said. “That was the best part, we all had faith in each other. On the stage, we said we’d be happy no matter what.”
Now, Matz has to fulfill the functions of a Teacher of the Year. She will take a sabbatical for the upcoming school year to serve as the state’s Christa McAuliffe Ambassador of Education. The role varies from visiting classrooms to being a keynote speaker.
From speaking to other teachers, Matz said they face the same challenges and there is so much to learn.
“The year is going to look very different for me, but to be able to connect and unite and listen to success stories from teachers and students throughout the state, that is what I’m most excited about,” Matz said.
Each finalist was provided a $15,000 bonus by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said the state’s teachers go above and beyond. On Twitter, he thanked Matz for her commitment to quality education and her work as a role model.
“It was great to join some amazing teachers today and to show our appreciation for their hard work and sacrifice,” DeSantis said in a press release. “We will continue to invest in our schools and educators while putting policies in place that improve outcomes for students.”

Clay Chamber selects Clay Today Publisher Jon Cantrell as its president

CLAY COUNTY – The Board of Directors of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce selected Jon Cantrell as their new president. In this position, Cantrell will focus on helping businesses in Clay County and surrounding areas by meeting their needs and helping them answer questions and solve small and large issues that may arise.
Cantrell comes to the Chamber with many years of business experience in Clay County and with longstanding relationships, including serving as the Publisher for Clay Today for the past 25 years. Cantrell’s addition to the Chamber team will help Clay County businesses thrive and grow and his experience will bring new opportunities to Chamber members.
“Cantrell is a welcomed addition to the Chamber team. He has been a member of the Chamber for many years, has served on the Chamber board, and has volunteered countless hours to the community. We believe Cantrell will pave the way for new and exciting opportunities at the Chamber” said Chairman Randy Bowman.
The Chamber is a non-profit organization that supports and advocates for local businesses.
From educational programs for business owners and managers to networking opportunities like lunches, after-hours and events, the Clay Chamber is designed to help local businesses prosper and thrive.
“As thousands of families choose Clay to live, work and play now is the time to build upon our assets and quality of life in Clay County,” Cantrell said.
Cantrell was the chairman of the Florida Press Association, a board member of the YMCA and Salvation Army, and was the past President of the Orange Park Rotary Club.


Schools join law enforcement to establish unified plan to protect students

CLAY COUNTY – School officials and law enforcement laid out plans to keep Clay County schools safer from active shooters.
In July and August, every public school, as well as the larger private and charter schools, was fortified with fencing, single-access points and security cameras to minimize the risk of a school tragedy that has become all too common in the country.
The school district, school police department, members of the Clay County Sheriff’s, Fire Rescue and Emergency Management and the Green Cove Springs and Orange Park police departments met with the administrations to create an emergency response plan specific to the needs of each school.
“You know Clay County is a great place to live,” said Superintendent David Broskie. “It’s a great place to work, and it’s a great place for kids to go to school. There’s little doubt there’s no doubt about that. You know, one of our most sacred challenges is ensuring that all students are safe.”
After reviewing mass casualty attacks at schools like Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in 2018 and at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, Clay County officials said they worked to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each school.
“We started meeting about a month ago to discuss school safety and the importance of school safety, and what are our plans moving forward? To the parents that are out there? Let me just say this, I promise you we’re going to keep your kids safe – law enforcement, fire rescue emergency management and school administration,” Sheriff Michelle Cook said. “We have all been working together and will continue to work together to keep our kids safe. I am committed to our kids and I’m committed to their safety.”

Wilkinson becomes a UCF-Certified Community Partnership School

MIDDLEBURG – There were times when it was difficult for Shawn C. Smith to keep her composure when describing Wilkinson Junior High’s two-year mission to become one of the few UCF-Certified Community Partnership Schools.
Her voice cracked at times, but her smile was infectious. This was a big deal, and she knew it.
“Previously, schools were just the source of education,” she said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 5. “Now community partnerships, can be a source of change.”
Big change.
According to Central Florida, The UCF Center for Community Schools promotes community partnerships that include at least four core partners – a school district, a university or college, a community-based nonprofit and a healthcare provider.
For Wilkinson, it means students will have more tools to help break the cycle of poverty, hunger and a lack of opportunities.
Wilkinson’s partners included the Clay County District Schools, St. Johns River State College, Baptist Health, Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Children Home Society of Florida. Together, they intend to lift one of the poorest areas in Northeast Florida.

Skipper, Hanson unseat school board incumbents in Primary

CLAY COUNTY – The 2022 primary election saw two Clay County School District board members dethroned and two Republican primaries for county commissioner races were decided.
Of a possible 161,385 voters, approximately 40,835 ballots were counted, meaning the turnout was 25.3%. As for voting patterns, 17,837 ballots were cast on Election Day, 12,989 mail-in ballots were cast and 10,001 ballots were cast during early voting.
Incumbents Janice Kerekes and Tina Bullock were defeated by Erin Skipper and Michele Hanson, respectively. To win District 1’s seat, Skipper captured 54.6% of the vote to Kerekes’ 33.19%, with Charles Kirk securing 12.2% of more than 39,000 votes cast.
Skipper, who was endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, said she wasn’t expecting the win. Describing the feeling as overwhelming, Skipper estimated she knocked on at least 1,000 doors.
In District 4, Hanson’s 54.93% bested Bullock’s 45.07%. Bullock, a long-time district administrator who has served on the school board before, was seeking a second term against Hanson, a former teacher.
Hanson said she wanted to give people a voice and she felt a change was going to happen based on the people she talked with.
In the county’s District 4, Commissioner Betsy Condon secured a second four-year term with 64.62% of the vote, as she defeated Dale Carter, 35.38%, in a Republican primary. A Democrat candidate has not filed for the district.
Condon said she worked during the election but now has a chance to focus all her effort and attention on the work.
Alexandra Compere won the Republican primary in Oakleaf’s District 2, where incumbent Wayne Bolla is termed out. She earned 70.39% of the vote to candidate Rodney Herring’s 29.61%. She was to face Leroy Edwards in the General Election, but he withdrew.


CCSO, Post Office break up ‘Lucky 777’s’ drug trafficking ring

ORANGE PARK – The Clay County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Postal Service worked together to put two men behind bars and uncover a massive drug trafficking ring.
Jason Terril Setzer, 46, of Jacksonville, was charged with conspiracy to traffic more than 2,000 grams of fentanyl. Trafficking fentanyl, possession of marijuana and a firearm by a convicted felon and trafficking methamphetamine and fentanyl, and Alvin J.J. Mercado, 37, of Fleming Island, was charged with conspiracy to traffic fentanyl and trafficking fentanyl on Sept. 11 after investigators got a tip the two received large quantities of drugs through the mail. The arrests came after the CCSO SWAT and Narcotics Unit raided two homes on Sept. 10 and seized 30 firearms, as well as a large cache of drugs.
“We’ve been working on it since late June, early July,” Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook said. “We could have continued this investigation, but these guys were distributing so much. We had to pull them off the street because just in a couple of months they brought in enough fentanyl to kill four million people. And so we had to remove them as quickly as possible because they truly are a danger to society with that level of distribution.”
The arrests were part of a multi-agency, including federal, state and county agencies, investigation that started in June, Cook said. The case started with a traffic stop by the Florida Highway Patrol in Jacksonville and quickly grew in scope. The arrests were in conjunction with large seizures of cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamine in both Jacksonville and Nassau County. Less than a week before Setzer and Mercado were taken into custody, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office confiscated more than three kilos of fentanyl, more than one kilo of cocaine and 6,000 pills containing fentanyl.
According to two lengthy arrest reports, Setzer and Mercado received fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine from an address in California. Packages were sent to Setzer on William Paca Street in Orange Park and to Mercado at houses on Eagle Cove Drive and River Breeze Drive on Fleming Island.
According to the arrest report, bricks of the drugs were “broken down and then distributed.”
The drugs were sent to various locations in Northeast Florida and cash was mailed back to the same address in California, Cook said.
Both men are expected in court on Jan. 9.

Clay County Fair recognized for its picnic table, Sunflower Hours projects

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Tasha Hyder found a unique way to turn soon-to-be garbage into a community fundraiser when she invited local artists to put their artistic touches on old picnic tables at the Clay County Fairgrounds.
Not only were the tables spared from being crushed into sawdust, but their transformations also helped raise money to help 44 state charities.
That wasn’t lost on officials at the Florida Festivals and Events Association annual convention. The organization honored both the Clay County Agricultural Fair and the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach with its Community Impact Award.
Both fairs turned old picnic tables into money-generating pieces of art that raised a total of $200,000.
Clay also finished second in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for its Sunflower Hours Project where music and loud noises were muted to allow people with visible disabilities to participate in a morning of fun.
Artists were extremely creative with their designs. Sixteen tables were turned from splintered eyesores into art that was sold at auction during the 11-day fair. All the money was dispersed to area charities. Hyder said one table fetched $500.
The picnic table and Sunflower Hours will return next year, Hyder said.
“We have about 30-to-40 tables here, so we’re going to do it again,” she said. “And we’re going to expand our Sunflower Hours. We’re going to do it until we run out of tables.”

Ian’s unexpected turn takes Clay County out of its wrath

CLAY COUNTY – Residents brought in plants and outdoor furniture and trimmed trees. They fortified their homes with sandbags and stocked up on bottled water, diapers, gasoline and bread.
Shelters were opened and evacuations were ordered.
And just as Clay County dug in on Sept. 29 for what was supposed to be significant damage from Hurricane Ian, the massive storm made an immediate – and unexpected – hard turn to the left and passed to the south.
Ian didn’t follow any of the projected paths from the experts, proving again Mother Nature doesn’t pay attention to forecasts or expectations.
Clay County Director of Emergency Management John Ward was relieved the area was spared the brunt of a storm that rolled over and through Fort Myers as a Category 4 storm on Sept. 28.
Then came the challenge the reassure residents not to be dismissive of the next storm.
“Obviously, we had to change and pivot,” Ward said. “We have to be Super Gumby and always flexible. Last week was a perfect example. We ordered evacuations and opened shelters. I always tried to wait till I'm sure on that. Like I've said before, I've got about 23 hours that I've got to do it to execute to be effective. I was actually well inside that. I should have done it earlier but there was so much changing information that I was unsure.”
There were a few downed trees reported in the county and minor flooding near Doctors Inlet and Black Creek.
Keystone Heights prepared for the worse and prayed for the best. The rural area was a primary concern since many of the homes there are older and some of the infrastructures are lacking.
“It’s a weeklong preparation for the potential of a really bad storm and we are very grateful that it wasn’t a really bad storm, but we were ready if it would have been,” City Manager Lynn Rutkowski said.
The Clay County Schools District said all 52 schools were inspected and reopened for classes on Oct. 3.


Fair, CCSO organize massive relief effort for Hurricane Ian victims

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Residents of Southwest Florida were in desperate need of essential items following Hurricane Ian. So Clay County Fair Executive Director Tasha Hyder and Sheriff Michelle Cook organized Supply Drive Southwest Florida relief effort to collect essentials for designated areas that were in the storm’s path.
So much is needed, Hyder said, but she’s determined to send at least two tractor-trailer loads – with a sheriff’s office escort. By the time they finished the project, eight trucks were filled with supplies.
The collection drive started at the fairgrounds and continued as people want to give. At first, that meant days, but that quickly grew to a few weeks. Goods were being stored in a small warehouse behind the fair association's main office.
“I’m so happy with the outcome,” Hyder said. “We’ve collected $2,000 and lots of supplies (in the first two days). It made me happy to see the turnout. It was a very emotional day.”
Hyder was part of a group of fair operators formed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is called FairStrong and it is committed to helping neighbors.
“We're bringing it out with the hurricane because we are very strong,” Hyder said. “To our friends in Southwest Florida, the fair in Collier County, our event friends in Fort Myers community project, we're all coming together. They're telling us what they need and we're making it happen.”

Connelly-Eiswerth leads TEAM USA to Women’s PGA Cup victory

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. – Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth was disappointed following her opening round score of 7-over par 80 at the 2022 Women’s PGA Cup at Twin Warriors Golf Club.
Connelly-Eiswerth, a Teaching Professional from Fleming Island and a North Florida PGA Section Member, responded in a big way for the United States on both Friday and Saturday, as she was the team’s top performer during the second and third rounds.
She carded her second consecutive 3-under par 70 to help the United States (1-under par, 656) win the second Women’s PGA Cup by two strokes over Canada (1-over par, 658).
Great Britain/Ireland (662) finished in third place, followed by Australia (686) in fourth, Sweden (698) in fifth and South Africa (753) – playing in the PGA Cup for the first time – in sixth.
The Americans rallied after being down by five strokes to the Great Britain/Ireland team after the turn on the final day.
The U.S. has captured both Women’s PGA Cups after also winning the inaugural event in 2019 at Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas.
The United States Team began the third and final round with a one-shot lead against first-round leader Team Canada.
“Nobody panicked,” said PGA President and U.S. Captain Jim Richerson.
Connelly-Eiswerth’s par on the par-4, 395-yard 18th hole clinched the title. She was immediately mobbed by teammates as the celebration began.
“It’s everything and more,” said Connelly-Eiswerth. “I really wanted to qualify for this. To qualify and also to win it, it’s not just being here and being part of the team. You want to win with the team. It’s truly incredible.”

County embarks on program to treat CORE issues of opioid abuse

MIDDLEBURG – After a successful two-year test run in Palm Beach County, Florida’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery program (CORE) will soon expand to seven other counties, including Clay County.
State and local officials in the fight against opioid addiction, including Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the Florid Department of Children and Families Erica Floyd Thomas, program architect and Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke joined officials with the Clay County Health Department, Fire Rescue and Clay Behavior Tuesday to announce the revolutionary program that’s designed to offer resources to break the vicious cycle of addiction.
CORE is a comprehensive approach that expands overdose responses and treats the primary and secondary impacts of substance abuse disorder. Floridians battling with addiction can utilize CORE to receive medically assisted treatment that is specialized to sustain a clean pathway to success. CORE will be expanded in two phases. Phase one counties include Clay, Brevard, Duval, Escambia, Gulf, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, and Volusia counties.
Typically, when somebody overdoses, they’re taken to the nearest hospital and released once they are out of danger. Once CORE is operational, an overdose patient will be treated by EMTs and emergency response technicians who have training in substance abuse. They then will be transported to a medical facility that’s also equipped to deal with addictions, similar to someone who is taken to a trauma center.
Treatment will include a sustainable clinical pathway to sobriety, including a transfer to a multi-specialty medical group to start medication-assisted treatment.


Making splash at state swim meet: Two from Fleming Island win gold medals

STUART – Fleming Island High won two gold medals at the FHSAA state swimming and diving Class 3A championship with junior freestyler Maryn McDade successfully defending her 50 free state title and sophomore diver Ava Brinkman overcoming a horrific diving accident to earn a gold medal.
Brinkman, who as a freshman registered one of the top scores statewide in her district championships last year, had a diving accident in the week prior to regions that ended her spectacular climb as one of the top upcoming divers in Florida.
"It was definitely a surreal experience, especially with everything that I went through with the accident," Brickman said.
McDade earned Fleming Island a second state championship by winning the girl’s 50-yard freestyle. Overall, the Golden Eagles girls swimming team finished 13th overall.

County tourism hooks national kayak fishing series, tournaments

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Since there are no major amusement parks in Clay County, tourism officials decided to put the spotlight on one of its greatest assets to attract visitors – its expansive waterways.
The county entered an agreement with Kayak Bass Fishing and Airstream Ventures to create a year-long fishing tournament.
“We’re not trying to do this as a flash in the pan,” said Kayak Bass Fishing founder Chad Hoover. “What we're trying to accomplish is a year-long promotion in Clay County for a virtual tournament that culminates with a championship at the end of the year.
“In January, we're going to start a virtual series where we pay out growing prizes based on participation, cash payouts, plus prizes from all of our amazing partners and sponsors. And we're going use that to continuously evolve how we promote Clay County, to put it on the map. This is not a one-day or one-week or one-month type thing. This is a long-term partnership where we can show people that when you're coming down the interstate headed to some of the more well-known southern destinations in Florida, you're passing some a gem. You should stop on your way down or your way back up. Or you should just make this your way.”
Fishermen will be required to fish in a kayak, and unlike other bass organizations, fishermen are required to take a photo of the fish, measure the length and return the fish into the river, creek, lake or pond.
Other organizations rank catches by weight. KBF will use the combined lengths of the monthly catches to determine winners.
Hoover said each photo of a fish has to be sent to the website, and it will be issued a virtual identifier to make sure every fish was caught in any public waterway in Clay County. The fisherman’s hand is to be included in the photo to capture a type of fingerprint to keep fishermen from sharing the same fish before it is returned to the water.

Ridgeview High’s Becky Murphy selected principal of the year

ORANGE PARK – Clay County District Schools selected Ridgeview High’s Becky Murphy as the 2022- 2023 Principal of the Year. Murphy was nominated by other administrators in Clay County and Superintendent David Broskie presented the honor by surprising Murphy.
Murphy has worked in public education for 23 years and has been an administrator for the past eight years. She has led both Ridgeview High and Lake Asbury Junior High as a principal and is known by her colleagues and staff as a passionate and driven leader that cares for all students.
“My favorite part about being a principal is seeing our students grow into amazing young men and women with bright futures ahead. Our most significant role as educators is to help our students reach their full potential socially, emotionally, and academically while supporting their endeavors,” Murphy said.
Also, Middleburg Elementary’s Amanda Strickland was selected as the county’s assistant principal of the year.
“Principal Murphy is a wonderful representation of Principal of the Year for Clay County District Schools. Ms. Murphy truly cares for all students and staff and has spent the last four years at Ridgeview High focused on building a great culture where students are not only involved in their school community on campus but involved with their surrounding community outside of schools,” Broskie said.
As the award recipient, Murphy will represent Clay County District Schools in the state competition. In November, Murphy will be formally recognized at the monthly school board meeting.


RideOut’s Rosie steals the spotlight on The Kelly Clarkson Show

MIDDLEBURG – RideOut Elementary’s Rosie’s gegarious attitude and infectious smile made the first-grader one of the most popular guests on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” when she appeared with Dolly Parton to highlight the success of the singer’s Imagination Library Program.
The show unexpectedly reached out to Rosie’s family and asked to do a video interview. After the show recognized her expressive outlook, they invited her and her mother, Liz Williams, to Universal Studio, California to share their story about receiving Braille books from Parton’s program.
Parton’s initiative to provide books has been so widespread, one in 10 children now receives a book from her. Rosie, who suffered from septo-optic dysplasia that left her blind shortly after birth, is one of the children.
Since 1995, more than 200 million free books have been delivered to children every month.
“We began receiving Braille books from the Imagination Library. So our daughter was exposed to pre-Braille and Braille and that is so important,” said Rosie’s mother, Liz. “I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but only about 10% of blind children have the opportunity to be Braille literate. She’s in the first grade at RideOut Elementary School in Clay County, Florida. She was reading braille and writing Braille before most children are reading or writing in print.”
Then Clarkson surprised Parton when Rosie walked onto the stage. From there, she stole the show.
Rosie got hugs from Clarkson and Parton and she quickly asked them to “sing me a song.” They picked “Amazing Grace.”
While they sang, Rose clutched Parton’s thumb. She responded by pulling Rosie’s hand to her cheek.
“I liked singing the most,” Rosie said. “I liked it. It felt good to sing.”
Then Rosie asked if she could sing a song, and she picked “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
Rosie got a book a month from the program. Her favorite is “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come.”

Golden Eagles marching band to appear in New Year’s Day

FLEMING ISLAND – The invitation to participate in the New Year’s Day parade in London came a year ago, which only gave the Fleming Island High band about 11 months to raise $90,000 to pay for it.
The band currently sold wreaths all the way up to their departure on Dec. 28 – all while they’re working on their show that honors Queen Elizabeth. It is their final push to make sure their airline, hotel and meals are funded.
In the past year, however, the band has sold sports cups, socks and desserts. They also benefited from sponsorship and donations and completed surveys on websites for companies. But nothing filled the coffers more than popcorn.
“We made $16,000 on popcorn,” said band director Mara Rose. “That’s a lot of popcorn.”
The band will return on Jan. 4. It will be the second time in seven years the Golden Eagles have made the trip across the pond to perform in front of 100,000 people and on national television.
“The show is definitely a lot of fun,” said senior Andrew Mechling, who plays the tuba. “The music we’re getting is a lot of fun. We’re putting a lot of work into the show. I’ve never done anything like this.”
To earn an invitation, Rose had to give parade officials with testimonial letters, photos and a video of their performances. The Golden Eagles now are a legacy band, which means invitations essentially now are a matter of formality.
The show is called “Lilibet,” which was Queen Elizabeth’s nickname. The original plan was to highlight her 70th jubilee, but they had to make adjustments after she died on Sept. 8.

Oakleaf Renegades runs out to big lead to win Pop Warner Super Bowl

ORLANDO - Following an epic 17 weeks of dominating football, the Oakleaf Renegades 10-Under Pop Warner team, led by prolific tailback Calvin Ferguson’s three scores, held off a second half surge by the Addison Cowboys of Illinois to win a 34-19 national championship title in just their third year of existence.
“This is the first time in about 25 years that a team from the First Coast Conference in the northeast Jacksonville area, has been to the championship game,” said FCC President Dean Prince. “The last team that got close was a team from Ponte Vedra that lost a thriller in the national semifinal game.”
For Carlos Lowe, in his third year at the helm of the Renegades who only started playing in the newly-constructed Oakleaf Youth Sports, the Renegades have blistered their way through a season that started August 1.
With the game seemingly in hand behind Ferguson’s three 50-plus yard scoring runs and a dash from Keonte Ayers, the Renegades bolted to a 27-0 lead on the Addison team to go into the half with the same point total as their two previous wins; 27-0 in both the quarterfinals and in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Lower Perks of Pennsylvania.
“Addison started to come back on the Oakleaf team, but a strip tackle and a fumble recovery by the Renegades on a Cowboy breakaway seemed to turn the game around,” said Prince. “That Addison team was starting to make their move.”