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Top prospects for Player of Year

Ammon, Broughton, Restall, Singleton?

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 8/17/22

OAKLEAF - After a statistics filled season led to a dismal 4-6 record, Oakleaf High quarterback Drew Ammon made it clear he wants the playoffs more than more statistics.

“At this point, with the …

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Top prospects for Player of Year

Ammon, Broughton, Restall, Singleton?


OAKLEAF - After a statistics filled season led to a dismal 4-6 record, Oakleaf High quarterback Drew Ammon made it clear he wants the playoffs more than more statistics.

“At this point, with the start of the season, football is what I’m all about,” said Ammon, also a soccer and tennis standout for Oakleaf. “I want more of everything. More touchdowns, more yards and more wins. We have to win some playoff games.”

For the Knights, Ammon’s targets are impressive; senior Taylor Bradshaw, also a candidate for player of year, is a major NCAA Div. I target with his incredible wingspan and his inate jumping ability for Ammon’s dimes down field.

“I just know he will be open when I need him,” said Ammon. “We’ve been throwing together since we were 10 and we want a ring together before it’s over.”

Ammon as the top drawer to be a repeat Clay Today player of year has a few chasers of the title with Fleming Island High sophomore quarterback Cibastian Broughton on his heels.

Broughton, as a surly freshman with a brash, but confident swagger, opened his season last year with a bit of turbulence, but settled in, realized his value as a field general and guided the Golden Eagles to a fast finish and a playoff spot for coach Damenyum Springs.

“He has learned to direct traffic out there now and make better decisions,” said Springs. “We kind of kept pushing him to keep playing despite some freshman mistakes and he proved to be a very fast and quick learner of the game of high school football.”

Broughton has a plethora of weaponry around him with Deonte Domenick a prime target at one end and Brenden Cook, a sinewy speedster with the heart of a lion and the chatter of a mockingbird, one of the best kept secrets last year. Cook, a track hurdler, could be the highlight reel for the Golden Eagles with Broughton the guy to make or break his vertical speed.

Tight end Dakota Rowe likes Broughton’s growth into his sophomore season and sees Broughton and also running back Sam Singleton’s return to the gridiron as an exciting combination.

“Sam has been at every practice and I’m ready to see him explode out there,” said Rowe. “Cibastian has become very versatile in his short to deep passes and has been getting us quality passes this summer that we are able to extend to bigger plays.”

For Broughton, and for Singleton, who has been nursing a lingering hamstring, the possibility of either of the two blowing up the player of year choices, makes the Golden Eagles that much more potent as an offense.

Should Singleton, who recently made a commit to FSU, be 100 percent and able to blast the entire season, the end result could be astounding as he showed glimpses of his ability break long last year; one a 99 yarder, for his near 1000 yards.

At the Oakleaf end of the county, running back Devin Outlaw has been in the same rowboat as Singleton with nagging injuries impeding his stats package, but Outlaw is confident of his return.

“I want to get that stack of stats to let people know that my good year was not a one time thing,” said Outlaw. “I’m stronger, fitter, more flexible and ready to roll.”

Oakleaf football coach Marcus Miller has repeatedly said that Outlaw’s rugged between-the-tackles style lends itself to a lot of wear and tear and that his goal is to have him all season to show off his prowess.

“Any running back that is carrying 25-30 reps a game is going to be dinged up,” said Miller. “We have probably six pretty good offense weapons to choose from and hope to get the ball around so no one athlete is taking all the shots. We will go big as Devin goes big.”

Orange Park running back JoJo Restall has kind of quietly been one of the most productive ball carriers in north Florida and with a massive offensive line in front of him and four track-fast wide receivers on his wings, the barn door could be open for this quarterhorse-strong runner to shred the gridiron.

“We know he needs just a sliver to go,” said offensive tackler Roderick Kearney, who at 300-plus pounds and already a Florida State University commit, has his own wingman, Braylon Hawkins ready to steamroll one side of the defensive fronts opposite them.

“We can control the game with our blocking up front, JoJo’s running and our passing game,” said Kearney. “If all three phases are humming, we’re scoring.”

At Middleburg, an interesting story will be told in 2022 with second year coach Ryan Wolfe embarking on a path of legit-ness after giving Bronco fans a 5-5 season to chew on for this season.

Three key guys on the front lines; running back Mike Mitchell, linebacker Austin Cruce and quarterback Jaydan Jenkins all have the tools around them and the instinct inside them to make this season epic for Middleburg’s always faithful following.

“We changed the culture of thinking last year with our wins and even with our losses by showing ourselves that we belong in the mix,” said Wolfe. “Our key is not to give good teams a 20-30 point lead off the first half, then wake up to chase them.”

Mitchell, a recent University of Utah commit, is a complete run, pass downfield package for Wolfe with a keen eye for open field.

“They want to get the ball to me in the open field so I can go,” said Mitchell, who spent most of the summer as a wingback, slot back kind of offensive lineup with Jenkins having T.J. Lane behind me as the inside threat. Lane, also a fast trackster, blasted two 80-plus yards scoring runs in a recent Middleburg team scrimmage, arguably against the second defense, but still a small snapshot of his ability to possibly be the Broncos second breakaway threat.

Jenkins, in this scenario, is the unknown character on a team of high potential only because he has learned an entirely new system under Wolfe at Middleburg. Jenkins, younger brother of Clay High standout Jaylan Jenkins who lit up fields for the Blue Devils in his prime time, has similiar instincts as big brother and also got some varsity reps as backup to Clay High’s Billy Mobley last year.

One factor in all this player of year contemplation is Clay Today’s choices in history of the occasional offensive or defensive linemen as players of year; Jarrod Leeds of Clay, Kendy Charles of Orange Park, to name two.

With that, Bradley Warren of Clay, Kearney of Orange Park, Kyland Armstrong of Oakleaf, a Wake Forest commit, and any one of five at Fleming Island; Ethan Hoffstetter, Braden Cunningham, Michael Zeray, Ethan Williams and T.J. Lawrence, all returners, could be one chosen if Singleton and Broughton have monster seasons. Wolfe has five of his own Godzillas with two massive bookend tackles; Jaylin Booker and Micah George; both 6-3 ish, 300 poundish, locking in returners Dakota Gober, Khoda Moses and Landen Padgett, all three near the 280-300 mark.

Defensively, watch for Middleburg safety Aidan Postemski. Who? Postemski is probably the smallest secondary player in the county, but the wily, second string quarterback could become the most dangerous guy in centerfield. Oakleaf’s Drake Stubbs snagged six picks last year and could spell POY with another half dozen or more.

Linebackers; watch for Fleming Island’s crew of three; led by Jhoel Robinson and Walker Whiddon, to be big splash players with Cruce for Middleburg a blue-collar kind of hero and Oakleaf newcomer Jaiden Hicks a guy to watch. Ridgeview’s pair of Hunter Creech and Sheppard Bridges, plus RB to LB Rayhn Hutchinson may surprise some observers.

Quarterback wise around the county, Clay’s Merrick Rapoze is a playmaker that could explode to the high school scene after a bunch of youth football success with Orange Park coach Marcus Wimberly dangling his starting slot between two guys; Elijah Craggette and Durrionte Myrick. If Wimberly can get his two quarterbacks on the same page as his outstanding pass catchers; speedsters Nolan Chambers and Brian Green with Larry Thomas and Jermel Brown adding 4 x 100 track prowess to the mix, Orange Park could be the most dangerous team in north Florida.