ST. AUGUSTINE - Knowing he was outgunned in experience coming into tonight’s matchup in St. Augustine against the Yellow Jackets, Clay High Head Football Coach Kyle Kennard dialed up some early …
ST. AUGUSTINE - Knowing he was outgunned in experience coming into tonight’s matchup in St. Augustine against the Yellow Jackets, Clay High Head Football Coach Kyle Kennard dialed up some early strategy for his Clay Blue Devils.
Needing to slow down the lightning speed of the tempo, Run/Pass option (RPO) Yellow Jacket offense, Kennard used the play clock to try and slow the game enough to have his team go on a paced offense to try and hang with the gunslinging offense of St. Augustine. Through most of the first quarter, the tactic worked, holding the Jackets to a single score, 7-0 at the end of the first. But the depth of the Jacket backfield and the RPO deception in the pocket allowed St. Augustine to bust open the dam in the second quarter with another 21 unanswered points going into the half, 27-0 on their way to a 45-7 trouncing of the Blue Devils.
“Run-Pass option is a cat and mouse game,” said Kennard, now 3-6 with a season ender at Oakleaf High. “If we tighten up in the back of the box, they threw to the perimeter and made us take on their athletes in space. If we backed out, they began running the ball. They are a big, physical team, they have a great program, and they beat us up tonight.”
St. Augustine sophomore quarterback Locklan Hewlett made the option look easy. As one or two running backs would seem to have the ball, Hewlett would continue to look downfield. If he had a defender one-on-one with one of his receivers, he pulled the ball back out and heaved it downfield. As Clay played more defenders back to take away the pass, the Jackets used the stacked backfield to ram the ball up the middle and clip off four to nine yards a run, breaking several out for double digit gains. “It’s not that these kids aren’t playing hard,” said Kennard. “It’s that they don’t understand what it takes to compete at a high level. They are going through a process and it is not easy. We have to get through this and get in the weight room.” As Kennard told his team after the game, they “need to eat weights.”
In the second quarter, if Hewlett wasn’t seeing an open receiver, he had a loaded backfield with Ivyn Collins, Devonte Lyons, and Sean Harvey who were not held to a single negative yard all night. The trio rotated in and gave St. Augustine fresh legs on every down. The Jackets only punted twice all game.
The tempo offense was another thing St. Augustine did with precision. As quick as the referees could spot the ball, the Yellow Jackets were on the line and snapped the ball. The discipline it takes to run this offense is rare at this level and St. Augustine perfected it.
In the third quarter, after a failed on-side kick attempt by Clay, St. Augustine went 55 yards in :52 seconds to blow the score up to 35-0 with three tempo passes. Clay again went three and out, punting the ball back to the Yellow Jackets. After driving the field, the Clay defense started seeing the patterns and broke up a third down and short yardage pass to force the Jackets to a field goal, 38-0, putting the game into a running clock. As the third quarter ended, the Blue Devils were on the march into St. Augustine territory.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils caught the Yellow Jackets by surprise as Clay quarterback Merrick Rapoza found one of his favorite receivers one-on-one. With a 30 yard air mail package, Rapoza hit Payton Dykas up high where the defender could not get to. Coming down with the rock, Dykas turned and brought the shutout to an end. With the good Alex Weiss point after, Clay was finally on the board 38-7. On the next series, after an incomplete pass, the Yellow Jackets needed only a single pass play to 50 yards for the final score, 45-7.
Middleburg 35, Orange Park 14
Massive game for senior tailback T.J. Lane who broke for two 50-plus yard first quarter scores en route to a phenomenal 351 yards rushing on 24 carries as Broncos dominated Raiders 35-14. Lane scored four times as Broncos were without Mike Mitchell.
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