Green Cove Springs, FL

Season Recap: Clay High Blue Devils finish third in district

Anthony Salazar

The Clay High Blue Devils finished the 2022 football season with a 3-7 record.

Clay finished third in the 3S District 4 with a 2-2 district record, a 1-4 home record and a 2-3 record on the road.

Clay had a rough time this season due to losing a lot of players from last season who either graduated or transferred. It was apparent from the jump that Clay would be in a rebuilding year after they got decimated at home for the first game of the season against in-county rival Fleming Island Golden Eagles, 49-7.

However, head coach Kyle Kennard is no stranger to turning a program around. Before Kennard took over as head coach in 2020, Clay had a 1-9 record. Kennard would lead the team the following year to a 10-2 record and a playoff run.

Even though the season was disappointing by Clay High standards, they have a young core of players who got an abundance of experience this season and showed a lot of potential.

Junior wide receiver/defensive back Payton Dykas was Clay High’s best player this season. Clay was stuck in situations numerous times where someone needed to make a play and Dykas answered the call. Dykas caught 52 passes for 931 yards and led the county with 14 receiving touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. On defense, Dykas recorded 31 total tackles and two interceptions.

Sophomore quarterback Merrick Rapoza showed some potential as a passer and a rusher in his first year as the starter. Rapoza passed for 1,219 yards, 14 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions while also having 269 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Sophomore running back Chandler Thomas also had a solid year of 234 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore linebacker Jarvaris Roberts and sophomore defensive lineman Aaron Stacy look to be the future of the Blue Devils' front seven. Roberts led the team with 67 total tackles. Roberts also recorded four tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. Stacy recorded 48 total tackles, two fumble recoveries and led the team in tackles for loss with nine.

Even though Clay has plenty of talent returning for the 2023 season, they will still lose some of their top players to graduation. Linebacker/running back Dominic Martin was second on the team in total tackles, 60, and forced fumbles, one. Edge rusher Bryan Prince led the team with 4.5 sacks and was second on the team with six tackles for loss. Dwonya Williams was third on the team with 55 total tackles and recorded two tackles for loss.

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Left to right: Merrick Rapoza, Payton Dykas, Bradley Warren, Dominic MartinPhoto byPhoto via Clay High Football's Instagram

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I am a student at the University of North Florida majoring in communication with a focus on journalism and minoring in sports management.

Green Cove Springs, FL
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