Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Football Season Promises Excitement

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Football Season Promises Excitement

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Kindland, County Line staff writer

Hello, and welcome to the first issue of the Clay County Line's High School Football Fever, a publication that we hope will become an annual experience every bit as exciting as the games we'll be watching this season. We've done our best to put together a comprehensive look at each school, from both a coach's perspective and through the eyes of his players.

We've also tried to illustrate what each team looks like through the eye of a camera, striving to bring you the best local sports coverage possible. That's going to be an enjoyable process this year, especially with so many rivalries that have developed in Clay County.

Add to that, at least from a football standpoint, the newly created District 5-3A, which comprises Clay, Fleming Island, Middleburg and Ridgeview. Two of those four teams will qualify for the post-season playoffs, making each district game a critical one for each of the four schools.

Non-district rivalries are nothing new, either, and we get to see that Friday when Ridgeview travels to Class 5A Orange Park in the season opener for both teams. Ridgeview will be looking to avenge a season-opening loss to the Raiders last year, and newly appointed head coach Ted Leasor would like nothing more than to start off his first season at Orange Park on a winning note.

A lot of eyes will be on Fleming Island, the new kid on the block that doesn't have a senior class in its first year. Head coach Neal Chipoletti has done a commendable job bringing together a group of players who last year played on rival teams -- mostly from Ridgeview and Clay -- but now share a common goal of beating their former schools.

Clay is coming off a 6-4 record and has another challenging schedule made even more treacherous because the Blue Devils are considered a favorite to win their district. That doesn't sit well with Middleburg and Ridgeview, so we'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

Others will be interested in seeing if Middleburg, which shared the second-best won-loss record in Clay County with Keystone Heights last year, can improve on a 5-5 season. …

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