Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Look for Rising Ribault; New Coach, Revamped Roster Hope to Maintain Momentum

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Look for Rising Ribault; New Coach, Revamped Roster Hope to Maintain Momentum

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Barney

To celebrate its best season in decades, the Ribault football team went out and shook up quite a bit.

It welcomed a slew of new players to the team and changed head coaches.

But the biggest change of all - if the Trojans play on deep into the postseason this year, it won't be a surprise.

Coach Anthony Flynn retired after the Trojans wrapped up a 7-5 season with an overtime loss to Suwannee in the regional semifinals. Taking his place is Kelvin Smith, a Times-Union Super 11 selection in 1986, who went on to play at Florida State. He had been Ribault's defensive coordinator since 2011.

"Same thing, not anything different," Smith said of the expectations. "We're just going to continue to do what we do. Coach Flynn set that foundation. I'm going to put my little twist to it and see what happens."

It had been decades since the Trojans were a factor in the postseason. They outmuscled Yulee late in the season to earn the runner-up spot in District 3-5A last year. Then Ribault went out and knocked off Ponte Vedra 24-14 in the playoff opener, its first postseason victory since Nov. 18, 1994.

Whereas that team evolved into something special after an 0-3 start, this unit is expecting the success from 2015 to carry over.

"I see the improvement every day in practice, we've improved, we're more mature, as well as our experience," said receiver Kenneth Channelle. "It really gave us confidence [2015], made us more hungry as a team. We want to win state. We have the team to do it."

Not only do the Trojans return a boatload of talent, they picked up quite a few impact transfers who will no doubt help offset some of their graduation losses. Their defense under Smith was already very good. Ribault had one of the top statistical units in the area last season (168.3 ypg), and had players like DE Jaalen Ford, DL Jamal Harrison and LBs Dewayne Eason, Antonio Hagans and Josh Whitehead coming back. It picked up impact transfers in DE Jaylen Joyner and DT Kenton Tucker to add to defensive front, which has the potential to reshape what was a very good defense into a sterling one.

"We're building off of that [defense] and going as far as we can go with it," Smith said. …

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