Top 10 Sports Performances of Fall 2020 – Clay Today Online

By Randy Lefko
Sports Editor

Millson strong return to

XC top performance of 2020

JACKSONVILLE – Fleming Island High senior Emma Millson returned from a season ending injury last year to return to the turf at the uber-competitive Cecil Field Summer Classic Cross Country Invitational held Friday night at Cecil Field’s New World Golf Course. The meet was the first competition amidst a summer of indecisiveness concerning the deadly COVID-19 pandemic and the starting of high school sports in Florida.

For her gallant return, Millson is the Top sports performer for the Clay Today Top 20 performances of 2020. The Winter sports top performances will be in next week’s Clay Today sports pages.

For the Golden Eagles, Millson stormed to the top spot for her team with a 19:42 split for seventh place after returning to the lineup after a series of injuries took her out of competition for the past year.

Millson would continue her comeback season as top finisher for Fleming Island with the Golden Eagles winning a district and region title followed by a sixth place finish at the state championships. Millson would finish 25th at the state meet and earn an athletic scholarship to the University of North Florida. season as top finisher for Fleming Island with the Golden Eagles winning a district and region title followed by a sixth place finish at the state championships. Millson would finish 25th at the state meet and earn an athletic scholarship to the University of North Florida.

Anthony shows out against top national defense

VALDOSTA – In Lowndes County, 8A-Oakleaf took to the road to take on the ninth-ranked nationally Vikings of Valdosta but found internal miscues and a bit more athleticism to give up a 24-0 halftime lead en route to a 37-17 loss. Lowndes County, the 2019 7A state runnerup, finished 2020 at 10-2 and lost in the state Final Four to eventual runnerup Collins Hill.

Against the vaunted Vikings of Georgia, Oakleaf wide receiver Terrance Anthony, a senior and first team All-State selection, had his best performance of 2020 with 11 catches for 180 yards with a 52 yarder and a 26 yarder including one score in the 37-17 loss.

Oakleaf finished at 7-4 with a playoff loss to Bartram Trail.

Dunning strikes away; two

one-handed snags

CHICAGO – Clay High baseball pitcher Dane Dunning said his August 19 debut into Major League Baseball was a bit surprising as his first batter faced as a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox laced a double.

“I was more nervous on the first pitch and when he hit it, I just settled down and we played good defense,” said Dunning. “Once I got past that, I got smooth and started throwing good stuff.”

On August 19, against the Detroit Tigers, Dunning, 25, opened with seven strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work as he pitched head-to-head with the top pick in the 2018 MLB draft; Detroit’s Casey Mize.

With Detroit Tiger slugger Jeimer Candelario introducing Dunning to the Majors with a first inning double followed by a fifth inning three run homer, Dunning ebbed and flowed through the debut with the blessing of the White Sox coaching staff.

The White Sox won the game 5-3.

After the double, Dunning simply settled in and started whiffing batters; seven total for the 4.1 innings of work.

Cline opens as winning coach

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Former Keystone Heights High School multi-sport athlete Kaitlyn Cline returned to her hometown after some college athletics to earn her first win as the newest girls volleyball coach for the Lady Indians.

“When I was asked to coach the team, I had to wrap my mind around that,” said Cline, a 2017 graduate and a athlete for volleyball, softball and basketball for the Lady Indians. In her career opener, a home match against West Nassau High, Cline, who played at Florida Gateway College in Lake City and is an elementary school teacher at McRae Elementary School, saw her team lose by five points.

“I didn’t panic and told them that we got this,” said Cline. “If you lose by five, it makes you play harder. We did. We won.”

Jaguars tag Quarterman out

of U Miami as linebacker

JACKSONVILLE – Oakleaf High School’s Shaquille Quarterman has already made the impression he has made on the field and off the field as a rookie draft choice of the Jacksonville Jaguars football.

“I like him,” said Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, no longer the Jaguars coach. “You put on the tape and watch him and he’s going around making plays. He’s a guy that really loves football.”

In Monday’s practice, the first padded for the Jaguars, Quarterman got a quick comment from defensive coach on a read during a scrimmage drill.

“Way to go 50, way to be disciplined while taking a peek in there,” said Wash, with a coy smile to his rookie linebacker.

Knights halt Eagles streak in OT

OAKLEAF – Oakleaf High football scored the last 22 points of the game to rally from a 15 point second half deficit to stun visiting Fleming Island 29-22 in overtime on Fri., Oct. 9, ending the Golden Eagles’ 16-game regular season winning streak and staking a claim to Clay County supremacy. Clay High won their game with West Nassau and remains the county’s lone unbeaten team with the Knights hosting Clay on November 6 in the season finale.

“My heart rate is racing,” said Oakleaf head coach Frank Garis after the game. “It is a tremendous victory for us.”

The game itself had a bit of everything. A safety. Two fake punts. An onside kick. Three turnovers. An inspirational halftime speech from a legendary alumnus. Penalties that nullified big plays. Fourth down stands. A do-or-die two point conversion. And finally, a tense overtime.

Oakleaf drew within two when Walter “Tre” Simmons, III, who threw for 175 yards and three touchdowns, found Terrance Anthony on a 10 yard in route. Anthony turned upfield and slipped tackle attempts by Devin Grind and Hunter Williams to complete a 23 catch and run with 2:55 remaining.

Siebert best beats Bobcats

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Keystone Heights High School girls golf ace Camille Jackson said prior to her final home match Tuesday afternoon that she would be happy if one of her teammates beat her.

“I like to win and I play to win, but if one of them beats me, that means the team does better,” said Jackson, a four-time state meet participant with a 23rd place finish last year. “Our goal is always to get the entire team to the state tournament again.”

At the Tuesday match against 3A golf power Gainesville Buchholz High, who held a 2-1 match advantage against 1A-Keystone Heights in 2020, it was senior Sloane Siebert who took Jackson’s prophecy to heart with her best-ever round of nine holes of golf; a two under par 34 score, that got her second place overall. The pair’s combined 70 score was enough to give the Indians a 163-171 winning cushion. “I just had the best round of golf I’ve ever had for nine holes,” said Siebert, Lady Spartans V-ball finish


Keester goes sub-17; Fleming

Island girls, boys second

JACKSONVILLE – Fleming Island High freshman cross country runner John Keester IV was on his back after finishing the New World Fall Cross Country Classic Saturday morning barely able to breathe.

“There’s a kid who has worked who hard only to get close to that 17 minute mark,” said Fleming Island High coach Dave Allen. “He finally got it today and he crushed it; 16 minutes, 53 seconds.”

Keester and 21 other runners at the high-powered gathering of harriers at the New World Golf Course that will host district and region meets in a week, all broke the 17 minute mark that is a key indicator of the speed expected in post season races. The top two runners; Riley Novack of Mount Dora Christian Academy and Lucas Bouquot of Ponte Vedra both finished under 16 minutes; 15:56 and 15:59, respectively.

Blue Devils keep rollin; 49-7

ST JOHNS – Clay High senior Quarterback Tre Griner, the Blue Devils’ team Captain for the coin toss, won the call and elected to take the ball to start the game and make a statement.

“We wanted to show them we are not the same team from last year,” said Griner, noting the Blue Devils’ 44-43 loss last year and their 1-9 record for 2019. “We are a whole different team. We wanted to come out here and fire them up in the first quarter.”

And fire away they did.

On the first play, Griner only needed seconds to find wide receiver Reid Waugh in the left flat to go up 7-0 in 28 seconds.

For the rest of the game, Clay bolted on a super-charger in that steamroller and simply smashed the Falcons 49-7. The total team effort kept Clay a perfect 5-0 as they continue to flatten anything that gets in their way.

For first year coach Kyle Kennard, the explosiveness of his offense under Griner only hides the affection for his big guys up front on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

“My defensive line doesn’t get enough love” said Kennard. “Especially my interior tackles. They get after it and it showed, allowing only seven points. They are quiet, play hard, and just get after it week in and week out. We wanted to make the Falcons one dimensional tonight, make them throw the football, while stopping the run. I’d say we were successful.”

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