ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – In the oldest city in the United States, the words history and tradition mean a little more if you ask residents of St. Augustine.
Especially Yellow Jacket fans.
When St. Augustine hosts Pedro Menendez in the Football Friday on 4 game of the week tonight at 7PM, you will see more than one maroon & gold hat or shirt that will say "Class of 1958," and chances are it won't be the oldest one you could find. It is not uncommon to have three generations of Yellow Jacket football players in one family. Senior wide receiver and safety Michael Early can attest to that.
"A few family members came here and played so I remember seeing them coming up," said Early. "Some of those guys that I watched like Marquise Merrill, who is now a coach here and he is teaching me stuff about being a wide receiver. I'm still looking up to him and now he's my coach."
That history and tradition is not lost on head coach Brian Braddock, who played for legendary St. Augustine head coach Joey Wiles. In his third year in charge of the Yellow Jackets, Braddock says that that rich history is very important to uphold. More importantly however, is making their own tradition.
"All of our feeder middle school teams are named 'Yellow Jackets,'" said Braddock. "When you come up through that in the community, the tradition means a lot from that sense. But it means nothing when the ball is kicked and you have to play. We do feel the responsibility to uphold that tradition around here, but it won't have an impact on that 48 minutes on Friday night."
During those 48 minutes, an up and coming Pedro Menendez team is looking to snap an 18-game losing streak to St. Augustine that includes a 65-14 home loss last year to the Yellow Jackets. Menendez has their best offense in years with Kenny Logan and Tye Edwards leading the Falcons, but the Yellow Jackets aren't overlooking anybody.
"It is going to be a tough game," says Early. "Menendez has two good backs, a good safety who has a D-1 offer. It is going to be a tough game because we have to key in on both of those guys to win the ballgame."
The Yellow Jackets and Falcons kick off at St. Augustine High School at 7PM Friday night. Tune in to WJXT and News4Jax.com for highlights and more from this game and others in the area tonight on Football Friday on 4 at 10:30 PM.