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Spring swing football: Growing pains out of the way for Ribault

Trojans were young in 2018, but coach hopes that experience pays off

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.News4Jax’s high school football Spring Swing continues daily throughout spring practice across the First Coast. Today, we’ll take a quick look at Ribault. 

Ribault had a young football team last year and some of the youth was evident. 

Coach Kelvin Smith calls them growing pains. But those Trojans aren’t so young anymore. 
The Trojans have reached the state playoffs four consecutive seasons, although they haven’t won in the postseason since the 2015 opener at Ponte Vedra. 

What does Smith hope to see this spring? Progress. And a team that’s ready to take a step or two forward.

“I’m excited about the youth we have and the kids that are growing up and maturing in the offseason,” he said.

“I’m excited to see what they’re going to do next year. We played a lot of ninth and 10th graders that have played together coming up through Pop Warner and through middle school. They’re excited to play together. They won championships [at those levels]. Hopefully we can carry that on at the high school level.”

It’s no secret that Ribault’s offense struggled badly in 2018, the result of young players learning positions as they went. In their first five games last season, the Trojans managed just three offensive touchdowns and things didn’t get much more consistent the rest of the way. 

The good news is that the Trojans’ defense was largely exceptional while the offense grew. 
Smith thinks that those growing pains of 2018 will yield positives come August.

Players such as quarterback Chris Calhoun started as a freshman. Running back/athlete Martranius Mack played a larger role as a sophomore. And Smith said that rising senior Keonta Jenkins is a 2020 version of recent Ribault grad and two-way player Devon Matthews, who signed with Indiana.  

“Hopefully we’ll be able to leave spring with some offensive continuity that we need going to the summer to take us into the fall,” Smith said. “That’s my biggest thing. Come out of the spring and make sure we’ve got some continuity on offense.”

2019 Ribault football schedule

Aug. 23, Ribault at Creekside

Aug. 30, Mandarin at Ribault

Sept. 6, Ribault at Trinity Christian

Sept. 13, Lee at Ribault, 6

Sept. 20, Ribault at Sandalwood

Sept. 27, Ribault at Yulee*

Oct. 4, TBA

Oct. 11, TBA

Oct. 18, TBA

Oct. 24, Paxon at Ribault*

Oct. 31, Ribault at Tallahassee Lincoln

*Indicates district game

All games at 7 p.m. unless indicated


About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.