NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – NewsJax’s high school football Spring Swing continues daily throughout spring practice across the First Coast. Today, we’ll take a quick look at Fletcher.
One hurdle down, another one to go.
Reaching the state playoffs last year was the goal for Fletcher. That was all well and good for the Senators, but that’s given way to a new goal.
Fletcher got a taste of the postseason for the first time since 2014, but now, it wants more.
“After a first-round loss against Columbia, it was nice making it, but we wanted to make it farther,” said quarterback Devon Lingle. “We’ve taken it upon ourselves to speed it up, take the game more seriously. We’re going to turn it up this year.”
If 2019 is about improvement and retooling things, keeping the pace fast and the expectations elevated.
“We lift weights fast, we walk through the halls fast, everything is fast,” said coach Kevin Brown. “I just believe if you practice fast you play fast, so we like going downhill.”
Fletcher will have to retool things quite a bit after a 7-4 playoff season in 2018, its first for Brown, who is entering his fourth season as the Senators’ head coach.
The defensive side of the ball — along with Miami signee at receiver Jeremiah Payton — has taken top billing during Brown’s tenure. Jalen Mitchell was the area’s top defensive player in 2018, picking off 10 passes in the regular season. And the Senators haven’t had problems getting to the quarterback the last few seasons, with players like DJ Bennett, Levi Centeno, Joe Harris and Hunter May, to name a few.
The strongest unit on the field in 2019 should bounce back to the other side of the ball along Fletcher’s offensive line.
“Our big core is offensive line, we’re going to hang our hat on offensive line this year, that’s where the majority of our experience is on the offensive side of the ball,” Brown said.
Bradley Ashmore, a Vanderbilt commit, is the big name, but Michael Bartilucci, Chandler Kirton, Tyler Matson and Derek Simmons, all of whom were starters or logged significant playing time, all return.
That group has Lingle very excited.
“My big boys work hard, they’re all benching over 300, squatting like mad men,” Lingle said. “They just work together. They’re a brotherhood.”
Fletcher 2019 football schedule
Aug. 30, Sandalwood at Fletcher
Sept. 6, TBA
Sept. 13, Fletcher at Fleming Island, 7:30*
Sept. 20, Fletcher at Flagler Palm Coast
Sept. 27, Atlantic Coast at Fletcher*
Oct. 4, TBA
Oct. 11, Fletcher at Gainesville Buchholz, 7:30*
Oct. 18, Creekside at Fletcher*
Oct. 25, First Coast at Fletcher*
Nov. 1, Fletcher at Mandarin
* Indicates district game
All games 7 p.m. unless indicated