From Main Street to Oakleaf: Christopher Foy trades in Tigers stripes for Knights

Foy helped turn Jackson around in 3 seasons; he’ll look to provide stability at Oakleaf

Christopher Foy led Jackson to an 8-3 record this season. (News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Christopher Foy helped rebuild the Jackson High football program and restored the pride long dormant on Main Street.

Next stop: Oakleaf.

Foy announced his resignation from Jackson on Wednesday night in a post on Twitter, saying he was “humbled” by the significant progress in the program. Foy went 19-12 at Jackson and led the Tigers to back-to-back state playoff berths. More importantly, he helped the Tigers turn the page from being everyone’s homecoming game to become a force in the Gateway Conference. Less than a day later, Oakleaf announced Foy as its new head coach.

Foy had more than a decade of experience as an assistant at Fletcher and has been involved in helping run a successful program with the Senators. His first high school head job was a total turnaround with the Tigers. Now, it’s attempting to build a consistent winner at one of the area’s largest programs, and the one closest to his home.

Foy replaces Marcus Miller, who served as the interim coach in 2022 after Frank Garis left before the season began for a job in the private sector. The Knights went 5-5 and didn’t reach the playoffs. Oakleaf hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 2018. The challenge for Foy — getting Oakleaf over the hump. Derek Chipoletti had the best four-year stretch in program history, going 30-13 from 2012-15 and leading the Knights the regional finals in 2014. But there’s definitely been a feeling that Oakleaf has left too many wins on the field since then. Foy will look to change that narrative.

“I believe you do anything 1,000 times, you’ll get better at it. You do it a million, then I can hold you accountable,” Foy said. “And so we got to give the kids the opportunity to do it million times. I told them today, I gave them the calendar for the month of December. They said, ‘Man, we start tomorrow? I said, ‘Guys, we’re [starting] two weeks late.”

It’s another big coaching move since the season ended.

In the past three weeks alone, Bartram Trail’s Darrell Sutherland (23 seasons) and Keystone Heights’ Chuck Dickinson (24 seasons) have stepped down. Also leaving after successful tenures were Fleming Island’s Damenyum Springs (took over as interim in 2015 and promoted to permanent head coach in 2016) and West Nassau’s Rickey Armstrong (nine seasons). Atlantic Coast’s Mike Montemayor spent just four seasons with the Stingrays, but led them to their only playoff wins in program history.

Area high school football coaching changes

SchoolCoachNew coach
Atlantic CoastMike MontemayorVacant
Bartram TrailDarrell SutherlandVacant
Fleming IslandDamenyum SpringsVacant
JacksonChristopher FoyVacant
Keystone HeightsChuck DickinsonVacant
OakleafMarcus Miller (interim)Christopher Foy
West NassauRickey ArmstrongVacant

Foy took over a program looking for stability in December 2019 and brought just that. The Tigers hadn’t posted a winning season since Kevin Sullivan’s final year in 2009 and had cycled through coach after coach with little success.

Sullivan, later the athletic director at Jackson, pried Foy off the sidelines at Fletcher to give him his first head coaching job with the Tigers. Things weren’t easy.

Foy’s first full spring was tripped up by the pandemic in 2020. His next spring and summer were impacted by the deaths of two coaches on the Jackson staff, Donald Rocker Jr. and Lin Shell. The Tigers dedicated their season to those men and wound up qualifying for the state playoffs for the first time since 2010.

This season, Jackson enjoyed its best stretch since Sullivan’s final season. The Tigers went 8-3, won their first district title since 2009 and earned the No. 1 seed in Region 1-2M. Foy also coached linebacker Grayson Howard, a South Carolina commit and All-American selection. While their season ended on a down note — back-to-back losses to First Coast and Riverside — Foy accomplished what he set out to do.

Restore the pride on Main Street.

“You only get a chance to turn a program around once and that’s when you got to become consistent,” Foy said. “And the situation I’m in now, the resources [of being at a larger school] are very important. The student pool is also very important. To have over 2,000 students to work with now, that’ll be helpful. I cherish those moments and those relationships that I made with those kids on Main Street and that I made in that community. That was really the force behind the success I’ve had.”

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.