GREEN COVE SPRINGS — Once again in 2022, northern supremacy, throughout all of Region 1, was determined by the outcome of the Uncivil War.
And the way that Fleming Island won in Thursday night’s 33-20 victory over Clay in the Blue Devil gym — and who won — might say a lot about how the Golden Eagles intend to hold that supremacy not just into next season, but perhaps for a couple of seasons to come.
With a lineup that had just one senior in it — and a first-year starter at that — Fleming Island (23-2 in duals for the season) didn’t so much explode Clay’s hopes to win the rivalry dual for a second straight year as it slowly pushed those hopes aside, match by match, minute by minute, even move by move by a group that defied its years with a patient certainty against which the Blue Devils (14-3) found few answers.
“What we want to do, especially for guys at a young age like a lot of these are, is just be where our feet are,” Golden Eagles coach PJ Cobbert said. “We can’t control what regional we’re in or what district we’re in, but we can control everything we can do right here.
“And they’re ahead of the game on that.”
The teams traded decisions in the first two weight classes, with Jhoel Robinson (182) opening with a 5-2 win for Fleming Island and Clay’s Kedtric Wilbon taking a 12-6 win at 195.
The Blue Devils then forged a little bit of daylight toward a lead, going out to a 12-3 advantage when the Golden Eagles forfeited at 220 to Clay’s Garrett Tyre, followed by a 3-2 win at 285 from Ethan Daniels, who had not appeared for Clay at last weekend’s 23rd annual Rotary tournament.
That daylight was threatened immediately, however, as the Golden Eagles erased the Clay lead on Shane Duhaylungsod’s 3-2 win at 106 and Jayce Paridon’s second-period fall (3:24) at 113. Clay would build a lead back with Maverick Rainwater’s pin (3:16) at 120.
But a subtracted team point against Clay, and three straight Fleming Island wins thereafter on majors from Laird Duhaylungsod (9-1, bumped up a weight from his usual 120 to 126) and Joshua Mukaddam (Fleming’s only senior starter, with a 9-0 win at 132), plus a 10-4 win at 138 from Kaden Schaefer, would give the Golden Eagles the lead for the remainder of the dual.
During that stretch, tat trio of FIHS competitors epitomized the group’s methodical approach, building wave upon wave upon wave of pressure in both denying opportunities and hitting every chance they, as a group, got.
“They found a way to score more points, they were more aggressive on the whole,” Clay coach Jim Reape said of the Fleming opponent. “They did better jobs of attacking on the feet and on top. We had to get guys to score; they did a jood job of that. When we had to win, we didn’t.”
And although Clay senior Luke Boree stopped momentum for a moment with his double-overtime 3-2 win at 145, the Golden Eagles’ next group — Christopher Chop (10-1 major at 152), Ronan Bozeman (4-1 decision at 160) and Joshua Sandoval (9-3 decision at 170) — were just as unforgiving as the previous three in slamming the door shut on the dual.
“These boys have wrestled South Dade, wrestled Southwest (Miami), wrestled (Tampa) Jesuit. That’s as good as it gets in the state,” Cobbert said. “That’s nothing against tonight, but when these kids have wrestled at that level, they just understand they’ve seen the biggest battles already.
“And we get to bring back 99% of them.”
Thursday night’s dual ended the regular season for both teams. They’ll now diverge into their classifications for IBT work, as Fleming Island will travel to Columbia for the 2A-District 2 tournament on Wednesday. Clay will host the 1A-District 4 IBT that same day.
A box score for the War can be found HERE.