Although technically RJ Fuhr is a first-year head coach, serving as Oak Hall’s interim coach for nine games in 2018 certainly prepares him for the challenges of the coming season.
The Eagles, who in the past had some physical running backs who helped a freshman quarterback in Cole Gonzales (son of UF wide receiver and co-offensive coordinator Billy Gonzales), will be more spread out this year with a very young offensive line.
“I got my feet wet with that interim tag, but we are doing well,” Fuhr said. “We had a really good summer, worked a lot on lifting. Working to be in better shape.
“A lot of guys will need to go both ways, and I told the guys we have to be in better shape than everybody we play. We have a 30-man roster and nearly half of them are sophomores. A lot of them got meaningful time last year, which was good.”
While Fuhr feels good about his starting 11 on both sides of the ball, he is concerned about depth. But in Gonzales, he has a rising sophomore quarterback who passed for 703 yards with 10 touchdowns, and also ran for 370 yards and six scores.
“He really took command of the offense for a young guy,” Fuhr said. “Being a coach’s son, he has that football IQ. He also has maturity for his age.”
A key concern is at offensive line, which may start two eighth-graders and a freshman. The addition of Jamari Clemons (6-foot, 280 pounds) from Eastside will help. Clemons already has an offer from FAU.
The Eagles lost a senior lineman in Julian Scott (6-3, 300), who tore his ACL in the spring game.
Most important position battles: Receiver and defensive back. “Our skill guys I feel pretty strongly about,” Fehr said. “We are going to spread things out, and have multiple receiver packages. No one will be complaining about playing time.”
Key returning starter(s): “Cole Gonzales (at quarterback),” Fehr said. “He was a freshman last year and did very well. He will be one of our captains as a sophomore. He is one of our better defensive backs also, and he wants to play there. Senior Zhai Smith, who is also a captain for us, returns kicks and punts. He plays free safety, strong safety and I may have him play some corner because he is a very good cover guy. Senior Stephen Kleel, another captain, plays anywhere we ask him to. He never complains.”
Key newcomer(s): “Jamari Clemons will be a difference maker for us,” Fehr said. “He will be a big help for us both offensive and defensively. Ryan Nolan plays defensive back and safety for us. He’s a sophomore and has played main on defensive side but in some 7-on-7 he played receiver. He just makes plays. Jacaree Kelly is a freshman and he’s explosive. He will be that home run hitter.”
Looming camp question: Depth. “I think our first 11 on both sides of the ball are pretty good. But we are thin. We have 29-30 kids, which isn’t bad, especially for a school our size. When I look at our depth chart, we have to stay healthy. Especially on the offensive line.” — RJ Fehr