Ciatrick Fason, Fletcher rushing leader, former Gators and NFL RB, named football coach
For most of his life, Ciatrick Fason hasn't been far from Fletcher's football sidelines.
Now, the all-time Duval County rushing leader gets to call the shots.
"It'll mean a lot, coming from being a top player here to the head man in charge," he said. "It's a whole lot different being the head coach."
Fason, Fletcher's all-time rushing king and a longtime assistant, is taking over as the Beaches high school's head football coach, Fletcher athletic director Joe Reynolds confirmed to the Times-Union Monday.
Fason takes over for Bobby Raulerson, who had coached the Senators in 2020 following the retirement of longtime Fletcher coach Kevin Brown. Fletcher finished 6-2 last year, losing the postseason opener against Atlantic Coast.
"To go back to the place where it all started, it's something special," Fason said.
Fason, 38, rushed for 7,479 yards and 96 touchdowns for Fletcher between 1998 and 2001, winning high school All-American honors. His rushing yardage mark stood as a Northeast Florida record until Yulee's Derrick Henry surpassed him on the way to a national record between 2009 and 2012.
Fason signed with the University of Florida and played for the Gators from 2002 through 2004, receiving first-team All-SEC recognition as a junior, before entering the NFL Draft. The Minnesota Vikings selected him in the fourth round in 2005, and he played two seasons with the NFC North team.
Since then, he's been active promoting youth athletics in Jacksonville, as well as coaching the Fletcher offense from 2016 to 2019.
He particularly focused on the running game while on Fletcher's staff previously, working closely with Myles Montgomery, who surpassed 4,000 yards for his Senators career — a total that would have likely climbed even higher if not for multiple COVID-19 cancellations during his senior season — and signed in December with top-10 team Cincinnati.
Fason takes over a program that's become one of Northeast Florida's most consistent winners. Fletcher hasn't had a losing season since 2006, a 14-year run that dates back to the head coaching days of current athletic director Reynolds.
The expectations are high, but Fason is ready for them.
"I'm not afraid of pressure," he said. "I played in front of 100,000 people at The Swamp, at Neyland Stadium, all those places."