Jacksonville High School Football Previews 2021: Class 7A

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QUARTER 3-7A

ATLANTIC COAST

Head Coach: Mike Montemayor, third year (8-13).

Last year: 5-6; lost in Region 1-7A semifinals to Fleming Island, 42-7.

Key turners: Ezra Barbee (WR, Sr., 6-2, 160); Marcello Coleman (OL, Jr., 6-3, 290); Tyrez Fluellen (LB, Sr., 6-0, 206); Janari Grimsley (LB, Sr., 6-2, 200); Jahiem Odom (S, Sr., 6-1, 190); Taelyn Ransom (OL, Sr., 6-0, 315); Rontavion Scott (DB, Sr., 5-11, 170); Arthur Walker (RB, Sr., 6-1, 208).

Key Newcomers: Ian Blount (OL / DL, Sr., 6-2, 210); Jacob Corley (ATH, Sr., 6-1, 180); Camden Hardy (DE, So., 6-2, 195); Cash Horswill (TE, Jr., 6-2, 180).

Outlook: After a better playoff performance in 2020, including a first playoff win, things are looking up for the Stingrays. Task # 1 replaces wide receiver Patrick Bryant II, signed in Illinois, which is far from easy. But the underrated part of this team is defense, and that’s largely untouched. Grimsley and Odom combined over 200 tackles last year, giving Atlantic Coast a shot in a district that’s far from easy to call.

FIRST CTE

Head Coach: Marty Lee, 25th year (152-100).

Last year: 3-4; lost in the region 1-7A prelims to Tallahassee Lincoln, 42-8.

Key turners: Tommy Bridgewater (OL, Sr., 6-3, 280); Josh Boykins (LB, Sr., 6-0, 215); Kam Davis (DB, Sr., 5-10, 195); Larry Edwards (QB, Sr., 6-1, 180); Derrick Hartley (DB, Sr., 6-0, 180); Devin Hopkins (WR, Sr., 6-1, 175).

Main newcomers: Samuel Olunuga (DE, Jr., 6-1, 200).

Outlook: It’s been seven years since First Coast won more than five games in a season, but the Bucs plan to change that behind an improved line, anchored by 280-pound tackle Bridgewater. They will also return a fourth-year starting quarterback to Edwards. In defense, the defense demonstrated its ability to force turnover in a dominant spring victory over Fernandina Beach.

FLEMING ISLAND

Head Coach: Damenyum Springs, sixth year (46-15).

Last year: 10-3; lost in the Region 1-7A final against Niceville, 35-18.

Key turners: Darion Domineck (WR, Jr., 6-4, 185); Caleb Jones (WR, Sr., 6-1, 170); Ricky Joseph (DT, Sr., 5-11, 260); Sam Singleton (RB, Jr., 5-11, 180); Joseph Stephens (CB, Sr., 5-11, 175); Dedric Walker (S, Sr., 6-3, 185); Hunter Williams (DE, Sr., 6-4, 185).

Main newcomers: Braden Cunningham (OL, So., 6-4, 295); Jhace Edwards (DE, Jr., 6-0, 205); Ethan Hoffstetter (OL, Jr., 5-10, 240); Gage Isbell (OL, Jr., 6-2, 245).

Outlook: Yes, the graduation losses are significant, but Fleming Island is bringing back speed in the backfield and power in the line. This could be the breakthrough season for electric junior running back Singleton, now the undisputed number one running back. The offensive and defensive fronts are also taking shape, with Cunningham emerging as a massive anchor. Until someone proves otherwise, the Golden Eagles enter 2021 as District 3-7A favorites.

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FLETCHER

Head Coach: Ciatrick Fason, first year.

Last year: 6-2; lost in the region 1-7A preliminary round against the Atlantic coast, 47-21.

Key turners: Aiden Heilmann (TE, Sr., 6-4, 235); Aaron Hester (DL, Sr., 6-3, 233); Merritt Reynolds (S, Sr., 6-2, 180); Tariq Riley (CB, Sr., 5-9, 170); Keely Watson (QB, Sr., 6-2, 185); Jabarri Williams (RB, Sr., 6-2, 210).

Key Newcomers: Trey Rose (WR, Sr., 6-4, 200).

Outlook: The Senators are set to ride under all-time point guard Fason, now back on the sidelines in one of Northeast Florida’s most anticipated coaching debuts. Watch out for Florida State-linked setter Hester who can show up at multiple positions on the pitch and even rush the ball. But Fletcher must replace several notable offensive linemen lost on graduation.

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NEASE

Head Coach: Collin Drafts, third year (2-17); sixth year in total (17-35).

Last year: 1-8; lost in Region 1-8A prelims to Oakleaf by forfeit.

Key turners: Ben Bogle (LB, Sr., 6-1, 225); Evan Crenshaw (P, Sr., 6-3, 179); Sam Dec (OT / DE, Sr., 6-4, 250); Taliek Golphin (RB, Sr., 5-11, 180); Dom Henry (ATH, Sr., 5-11, 180); Grant Stevens (TE, Sr., 6-4, 220); Marcus Stokes (QB, Jr., 6-1, 180); Chase Warner (DE, Sr., 6-2, 180).

Outlook: The experience portends a brighter future for the Panthers, with the return of 35 seniors who have endured more than their share of bumps in the road. But in a district without easy clashes, Nease must quickly consolidate a defense that has conceded 31 or more points in seven straight games. The main target on the offensive side is Stevens, who overcame last year’s struggles to land 40 passes for 502 yards and end up with a commitment to UCF.

Players to watch:Nease confident football with a “lightning fast” receiver, a “fiery” linebacker

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PONTE VEDRA

Head Coach: Steve Price, first year; 21st year in total (140-92).

Last year: 5-5; lost in Region 1-6A prelims to Columbia, 14-0.

Key turners: Xavier Agatep (C, Jr., 5-10, 240); Davis Ashcroft (K, Jr., 5-9, 155); Nathan Bunkosky (ATH, Jr., 6-0, 170); Michael Curry (OL, Sr., 6-2, 225); Evan Fleischer (DL, Sr., 6-2, 220); Will Henne (P, Sr., 6-5, 200); Kingston Kamal (DE, Jr., 6-3, 210); Luke Pirris (LB, Sr., 6-4, 225).

Main newcomers: Trooper Price (LB, Jr., 6-2, 210).

Outlook: A champion coach of Price, 2018 title-winner at Tallahassee North Florida Christian, comes to lead a Sharks team that has seen its promising 2020 derail due to injuries. Navy Pirris is one of St. Johns County’s top defensemen, and nationally ranked kicker Ashcroft is leading a superb special teams unit. There is a heavy workload ahead for Bunkosky, who fills a wide range of roles on offense.


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