A look ahead to the 2019 high school football season in Northeast Florida for Class 2A, Class 1A and independent schools
Head coach: Frank Andrea, sixth year (21-27); eighth year overall (28-42).
Last year: 4-6.
Key returners: Jaylon Hunter (QB/S, So., 6-1, 165); Jamari Johnson (RB/DE, Jr., 5-10, 212); Justin Jones (OT/LB, Jr., 6-1, 245); Jacob Kern (WR/FS, Jr., 6-1, 155); Cory McCalip (RB/SS, So., 6-2, 183); Andre Rigens (RB/LB, So., 5-10, 205); Jamie Sharp (OT/NT, Jr., 6-2, 285).
Key newcomers: Ethan Andrews (WR, Fr., 5-7, 135).
Outlook: The Warriors have quietly put together a team that can cause trouble with its ground game, winning three games by shutout last season. Hunter, McCalip and Rigens all saw some action as ball-carriers as freshmen. Naturally, University Christian and St. Joseph are the expected power teams here, but don't count Eagle's View out of the chase for a playoff berth.
NORTH FLORIDA EDUCATIONAL
Head coach: Rico Robinson (first year).
Last year: 0-10.
Key returners: Steven Mincy (QB, Sr., 6-0, 190); Ramauri Simpson (RB, Jr., 5-11, 195); Larry Tould (WR, Jr., 5-3, 140).
Outlook: The team is pursuing its first win since October 2017, but Robinson isn't dwelling on past struggles. The skill positions look like the strength this season for NFEI, which returns a second-year starting quarterback in Mincy.
Head coach: Brannon Tidwell, second year (9-1).
Last year: 9-1; lost to Taylor County 49-23 in Region 1-3A semifinal.
Key returners: Michael Bleau (OL, Sr., 5-10, 225); Kent Hill (WR, So., 5-10, 175); Christian Kes (DB, Sr., 5-10, 175); Patrick Lane (WR/DB, Sr., 5-10, 180); Michael Mugford (DL, Sr., 6-1, 190); Evan O'Halloran (OLB, Sr., 6-0, 185); Sam Ryan (WR/DB, Sr., 6-0, 175); Ethan Senderling (MLB, Sr., 6-0, 175).
Key newcomers: Aaron Anderson (RB, So., 5-5, 150); Ty Lawson (DB, Sr., 6-1, 170).
Outlook: Part of the story is the players who aren't here: the graduated duo of James Drysdale and Dylan Thibault, who helped carry St. Joseph to an unbeaten regular season in 2018. But the Flashes can still light up opponents with defense, including the linebacker combination of Senderling and O'Halloran as well as Kes in the secondary. If their offense can score with consistency, look out.
Head coach: David Penland III, ninth year (77-25).
Last year: 8-5; lost to Tallahassee North Florida Christian 45-21 in Class 2A state semifinal.
Key returners: Joe Carter (RB/LB, Sr., 6-1, 220); Jackie Dinh (LB, Sr., 5-8, 185); Orel Gray (DB, Fr., 6-0, 185); Cody Kopp (LB, Sr., 6-1, 220); Max McClendon (RB, Sr., 5-10, 175); Noah Robertson (OL, Sr., 6-4, 272); Khol Roswan (DL, So., 6-2, 250); Arthur Walker (RB/LB, So., 6-0, 200).
Key newcomers: Jerome Manning (TE/DE, So., 6-0, 215); Marques Moulds (RB/DB, Sr., 5-8, 170).
Outlook: Just how many players can carry the ball for UC? A lot, and that's reason number one that the Christians are favorites to challenge once more for a spot in the state final. While offense naturally draws the attention, though, UC can also come through on defense, led by Northern Illinois commit Kopp and his linebacker teammates Dinh and Carter, the latter a part of the school's final four basketball lineup.
Head coach: Demetric Jackson, 13th season (85-40).
Last year: 8-3; lost to Pensacola Catholic 49-34 in Region 1-3A semifinal.
Key returners: Aaron Byrne (TE/LB, Sr., 5-10, 195); Kameron Calhoun (FB/LB, Sr., 6-0, 235); Terrance Jones (WR/SS, Sr., 5-11, 175); Izaya Latham (WR/DB, Sr., 6-2, 175); Derrick Roberson (WR/LB, Sr., 6-2, 190); Brayden Summers (RB, Jr., 5-10, 205); Marquay Watkins (OT/DE, Sr., 5-10, 220); Thomas Williams (OT/NT, Sr., 6-0, 280).
Key newcomers: Tyler Jefferson (QB, Fr., 6-2, 210); Leon Watkins (RB/DB, Sr., 5-8, 180).
Outlook: Moving into Class 1A after spending the last cycle in the 3A ranks, the Indians must replace quarterback Dylan Blair, who threw for 1,877 yards last year, and running back Stanley Maxwell, who gained 1,324. But they return Summers, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry last year, and deep threat Roberson (16 catches, 345 yards), as well as numerous starters on a defense that held opponents to 17 points a game in 2018.
Head coach: John Pate, second year (3-7); 15th year overall (49-49).
Last year: 3-7.
Key returners: Cody Bright (RB/LB, Sr., 5-10, 175); Kale Corbitt (RB/LB, Sr., 5-11, 175); D.J. Coston (RB/DB, So., 5-10, 175); Nathan Dowie (QB, Sr., 6-1, 193); John Johnson (OL/DL, Jr., 5-10, 187); Tywuan Lee (RB/DB, Jr., 6-2, 186); Tanner Morgan (DE, Sr., 5-11, 168); Jason Sheffield (TE/LB, Jr., 6-3, 185).
Key newcomers: Tristin Moody (WR/LB, Sr., 6-0, 178); Seth O'Neil (MLB, Sr., 5-10, 185); Josh Yancey (CB, Sr., 5-8, 160).
Outlook: Pate expects the Hilliard option offense to spring into action this year, with Dowie behind the center and a multitude of ball carriers for handoffs and pitches. Numbers have roughly doubled from the start of 2018 fall practice. The team's success could rest on the readiness of a young and largely untested offensive line.
Head coach: Ronny Pruitt, 10th year (72-28); 17th year overall (97-46).
Last year: 5-6; lost to Mayo Lafayette 34-30 in Region 3-1A semifinal.
Key returners: Clayton Connelly (OL/DT, Sr., 5-11, 255); JB Godwin (OL/DT, Sr., 5-10, 260); Tavion Lee (RB, Sr., 5-10, 160); Allan McClellon (WR/LB, Sr., 6-1, 190); Hosea Robinson (RB/LB, Sr., 6-1, 215); Lance Thornton (QB, Sr., 5-9, 150)
Key newcomers: Paden Clyatt (RB/LB, Jr., 5-7, 160); B.J. Harvey (ATH, Jr., 5-10, 150), Curran Webb (TE/LB, So., 6-2, 180).
Outlook: Defense holds the key to the 2019 fate of Union County, which has lost some of its bulk in the trenches. The more the Fightin' Tigers can get the ball into the hands of athletes like McClellon and Robinson, the greater their chances of making some noise in Class 1A.
Head coach: Travis Markoski, fifth year (12-28).
Last year: 2-8.
Key returners: Allan Chavez (DT, Sr., 5-8, 250); Isaac James (RB/LB, Sr., 5-8, 160); Angel Lecointe (DT, So., 6-0, 225); I'jon Richardson (QB/DB, Jr., 5-9, 160); Connor Salt (WR/LB, Sr., 6-2, 180); Tre' Williams (RB/DB, Sr., 6-1, 190).
Key newcomers: TreVaughn Hernandez (LB, Fr., 5-8, 210); Chandler Ivory (OL, Fr, 6-1, 235).
Outlook: The offensive line will be expected to shoulder the load this season for the Cardinals, who return much of their senior leadership in that unit. Quick starts are a key. Richardson brings some athletic zip to the quarterback position, averaging nearly eight yards per carry in 2018.
CEDAR CREEK CHRISTIAN
Head coach: Jamie Gamel, seventh year (32-39).
Last year: 7-3.
Key returners: Edward Berry (OL/DL, Sr., 6-4, 291); Ethan Floyd (OL/DL, Sr., 6-0, 170); Cameron Holler (QB/DB, Sr., 5-8, 145); Zach James (TE/LB, Sr., 5-11, 175).
Key newcomers: Demaci Griffin (RB/DB, Jr., 5-7, 155); Keyon Paige (RB/DB, Fr., 5-7, 163).
Outlook: Stability strengthens the Saints, who put together a solid seven-win season last time out and aren't expecting drastic changes for 2019. They've got power in the trenches that starts with two-way linemen Berry and Floyd, while the defensive backfield also shows signs of promise.
Head coach: Jim Stomps, fifth year (23-16).
Last year: 4-6.
Key returners: Ben Anderson (QB, Sr., 5-11, 170); Hunter Hollis (WR, Jr., 5-8, 170); Matt Jaroszeski (OT, Sr., 6-5, 270); Cadence Lampp (RB/WR, Sr., 6-0, 200); Zac O'Connor (LB, Jr., 5-7, 175); Andrew Partyka (LB, Jr., 6-0, 180); Dawson Schnepel (SS, Jr., 5-10, 170); Aeden Sheehan (WR, Sr., 6-5, 185).
Outlook: A deep run in the Sunshine State Athletic Conference is the target for Christ's Church, which returns a pack of multi-year starters on both sides of the ball. Stomps feels the Eagles' line play will be the best during his tenure, while the team expects to force turnovers with a swarming, high-pressure defense.
Head coach: Charles Mickens, first year.
Last year: 0-6.
Key returners: Dewayne Brown (DB, Sr., 5-9, 150); Joseph Christian (LB, Sr., 5-10, 172); Keyante Eady (RB, Sr., 5-8, 165); Ernest Johnson (QB, Sr., 5-11, 150); Darran Mathis (SS, Sr., 5-10, 170); Erron Moore (WR, Jr., 6-3, 170); Michael Pough Jr. (RB, Sr., 5-6, 180).
Key newcomers: Rashay Bradley (WR, Fr., 6-0, 195); Wendell Russ Jr. (LB, Sr., 6-0, 185).
Outlook: After playing a six-game schedule in 2018, the Eagles continue to grow their program under Fleming Island graduate Mickens in pursuit of their first 11-man victory. Joshua Christian fields a considerably larger roster this year, a good sign for future growth.
Head coach: Bobby Dan McGlohorn, second year (2-8).
Last year: 2-8.
Key returners: C.J. Brooks (OL/LB, Sr., 6-1, 200); Levi Hohman (RB/LB, Sr., 5-11, 185); Will Moon (TE/DE, So., 6-5, 240); Evan Novak (TE/DE, Jr., 6-1, 200); Sebastian Reichardt (OL/DL, Sr., 6-2, 260); Max Sushinskiy (DL, So., 5-10, 190); Austin Walker (QB, Jr., 5-11, 170); Cade Windham (WR, So., 5-11, 170).
Key newcomers: Jaiden Heath Martinez (WR/DB, Jr., 6-3, 185); Thomas Woods (RB/DB, Jr., 5-9, 160).
Outlook: After graduating Division I prospects like Jamauri Wakefield, Carter Bradley and Will Mallory in recent seasons, the Stallions move into the independent ranks for 2019. They'll return Hohman, a breakout running threat who gained yards in bunches last year, as well as some key defensive pieces in Brooks and two-way end Moon.
ST. JOHNS COUNTRY DAY
Head coach: Derek Chipoletti, second year (3-6); ninth year overall (54-30).
Last year: 3-6.
Key returners: Max Arnold (WR/DB, Jr., 5-9, 155); Liam Bielik (OG, Sr., 6-1, 225); Marcus Coleman (WR/DB, Jr., 5-11, 150); Joe Shimko (C, Sr., 5-10, 180).
Key newcomers: Mason Davis (LB, Jr., 5-11, 175).
Outlook: The rebuilding process continues for the Spartans, but St. Johns returns a couple of key building blocks on the offensive front in Bielik and Shimko. Meanwhile, there's a race to replace transferred quarterback Max Monroe. Resolve that, and Arnold and Coleman are both threats to gain yardage deep downfield.
Clayton Freeman/The Times-Union