A look ahead to the 2019 high school football season in Northeast Florida for Class 4A schools.

REGION 1-4A

BOLLES

Head coach: Matt Toblin, first year; eighth year overall (56-25)

Last year: 8-5; lost 34-7 to Trinity Christian in Region 1-5A final.

Key returners: Elias Batten (OL/DL, Sr., 6-5, 270); Simon Brackin (TE/LB, Sr., 6-3, 240); Chris Commander (LB, Sr., 6-1, 200); Jeremiah Johnson (QB, Sr., 6-1, 170); Sam Levin (OL, Sr., 6-1, 228); Ben Netting (QB, Sr., 6-1, 180); Will Netting (FS, Sr., 6-1, 185); Kenny Samuels (RB, Sr., 5-9, 195).

Key newcomers: Davis Ellis (WR, Jr., 6-0, 175); Caden Fordham (ATH, Jr., 6-1, 190); Kade Frew (WR, So., 5-8, 155).

Outlook: The Toblin era at Bolles begins with a new emphasis on the aerial game, with not one but two capable quarterbacks, and a new receiving target in Ellis, a prolific pass-catcher last season at Episcopal. Some growing pains are inevitable, but don't expect the fabled Bulldogs postseason streak — a run that now extends to 26 seasons — to come to an end this year.

 

BRADFORD

Head coach: Brian Tomlinson, third year (14-7).

Last year: 5-6; lost to P.K. Yonge 36-22 in Region 2-4A semifinals.

Key returners: Pedro Carter (QB, Jr., 6-1, 175); Nedro Davis (WR/DB, Sr., 5-11, 165); Malik Hankerson (LB, Sr., 6-0, 210); Erric Smith (RB, Jr., 5-10, 180); Gavin Woods (C, Sr., 6-1, 260).

Key newcomers: Dejon McBride (DT, Fr., 6-3, 280); Dayvionte Thompson (RB/DE, Fr., 6-2, 200).

Outlook: Tornado watch: The Tornadoes' ground game has the speed and elusiveness to spin through opponents' defensive fronts. In Smith, an 813-yard running back as a sophomore last season, and dual-threat quarterback Carter, Bradford has a one-two combination that's got the potential to win by pure stampede. There's less certainty on the defensive side of the ball, but if that comes together, a return trip to the playoffs should be in Bradford's future.

 

FERNANDINA BEACH

Head coach: Jude Swearingen, second year (2-8).

Last year: 2-8.

Key returners: Chase Boyd (RB/DB, Sr., 5-8, 172); Jeremiah Giedrys (WR/LB, Sr., 6-0, 175); Sam Loper (OL/DL, Jr., 6-4, 285); Cam Miller (RB/DB, So., 6-0, 165); Jackson Mock (QB, Jr., 6-1, 155); Max Pozzetta (TE/DE, Sr., 6-3, 180); Josiah Rauls (TE/LB, So., 6-2, 195); Rainer Richardson (OG/DE, Sr., 5-9, 185); Hampton Tanner (OL/DL, Jr., 6-3, 250).

Key newcomers: Willie Coleman (RB/LB, So., 6-1, 175); Thurman Marques (WR/DB, Jr., 5-10, 142).

Outlook: More than a decade has passed since the Pirates' last playoff game, but with several returners in the offensive backfield, Swearingen expects a more competitive Fernandina Beach squad in 2019. Boyd rushed for 540 yards last season, while Mock passed for 773 in a ground-heavy offense.

 

WEST NASSAU

Head coach: Rickey Armstrong, sixth year (32-20).

Last year: 9-3; lost 42-0 to Raines in Region 1-4A final.

Key returners: Eli Canode (TE, Sr., 6-3, 245), Chaz Davis (WR, Jr., 5-8, 160), Trent Fort (DB, So., 6-1, 180), Ethan Johns (RB/WR, Sr., 5-11, 180), Trey McCullough (OL, Jr., 6-5, 315), Centari Mitchell (QB/WR, Sr., 6-0, 170), Blayze Padgett (QB, Sr., 6-2, 185), Michael Thorn (DL, So., 6-3, 230).

Key newcomers: Chaz Hirschman (QB, Sr., 6-2, 190); Zavian Stanton (WR/DB, Sr., 6-0, 175); Bryson Williams (LB, Sr., 6-0, 210).

Outlook: In 2018, this was among the most underrated defensive units in the area. Can they keep it up? Not many teams in Northeast Florida have shown the hunger for the football quite like the Warriors, who were turnover-seeking machines in their drive to the regional final. With Raines now in Class 5A, West Nassau might be the main local obstacle standing between Bolles and a Region 1-4A title.

 

REGION 2-4A

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS

Head coach: Chuck Dickinson (21st year, 94-99).

Last year: 5-5.

Key returners: Andrew Cox (ATH, Sr., 6-1, 190); Jared Hughes (WR/DB, Jr., 6-0, 160); Layton Murphy (DL, Jr., 5-10, 175); Colton Tibbitts (WR/CB, Jr., 5-11, 170); Colby Townsend (FB/DE, Sr., 6-2, 220); Cody Wells (OL, Sr., 6-2, 250).

Key newcomers: Dalton Hollingsworth (RB/SS, So., 6-0, 170)

Outlook: With relatively low numbers for a Class 4A roster this year, Dickinson views Keystone's key as fairly straightforward: A young offensive line has to come together in a hurry. Cox, who has played just about every position during his Indians career, enters the fall as a candidate to line up at quarterback.

 

PALATKA

Head coach: Willie Fells, second year (3-7).

Last year: 3-7.

Key returners: Demontae Ashley (QB/CB, Sr., 5-9, 165); Ke'shawn Hughes (RB/DB, Sr., 5-10, 170); Wesley Roberts (WR, Sr., 6-3, 185); Nelson Williams (OT, Sr., 6-4, 218).

Outlook: The Panthers started 2018 well before stumbling midway through and dropping their last six. With a very young roster, Fells acknowledges the Panthers have "a lot of work ahead," particularly in a schedule where seven of the 10 opponents belong to larger classifications.

Clayton Freeman/The Times-Union