HILLIARD, Fla. – Hilliard Middle-Senior High School quarterback Nathan Dowie has made significant progress since he was hospitalized following Friday’s game with bleeding on the brain.
Dowie, 18, was injured when he was hit while scoring a touchdown in the third quarter of Hilliard’s 21-18 loss to Oak Hall. Despite staying in the game, he was rushed to the hospital afterward.
"I winced whenever I saw (the hit)," Dowie’s father, Sean, told News4Jax. "He hit his head on the ground and sort of flipped over. He got back up and I thought, 'Okay, he must be fine.'"
At UF Health Jacksonville, the 18-year-old was sedated and underwent emergency surgery to fix the brain bleed. Also known as subdural hematoma, it happens when blood pools outside brain.
While these injuries can be minor in some cases, they also have the potential to be deadly.
Dowie’s friends and family got a dose of good news Monday when the wife of Hilliard assistant coach Byron Crews, posted a tweet saying Dowie’s breathing tube had been removed.
"Great news his breathing tube is out and he is moving all his extremities. Not awake yet but it’s one step closer we are so happy!" the tweet said.
In text messages, Crews told News4Jax on Monday that the team followed the head injury protocol outlined by the Florida High School Athletic Association when it came to the hit Dowie suffered.
"I will say that everything was done the right way as I have close emotional ties of this kid not just his coach," Crews said, noting that the team has a trainer on site and does everything "by the book."
While Dowie remains in the hospital, a banner carrying his name, picture and number hangs outside Hilliard Middle-Senior High School. Freshman Allie Middleton spoke glowingly of Dowie.
"I know the impact he has on our school," she said. "He is a great athlete, he is a Christian kid, he stays in church -- he's a great role model for all the lower classmen."
Attempts to reach a Nassau County schools spokesperson for comment Monday were unsuccessful.