JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dom Henry had big goals.
They also seemed unrealistic. The Nease football team was limping off back-to-back one-win seasons. Outside and even inside their own school, the Panthers were somewhat of a running joke.
“Every Friday we’d have like these pep rallies, people would like record us on Snapchat and be like all this just to lose, and then make fun of us and make social media accounts about us just bashing us and it felt good, really proving them wrong.”
Henry, the All-NewsJAX offensive player of the year, played a large role in helping the Panthers prove many people wrong. He was the area’s biggest big play receiver, teaming up with first-team quarterback Marcus Stokes to pull off the unlikeliest of playoff runs in the area this year.
It all started before the season did, when Henry and Panthers players charted out their course for the year. Henry’s were outsized, especially for a player coming off of a hip injury.
“At the beginning of the season, Coach [Collin] Drafts had us come up and say our goals. My goal was 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. I mean, I just set the goals, I didn’t know if I could actually do it or not, but I’d just shoot for it. But obviously I ended up breaking those then.”
Henry not only sailed past his goals but wound up leading the entire state with 1,590 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. That total ranked 16th in the country.
Were his individual accomplishments a surprise for Henry?
“Definitely,” he said.
Nease’s goals, like Henry’s, were lofty, especially for a team with all of two combined wins across two seasons. The Panthers hit two wins by Week 3 and closed the season with a 7-3 mark. They reached the state playoffs as a No. 7 seed in Class 7A and then pulled off a first-round stunner at No. 2 seed Spruce Creek, 24-21.
Henry had a career-high 254 receiving yards in that game. Nease went on the road again and pulled off another shocker, a 24-19 win over Niceville, before losing to Gainesville Buchholz in the regional final.
“I think I surprised myself. I didn’t know … My goal, like when I was a junior, was to have around like 700, 800 yards. I thought that was like a more realistic goal for me,” Henry said. “But then, things happen, and I just started playing really well and got a lot better. But for the team, I knew we could always do this. I mean, we have the talent, we have the players. So, from the beginning, I knew.”
All-News4JAX football team
Pos., Player, School, Class
QB, Marcus Stokes, Nease, Jr.
Why he’s here: Led a spectacular Panthers turnaround by taking a one-win team to the regional finals. Passed for 2,672 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTs. Rushed for 496 yards and 8 TDs.
RB, Kade Frew, Bolles, Sr.
Why he’s here: One of the top backs in Bulldogs’ history. Three-year starter rushed for 1,476 yards, 22 TDs this season in 11 games. Finished career with 3,925 rushing yards, 523 receiving yards, 55 total TDs.
RB Cam Smith, Baker County, Jr.
Why he’s here: An all-purpose yardage machine. Had 1,967 total yards (1,339 rushing) and 18 TDs for Class 5A state semifinalist Wildcats.
RB Arthur Walker, Atlantic Coast, Sr.
Why he’s here: Rushed for 1,291 yards on 185 carries (7 ypc) and 16 TDs as Stingrays built off very good 2020 season and reached the playoffs again. Added 23 tackles from his LB position.
RB Treyaun Webb, Trinity Christian, Jr.
Why he’s here: Rushed for 1,192 yards, 11 TDs (8.1 ypc) in 10 games and torched the Class 2A playoff field. Had 99-yard TD run to preserve win in state semifinals.
WR D’Maurion Frazier, Clay, Sr.
Why he’s here: As Clay’s offense continues to evolve from run to pass, Frazier continued to show he was capable of being that big play receiver. Had 818 yards receiving, 9 TDs on 50 catches for 7-3 Blue Devils.
WR, Dom Henry, Nease, Sr.
Why he’s here: All-News4JAX offensive player of the year. Exceptional season for the 9-4 Panthers. A nightmare in the open field. His 1,590 receiving yards led the state. Added 13 TDs on 81 catches 65 rushing yards, TD. Also had a punt return TD.
TE Brandon Peavy, Clay, Sr.
Why he’s here: Top points producing tight end in the area. Scored a TD every 3.8 receptions. Had 25 catches for 269 yards, 7 TDs.
OL Chase Crews, Baker County, Sr.
Why he’s here: Key cog in one of the area’s top rushing attacks and helped push Wildcats to Class 5A state semifinals.
OL Cooper Fordham, Bolles, Jr.
Why he’s here: In the Bulldogs run-centric offense, he was a key in clearing holes for first-team RB Kade Frew.
OL Derrell Johnson, Riverside, Sr.
Why he’s here: Second-team All-News4JAX selection last season. Helped the Generals rack up 4,045 yards of offense and blocked for two very different QBs. Wake Forest signee.
OL Rod Kearney, Orange Park, Jr.
Why he’s here: Massive tackle (6-4, 300 pounds) was a bright spot for the Raiders. Four-star prospect was top lineman mentioned by area coaches.
OL Matthew McCoy, Creekside, Sr.
Why he’s here: Among area coaches, he was the top pick for offensive lineman. Graded out at 88% on the season.
K Liam Padron, Bartram Trail, So.
Why he’s here: Was on another level this season. Hit 18 of 24 field goals, including a long of 49 yards. Hit 33 of 35 PATs. Had a game-winner in a 16-13 victory over Creekside.
ATH Kareem Burke, Raines, Sr.
Why he’s here: Had 1,466 total yards, 11 TDs for 8-3 Vikings and was the most explosive player they had. Rushed for 861 yards, 4 TDs and had 605 yards and 7 TDs receiving.
ATH Chris Calhoun, Sandalwood, Sr.
Why he’s here: Dual-purpose QB was far bigger a threat as a runner than any area QB. Rushed for 1,365 yards, 17 TDs on 145 carries (9.4 ypc). Passed for 937 yards, 8 TDs.
ATH Christian Ellis, White, Sr.
Why he’s here: Did everything for the Commanders. Rushed for 1,396 yards, 10 TDs. Had 169 yards receiving, 2 TDs. Had 48 tackles, 3 sacks 3 fumble recoveries from his safety spot. University of New Mexico signee.
Pos., Player, School, Class
QB Colin Hurley, Trinity Christian, Fr.
Passed for 2,146 yards, 24 TDs. Completed 56% of his passes for Class 2A state champions.
RB Dalton Hollingsworth, Keystone Heights, Sr.
Rushed for 1,324 yards, 21 TDs in one of the best seasons in Indians’ history.
RB Mike Mitchell, Middleburg, Jr.
Rushed for 1,378 yards, 18 TDs this season, averaging 8.9 ypc as Broncos posted five-game improvement from 2020.
RB Darnell Rogers, Trinity Christian, So.
Rushed for 1,299 yards, 13 TDs on 190 carries (6.8 ypc) for state champs.
RB Alvin Gibson, Riverside, Jr.
Rushed for 984 yards, 17 TDs on 137 carries. Added 160 yards receiving and a TD.
RB Preston Strope, Creekside, Sr.
Had 1,268 rushing yards, 19 TDs on 238 carries; added 181 receiving yards, 2 TDs on 20 catches.
WR Taylor Bradshaw, Oakleaf, Jr.
Had 804 yards on 47 catches, 8 TDs for Knights.
OL Tommy Bridgewater Jr., First Coast, Sr.
Tough season for the Bucs, but he was consistent for them.
OL Kyle Duncan, Sandalwood, Sr.
On one of the top rushing teams in the area, he helped create big holes for Jordan Bean and Chris Calhoun.
OL Ethan Hoffstetter, Fleming Island, Jr.
Big presence on the line and one of the best OLs in Clay County.
OL Jason Jackson, St. Augustine, Sr.
Tackle was a three-year starter for the Yellow Jackets.
ATH Rayvon Durant, Union County, Jr.
Rushed for 1,344 yards, 15 TDs for 12-1 Tigers, averaging 12 yards per carry.
ATH Orel Gray, University Christian, Jr.
UC’s most valuable player missed time with injury but was indispensable. Had 13 rushing TDs.
ATH Eric Weatherly, Bartram Trail, Sr.
Versatile and could hurt opponents from a variety of spots on the field. Scored TDs rushing, passing, receiving and on returns. Duke signee.
K Seth Bialek, Trinity Christian, Jr.
Hit 12 of 16 field goals this season with a long of 37 yards. Also had 12 catches for 154 yards, 2 TDs.
OL Taelyn Ransom, Sr.
RB Jamarian Baker, Sr.; QB Noah Ray, Sr.; WR Jaymodd Ruise, Sr.
OL Hagen McQuaide, Sr.
TE Eli Sutherland, Sr.
WR Jayden Harris, Jr.; QB James Resar, So.
OL Brendan Black, Jr.; OL Reed Collins, Sr.; ATH Kavon Miller, Jr.
RB Manny Covey, Jr.; WR/DB Chalil Cummings, So.; QB Amari Jones, Sr.
OL Desiron Gantt, Sr.; QB Billy Mobley, Sr.
OL Jaycob Jones, Sr.; WR Marcus Peterson, Sr.; ATH Tray Tolliver, Jr.
QB Jacob Dennie, Sr.; WR Brendan McMillian, Jr.; OL Avery Swinton, Sr.
QB/S Jaylon Hunter, Sr.
WR Emauri Hampton, Sr.; RB Sajari Love, Jr.
RB Ershod Jasey, Sr.; WR Corey Scott, Jr.
WR Darion Domineck, Jr.; RB Sam Singleton, Jr.; OL Ethan Williams, Jr.
OL Jesse Thompson, Sr.
QB Lyle Bennett, Jr.; RB DJ Coston, Sr.; WR Bradyn Matto, So.
OL Quory Ambrose, So.; OL/DL Jeremiah Lovely, Jr.; QB Jalen Sonnier, Sr.
OL Mason Dicks, Sr.; OL/DL Caleb Moncrief, Sr.; OL Luke Snider, Sr.; RB/LB Logan Williams, Sr.
WR Kieren Jackson, Jr.; QB Tramell Jones, Fr.; WR Jeremiah Shack, Jr.
P/WR Caleb Freytag, Sr.; QB Luke Padgett, Sr.; OL Tanner Peery, Sr.
K Canaan Kimball, Sr.; RB/LB Donovan Wilson, Sr.
RB Devin Outlaw, Jr.; OL Wyatt Nordean, Sr.; TE/RB Isaiah Shevchook, Jr.
TE Maliek Carter, Sr.; WR Nolan Chambers, Jr.; RB Jojo Restall, Jr.
QB Jamarrie McKinning, Jr.
K Jhayrold Calderon, Jr.
OL Xavier Agatep, Jr.; K Davis Ashcroft, Jr.; ATH Nathan Bunkosky, Jr.; WR Wyatt Rogers, Jr.
TE/OL Will Moon, Sr.; RB/WR Tauvio Tauler, Sr.
WR Quincy Burroughs, Sr.; ATH Reshawn Latimer, Sr.
OL De’shun Jones, Sr.
WR Freddie Manning III, Sr.; QB Daniel Plummer, Sr.; QB Cale Zarah, Sr.
RB/DB Tyshawn Campbell, Sr.; QB Trevor Dirden, RB Devonte Lyons, So.
RB Jordan Bean, So.; K/P Christian Schultz, Sr.
WR Fred Highsmith, Sr.; OL Michael Trimble, Sr.
OL Alex Dure, Sr.; OL/DL Mikah Wilson, Jr.
OL Wyatt Butler, Sr.; WR Prentiss Davis, Sr.; OL Max Harrison; DB/WR AJ Miller, Sr.; RB/LB Conner Nobles, Sr.; QB Brady Wright, Jr.
WR Antwon McCrae, Jr.
OL Roddell Owens, Sr.; ATH Davaughn Patterson, Jr.; OL Dante Watts, Jr.
OL Alijah Robinson, Jr.; RB Tyler Terry, Jr.
WR Zackary Drawdy, Sr.; RB Jergotti Wilcox, Sr.; OL Nate Williams, Jr.r