All-News4JAX boys lacrosse: Maddox Johnson worked hard to leave legacy at Ponte Vedra

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Maddox Johnson remembers it well.

One of his friends approached him about a sport called lacrosse. Part inquisitive, part willing to give any activity a try, Johnson talked to his family about the opportunity.

He figured, ‘Why not,’ and gave it a shot.

That was in second grade.

Since then, Johnson, the first All-News4JAX boys lacrosse player of the year and Ponte Vedra attack/midfielder, has not slowed down.

“They just signed me up for a practice and I’ve been playing ever since with no stops,” he said.

Not for a break. Not to admire his lengthy list of achievements. Not for much of anything, which is the style he presents on the field. The lightning quick and cutting senior was the runaway selection as the area’s best by coaches. They raved about his offensive acumen and ability to create shots.

One area coach said it simply: “You can’t guard him.”

Johnson, who has signed with Denver, got hooked in the sport during his elementary years and said that dominance wasn’t always that way.

On a team that was coming off the most dominant season in area history, Johnson had to excel just to make it onto the field at Ponte Vedra. The Sharks were a national brand and their lineup was stacked to the press box with players who were bound for major college programs.

Johnson wanted to eventually be one of those players who others looked up to. And the only way to do that was to face the best. At Ponte Vedra, Johnson got a daily dose of that in practice. While players like Jack Dowd and Mr. Lacrosse winner Maximus Schalit graduated the year before Johnson arrived, there was no shortage of talent remaining.

Dylan Hess (Georgetown), Nolan Parlette (Air Force) and Carter Parlette (Notre Dame) were all integral pieces of Ponte Vedra’s team during Johnson’s freshman year. They were players he looked up to and tried to emulate.

“I mean, playing with guys like that, I was surrounded by them [stars] on my attack line. Two DI commits and me, a lefty freshman weighing probably 140 pounds,” Johnson said. “Playing with them really just elevated my game, trying to play up to what they could play to. Really helped me out building my confidence for the next three years of my career.”

Those players Johnson mentioned were forces on the best team in area history. Those three were important pieces of a 2019 Sharks squad that went 24-1, romped to a state title and held the No. 1 ranking in the country. The pandemic prevented a state title defense in 2020, but Johnson said that experience he gained was significant.

It helped steel Johnson into a slashing attack player who could take over a game. They also showed Johnson how to handle the tradition of playing for a powerhouse.

“I feel like I carried on the tradition pretty well,” he said. “I just tried to model myself off of Dylan and Carter and all them. F.A.F., fast and fun. We brought that in my sophomore year. I feel like that was already a precursor, but it was unspoken. I just really love playing fast and having fun. That’s what the sport is all about, and I just love to pass that down to the underclassmen, which those guys my freshman year passed down to me.”

All-News4JAX boys lacrosse team

Player, School, Class, Notable

Garren Berkman, Bartram Trail, Sr.

Class 1A FSLCA first-team All-State selection. Belmont Abbey College signee.

Gavin Boree, Bolles, Jr.

Strong attack player had 83 goals, 42 assists in breakout season for the Bulldogs. Class 1A FSLCA first-team All-State selection. High Point University commit.

Caleb Coleman, Bolles, Sr.

Versatile attack/midfield player scored 57 goals with 12 assists. Had 111 goals in two seasons. Class 1A FSLCA first-team All-State selection. University of Vermont signee.

Lad Harper, Ponte Vedra, Jr.

Won 70% of his faceoffs (183 of 263). Had four goals and a pair of assists for a 16-6 Sharks program that faced one of the most difficult schedules in the state.

Garrett Jobe, Bolles, Sr.

Goalie helped lead the Bulldogs to the Class 1A state championship game. Had 176 saves on 315 shots (55.8 save percentage). Queens University of Charlotte signee. Class 1A FSLCA first-team All-State selection.

Maddox Johnson, Ponte Vedra, Sr.

The midfielder and All-News4JAX player of the year had an excellent season for the Sharks. Scored 51 goals and added 11 assists. Has signed with Denver. Class 2A FSLCA first-team All-State selection.

Daylin John-Hill, Bolles, Jr.

Another integral part of the Bolles attack. Found the net 81 times and had 74 assists as Bulldogs reached the Class 1A state championship game. Class 1A FSLCA first-team All-State selection. Jacksonville University commit.

Will Krupsky, Fleming Island, Sr.

Had a stellar final season for the Golden Eagles, scoring 58 goals and adding 32 assists. Finished his career with 123 goals, 60 assists. Has signed with Jacksonville University. Class 2A FSLCA first-team All-State selection.

Luke Lowery, Ponte Vedra, Sr.

Long stick middle is a U.S. Lacrosse All-American selection and the area’s best at that position. Headed to Dartmouth.

CJ Miller, Nease, Sr.

High-scoring attack player had big year on the offensive side of the ball. Scored 81 goals. Added 24 assists, 39 ground balls. Class 2A FSLCA first-team All-State selection.

Jack Pelot, Ponte Vedra, Jr.

Goalie stopped 145 of 267 shots (54.3 save percentage) for 16-6 Sharks.

Ian Schultz, Creekside, Sr.

Had 32 assists, 27 goals for the 14-6 Knights. Team-best 119 ground balls.

Spencer Surface, Bolles, Sr.

Midfielder had 60 goals, 26 assists and a vital part of a Bulldogs team that was ranked No. 1 in the Super 6 half the season and reached the Class 1A title game. Had 46 ground balls, 21 takeaways. Class 1A FSLCA first-team All-State selection. Washington & Lee signee.

Honorable mention

Player, School, Class

Robert Adams, Episcopal, Fr.

Ethan Binns, Bolles, Jr.

Corey Bloss, Ponte Vedra, Sr.

Greer Boree, Bolles, Fr.

Andrew Carter, St. Augustine, Sr.

Brandon Carter, St. Augustine, Sr.

Tre Carter, Episcopal, So.

Tucker Chappell, Episcopal, So.

JP Dolan, Ponte Vedra, Fr.

John Allen Ginder, Bolles, Sr.

Bryce Hogan, Bolles, Jr.

Tanner Hogan, Bolles, Sr.

Jaden Jablonski, Providence, Fr.

Jude Kobrin, Episcopal, Fr.

Connor Kunce, Nease, Jr.

Noah Lawless, Menendez, Sr.

Dylan Meade, St. Augustine, Sr.

Sam Ogleetree, Episcopal, Fr.

Tanner Parlette, Ponte Vedra, Jr.

River Penland, Episcopal, Sr.

Joseph Pollock, Creekside, Sr.

Kevin Wolfe, Bolles, Sr.

About the Authors:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.