District 3 Preview: Oak Hall Looks To Repeat

 

Author’s Note: This is the first of what I hope will be 32 District Previews, pending the return of the Preview Questionnaires.  I’m asking all Head Coaches to please finish filling out the questionnaires.  If you think you did not get one first please check your Spam/Junk folders as many of you utilize a school district address and there’s a possibility that the questionnaire is sitting there.  If so, please remember to add me to your safe recipient list for the future!

Parents, if you don’t see a preview for your school in a story let the coach know you are ready to help them with it!  For 7 years I have tried to bring this state as much free content as possible and I really see no reason why a program can’t take the 5-10 minutes to do this for us.  The website has a national following and I can assure you that MANY college programs, if not most of them, follow us as a way to keep up with potential recruits, at ALL levels . . . D1-D3, NAIA, MCLA.  Remind them you are interested in this!

 

District 3 Preview:

Last season Oak Hall came out of District 3 behind a strong senior class and made their way to the Final Eight in the state, giving Final Four participant Ponte Vedra all they could handle, and finished #10 in our Final Media Poll.  Can they continue to sustain the program and will the other schools in the District continue their improvements?  Newberry unfortunately has not fielded a varsity team this year, joining PK Yonge from last season in falling behind.

Last season’s Regular Season (from MaxPreps):

 

School Name *W-L *Pct. W-L Pct. GF GA
Oak Hall 7-0 1.000 16-3 0.842 295 61
Buchholz 6-1 0.857 10-7 0.588 163 128
Forest 4-2 0.667 8-7 0.533 162 129
Gainesville 4-3 0.571 8-7 0.533 114 140
Santa Fe 3-4 0.429 8-7 0.533 110 121
Eastside 3-4 0.429 6-8 0.429 95 147
Newberry 1-7 0.125 1-11 0.083 66 135
Trinity Catholic 0-7 0.000 0-8 0.000 4 130

 

In the District playoffs Oak Hall cruised through the 2 games, yielding one goal combined.  Forest was able to avenge an OT loss to Buchholz in the regular season with a one goal semifinal win.  Going into the season it looks like Oak Hall is the comfortable favorite to repeat.

 

Oak Hall – 16-3, Final Eight in FHSAA Tourney

Coach Jonathan Montes looks to build on past success and he provided this preview to us:

“Expectations run high in Gainesville after progressing to its 1st ever Final 8 appearance, Oak Hall looks to make another run deep into the playoffs.  The class of 2019 is poised to take on full time leadership after graduating a senior class that produced 6 college level players, 2 High School All Americans and earned a 16-3 record. Senior attackman Kyle Cox (Mercer University – 31G/69A), senior attack/midfield Ryan O’Leary (University of North Carolina – 35G/61A) and senior midfielder Brad Vincent (Rollins College – 22G/31A) will shoulder the majority of the offensive responsibilities.  Much of the offense will depend on getting timely production from junior Romer Kohlhaas and returning starter sophomore Ben Moraski (31G/2A).

The coaching staff is thrilled with the offseason development of junior Connor Clarke and he could be the team’s breakout player this year on both sides of the ball.  Look for key contributions early from freshmen Cade Balogh, Michael Moreschi, Monte Gonzalez and Tommy Mandese.  At the defensive midfield, senior Grant Pita returns to lead this group and will provide great leadership.  After Pita, there is a multi-way battle for playing time with guys such as sophomore Rocco Falisi, freshman Cannon Carr and others looking to get into the mix.

 

 

On the defensive side of the ball, returning starter sophomore Shayne Ryan (60% saves) is arguably one of the top goalies in the state in the 2021 class.  Senior Alex Anderson will push Ryan for playing time while provided much needed leadership.  Freshman Aiden Smale will provide much needed depth at the position.   The strength of the team could very well be in the defense with senior Jack Limon (Hampden Sydney College – 68gbs/26 takeaways) holding down both close and LSM when needed.

Junior Jackson Ryan and sophomore Jacob Limon will move into starting spots at close after spending last year at the defensive midfield position and backups at close.  Sophomore Kyle Pollock will push for playing time after playing varsity last year as an 8th grader.  There will be a major battle for playing time after that with talented freshmen, Georgi El-Semarani, Carter Coleman, Walker Smith and David Farrant all looking to get into the mix.”

 

Buchholz 10-7, District Semifinalist

Coach Casey Adams looks towards a strong senior class to challenge for the District.  Here’s his input for the season:

What are your expectations this season for the team?

Buchholz expects to make some headlines this season. We have a stellar senior class, with juniors who can play ball too. We retain all of our playmakers from the 2018 season, except our faceoff specialist. We upgraded our schedule so that others will see how serious we are.

 

 

Who are the returning players who will make a difference this season?

Jonny LeMoyne (2019, A), Phil Evans (2019, A), Austin Bedard (2019, M), McKinley Peter (2019, D), Evan Cloutier (2019, D), Jared Lamb (2020, A), Alex Hodge (2019, LSM) Graham Denault (2020 DM/FOGO).

What players do you expect to step up this year that didn’t get much playing time last year?

Chase Alexander (2019, D), David Seo (2020, LSM), David Berry (2019, M)

 

 

What are the games you are really looking forward to this season?

We always look forward to playing district rival Oak Hall. Buchholz v Oak Hall is one of the biggest rivalries in north central Florida, if not the biggest! We look forward to playing Lake Highland Prep, and Nease to kick off our season.

 

Forest High – 8-7, District Finalist

A surprise District finalist in their first varsity year, Coach Kyle Strausser leads Forest High into the second season on a path to further success.  His preview is as follows:

What are your expectations this season for the team?

In our inaugural year, we finished 2nd in the district. This year we plan to make a return trip to the district championship, and as always, improve on our 8-7 record from last season.

 

 

Who are the returning players who will make a difference this season?

Cade Hightower 24G/13A, Blake Bondank (Flagler) 21GB/12TA, Max Blessing 56GB/10TA, Drew Flagg 29G/4A, Brady Clark 20GB/14TA

What players do you expect to step up this year that didn’t get much playing time last year?

Ty Head, Braeden Forrest, Carter Jackson, Jackson Pizzuti

 

 

What are the games you are really looking forward to this season?

Buchholz has turned into a good rivalry. There is a mutual respect between the teams as well as Coach Adams and myself. Oak Hall is always a tough game and a good look at where we are as a program.

 

Gainesville 8-7, District Semifinalist

Head Coach Evan Milch has Gainesville High on the right path in an area of the state that is getting the lacrosse fever and his 8-7 record last year included qualifying in a District that has more than 4 competitive programs.  Here’s how he sees the upcoming season:

What are your expectations this season for the team?

Over the last couple of years, our team has been successful in making it to the district tournament. This year we are looking to improve tremendously and compete for a district championship.

 

 

Who are the returning players who will make a difference this season?

We have a very strong and experienced senior class of 11 seniors. Senior Attackman J.T. Hayes was our most productive offensive player last year and is looking to have a successful senior season. Seniors Isaac Meacham and Drew McDougall are some of the most athletic and versatile midfielders in District 3 and are always reliable and productive. Senior Jacquez Wallace is a fast, physical, and aggressive LSM that can be a shut-down defender and disrupt offenses. And Senior goalie Greg Sulander has always been a reliable goalie but is looking to have an even more productive senior season.

 

 

What players do you expect to step up this year that didn’t get much playing time last year?

Senior Midfielder Jacob Kirkpatrick is one of the faster and more athletic players on our team and is looking to have a successful season contributing on both sides of the ball. Junior Midfielder Aiden DeTurris had a tremendous offseason and is looking to be a helpful contributor as a short-stick defensive midfielder. Senior Midfielder Dre Butler spent the offseason working on his game and made significant improvement and will be a serious contributor on both sides of the ball.

What are the games you are really looking forward to this season?

After an overtime thriller last season, we are looking forward to our first game of the year against Menendez. We are also very excited for a few first-time matchups against Maclay and Stanton Prep.

 

Santa Fe – 8-7, missed District playoff

Santa Fe is also a newer program and Head Coach Wayne Macuirzynski is pointing his team towards taking that next step in year three.

What are your expectations this season for the team?

To have a breakout 3rd season!

 

 

Who are the returning players who will make a difference this season?

Luke Lower, Spencer Bonfiglio, Evangelo DelValle, Kaleb Koziol, Tevin Smith

What players do you expect to step up this year that didn’t get much playing time last year?

Donavin Jones, Seth Smith

What are the games you are really looking forward to this season?

Gainesville and Forest

 

Eastside High – 6-8, missed District playoff

Head Coach Brian Mooney leads Eastside into a season where his expectations are growing along with the depth of his program.  Here’s his preview of the team:

What are your expectations this season for the team?

Our expectations for this season is for the team to keep taking steps forward, and to build off the foundation we created last season. We have a lot of returning players from last season that will be big time contributors for us, and some players that have put in the work in the offseason that have grown. We feel this season the team has the most depth it has had in quite a few years.

Our goal is the same as every year which is making it to the district tournament for a shot at the state playoffs. It’s a tough task with district perennial power teams like Buccholz and Oak Hall in the way, and the other up and comers in our district like Gainesville, Forest Ocala, and Santa Fe, but we feel our team will be up to the task and ready to play whoever we encounter. As long as our player stick to our team motto “Trust the Process” we feel the sky is the limit for our team this season.

 

 

Who are the returning players who will make a difference this season?

Sheldon Hardy: Sr. Midfield, (Still deciding) Sheldon is our do it all midfielder who really stepped up last season earning Team MVP and was selected 1st Team All-Area. The Senior Captain was also named to the North Florida Lacrosse “24” watch list and will see time all over the field, and be a big time contributor for us. 2018 Stats: 27 Goals, 15 Assists, (42 points), 97 groundballs, 113-202 face-offs 56%, 7 caused-turnovers

Wil Bullard: Jr. Attack, Wil carried a lot of the load for our offense last year earning himself team Offensive Play of the Year and was selected 1st team All-Area. The junior lefty attackman who was also named to the North Florida Lacrosse “24” watch-list, is as competitive as they come and is on the cusp of breaking some significant school records this season. 2018 Stats: 47 Goals, 5 Assists, (52 points)

Sam Long: Sr. Attack, (Lebanon Valley commit) Before an injury shortened his junior season Sam was on his way to putting up some big time numbers last year. The senior attacker is a natural leader and will be an enormous help in facilitating the offense this season. 2018 Stats: 7 goals, 3 assists, (10 points) 12 ground balls (only 3 games) (2017-18 All-Area HM)

Kentavious “Kj” Johnson: Jr. Midfield, KJ had a breakout sophomore season in which he was selected 2nd team All-Area. After putting in a lot of work over the offseason at LCG, look for the junior midfielder to have a big contribution on the offensive side of the ball for us this season. 2018 Stats: 1 goal, 44 groundballs, 14 caused-turnovers

Lincoln Weaver: Jr. Defenseman, Lincoln is a player who could be poised to have a big season for our defense. The true definition of a student-athlete, our team renaissance man is part Olympic weightlifter, actor, and lacrosse player. Look for the junior defenseman to step up in a big way and be a leader on the defense this season. 2018 Stats: 48 groundballs, 19 caused-turnovers (2018 All-Area HM)

Todarius “TD” Sumpter: Jr. Defenseman, TD is another player to watch on this defense. One of our big time football players on the team, TD is our “enforcer” who makes players pay for driving the alleys and trying to get shots off. 2018 Stats: 15 groundballs, 11 caused-turnovers (2018 All-Area HM)

What players do you expect to step up this year that didn’t get much playing time last year?

Zion Reed: So. Midfield, Zion is a fast rising midfielder, who could end up being a big time contributor for us as a two-way middie. The three sport athlete, has all the physical tools to be a great lacrosse player, watch for him to make a name for himself this season. 2018 Stats: 2 goals, 10 groundballs, 2 caused-turnovers

Josh Hill: Jr. Goalie, Josh looks to fill some big shoes, after our Senior Goalie and 2nd Team All-Area player RJ Rooney graduated last year. Josh saw some limited time last year but will have to come up big in goal if the team wants to reach its potential this season. 2018 Stats: 12 saves, 60% save percentage

Edojah Briggs: Jr. SSDM, Edojah is another player who has really taken to the game of lacrosse and has been working on his craft all offseason. Look for this junior short stick d-midfielder to lock down some opponents this year. 2018 Stats: 2 groundballs, 1 caused turnover

King Reeves: Jr. Midfield, King is one of the more athletically gifted players on our team. Once his stick skills match this athleticism watch out. 2018 Stats: 2 assists, 19 groundballs, 1 caused turnover

Nate Cuneo: So. Attack, Nate was a freshman attack last year who had to be thrown into the fire and handled himself well. Look for Nate with another year of experience to have gained some confidence and contribute more on offense. 2018 Stats: 5 goals, 1 assist, 5 groundballs

What are the games you are really looking forward to this season?

Gainesville: Rivalry game, always fun and competitive. Hope to really give them our best this year, after falling apart in the second half against them last season.

Buchholz/Oak Hall: If we want to be the best we have to beat the best.

 

Trinity Catholic 0-8, missed District playoff

We have not received a response from the program.

 

 

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