Running back Dominique Holman helped key one of the biggest upsets in recent Public High League football history the fall of 2014, when he just kept picking up first downs to milk the clock for the Gateway Jaguars on the way to an epic 7-6 playoff conquest of the defending, three-time league champion Career Academy Phoenix.
Linebacker Fabian Harris, a transfer from the state of Georgia, was the focal point of the 2015 Jaguars’ defense, which won the regular season PHL title before being edged out by the rival Vashon Wolverines 6-0 in the playoffs. Harris finished with 90 tackles, five fumble recoveries and four sacks.
On the other side of the ball, Donnell Williams had a breakout year as a receiver this past season, after showing flashes of promise previously. Williams, a big receiver physically, came up big on the field, with 41 receptions for 713 yards and 14 touchdowns for a Jaguars attack, which also got 1,003 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns from Holman. Williams was also aided by the presence of fellow receiver Montavion Carroll who had for 15 catches for 135 yards.
“While everybody knew Donnell was the go-to guy, Montavion emerged as the ‘backside’ receiver,” said Gateway coach Jason Dulick. “He had a lot of big plays for us this past season..”
Although Gateway will be sending others off to college from the 2016 graduating class, these are just four of their players who signed letters of intent recently to take their respective talents to the next level. Harris and Holman signed with McKendree University in nearby Lebanon,Ill, Williams chose the Volunteer State to continue his gridiron exploits by signing with the University of Tennessee-Martin and Carroll chose Missouri Valley College in Marshall.
“We are excited about our players,” said Gateway coach Jason Dulick. “It is a great opportunity for our players to be on scholarship and get a chance to play football, while pursuing a college degree.”
Holman acknowledged that many factors played into his selection process, including his academics, the style of offense the Bearcats employ and his father Andre Holman’s endorsement of his decision.
“Well I chose McKendree because it’s a great school, on and off the field,” he said. “The football players attitude towards the upcoming years is much like how my teammates are in high school. They made me feel comfortable, like I had already been to battle with them on the field. Also in the classroom, they have one of the best programs in the nation in the field of sports management training, which is what I want to major in. My recruiting coach (Michael) Harrison just told me I could be an immediate impact guy to fit their style of offense,” relayed Holman. “It’s similar to the style of offense that my high school coach Dulick called. It’s a spread-type of offense with one running back and sometimes a pistol-type formation. My dad was very passionate about all the visits I took, but this school he felt it was a great fit. The environment was great: from the professors to the students. He just wanted me to go where the school can groom me into being a better young man and a better athlete.”
While Holman is set as a running back at McKendree, Harris is leaving his position role open for coaches’ evaluation.
“I am going to enter as an athlete to make myself more usable as well as opening my opportunity to play more on the offensive,” explained Harris. “I feel I would make more of an impact on my team.”
Along with the aforementioned Gateway players, McKendree scored a major coup in signing Clayton star quarterback Anthony Cameron. The Bearcats, who compete in the Great Lakes Valley Conference in Division II, posted an 8-2 mark last season, which included a few lopsided triumphs over programs which compete against them for St. Louis-area talent. Consider that the Bearcats overwhelmed Lincoln University of Jefferson City 65-0, Quincy (Ill.) 56-30 and Truman (formerly Northeast Missouri) 31-3.
One in-state college which is aiming to secure more St. Louis athletes is Missouri Valley, which just inducted longtime Roosevelt High head coach and former Missouri Valley College star running back DeAndre Campbell into its Hall of Fame this past fall. From this PHL graduating class, Missouri Valley has signed Carroll for now, but others may follow shortly, since small colleges commonly a few late signings.
As far as Carroll is concerned, he could emerge as a contributor from either side of the ball. On defense at Gateway he came up with 26 tackles and five interceptions from his corner back position. But as is often the case with defensive backs, numbers only tell part of the story.What it doesn’t show, much like NFL star corners is how often coaches and quarterbacks avoided throwing in his direction.
“He had a lot of big plays for us this past year,” said Dulick of Carroll. “His senior year he really came of age. He really developed as a defensive back. He had numerous take-aways and became a shutdown corner.”.