Alachua County football – playoff hopefuls

Mike_Ridaught_photo at SouthernBy Mike Ridaught
@ridaught

It’s been a banner season for Alachua County varsity football teams. This year, as many as six teams could make it into the FHSAA state playoffs. Last year, only one Alachua County team (Gainesville) got in.

Here are three key district games on Friday involving Alachua County teams and the outlook for the county as the regular season winds down.

Buchholz (6-1, 2-0 in 7A-District 3) at Fleming Island (Orange Park) (4-3, 1-2) – Bobcats got a big win last Friday at home in their first-ever game on their campus. They beat St. Johns Bartram Trail in the final minute to move to 2-0 in the district. Bobcats clinched their first winning season in 10 years & now have a chance to clinch their first district title since 2004 with a win this Friday. Fleming Island has won two in a row, including a 27-23 district win against Creekside, who Buchholz will host next week. Bartram Trail hosts Oakleaf on Friday, October 30, for the runner-up spot.

Cardiac Cats – Buchholz has won their last three games in the final minute

  • Quarterback Jackson White threw a 15-yard TD pass to Luke Whittemore (son of coach Mark Whittemore) with :24 left for a 35-28 win over Bartram Trail (Oct. 16)
  • White scored a 2-yard TD run with :48 to play to beat rival Gainesville, 32-28; they trailed by 17 points in the third quarter (Oct. 9)
  • White completed a 10-yard pass to Whittemore to beat Vanguard, 33-32, with 39.5 seconds to play; Coby Weiss made the game-winning extra point and kicked a career-long 47-yard FG in the game; Bobcats rallied from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit (Sept. 25)

Gainesville (4-4, 2-1 in 6A-District 5) at Leesburg (2-5, 0-2) – The Purple Hurricanes, following the loss at home to Ocala Vanguard last Thursday, now face a must-win situation in 6A-District 5. If they lose, they could miss the playoffs for the first time in seven years. GHS had its 15-game district winning streak snapped by the Knights.

Leesburg was off last week. The Yellow Jackets have lost four in a row, but they gave Vanguard all they could handle on Oct. 2 in a 39-33 loss on the road.

Starting QB Caelan Christian, RB Chris King & WR Kyle McGriff had their suspensions reduced, however all three will miss this game. Christian & McGriff will be back for Eastside & King will return for the postseason.

Here’s why this game is big for GHS. A loss puts GHS at 2-2 in the district. Vanguard is on top of the league standings at 2-0 with Lake Weir at home this week and at Forest in two weeks. Forest is tied for second with GHS. If Vanguard wins this week and Forest wins next week, coupled with a GHS loss, then Vanguard & Forest would be in and GHS would be left out. If the Hurricanes win at Leesburg, they will either be district runners-up or play in a 3-team shootout on a Monday night in November for the right to go to the postseason.

Dixie County (5-2, 4-1 in 1A-District 7) at Newberry (5-2, 3-1) – Big district game with playoff implications. Both teams lost to Trenton. This game is for the runner-up spot.

It’s cut and dry in this district. If Dixie County wins, they’re in. If Newberry wins, and beats winless Bronson the following week, the Panthers are in. Newberry got crushed by Trenton last week, 54-6. They were down 40-0 at the half despite the fact Trenton had only run 13 offensive plays. They will have to limit the big plays against Dixie County.

The Bears lost at home to Trenton, 54-10, on September 25. Since the loss, Dixie County is 3-0 and has outscored their opponents, 126-12. The numbers are down for RB Julian Robinson (445 yards on 93 carries), who had over 1,800 yards last year, but quarterback Kyle Chesser has stepped in and thrown for over 800 yards with 9 TDs.

Newberry & Gainesville need to win to get in, along with Hawthorne, but Buchholz, Eastside & Santa Fe appear to be playoff-bound. As many as six teams are still alive for a postseason berth. That doesn’t include a 6-1 Oak Hall team which is an independent and will likely play in a bowl game. That’s a possible seven Alachua County teams playing a postseason game after having only one (Gainesville) last year.

In the past 15 years, there have been as many as four Alachua County teams in the playoffs at once, but not five or six. The last time there were five Alachua County football teams in the state playoffs was back in 1999. In fact, only once (1997) has there been as many as six Alachua County teams in the state playoffs.

Here are the six Alachua County playoff hopefuls for 2015 and state tournament appearances.

2015
Buchholz (7A) – Bobcats are on top of the 7A-District 3 standings with a 2-0 record and they can clinch their first district title since 2004 with a win at Fleming Island (Orange Park); first winning season in 10 years

Gainesville (6A) – can clinch a playoff spot with a win at Leesburg and a Vanguard win at Forest on Oct. 30

Eastside (5A) – clinches the runner-up spot in District 6 behind North Marion with a Colts’ win against Belleview.

Santa Fe (4A) – Raiders, seeking their first district title in 19 years, can clinch a playoff spot this Friday, Oct. 23, with a win at P.K. Yonge; they are two wins away from a district title

Newberry (1A) – a win against Dixie County on Oct. 23, followed by a win at home against Bronson (Oct. 30) clinches the runner-up spot in District 7-1A behind Trenton

Hawthorne (1A) – the Hornets can keep their playoff hopes alive in District 6-1A with a win against Fort White on Thursday, Oct. 29

2014
Gainesville (6A)

2013
Gainesville (6A)

2012
Buchholz (7A)
Gainesville (6A) – State Runners-up (Lost to Miami Central)
Eastside (5A)
Newberry (1A)

2011
Gainesville (6A)
Santa Fe (5A)
Hawthorne (1A)

2010
Gainesville (4A)
Hawthorne (1B)

2009
Gainesville (4A)
Hawthorne (1B)

2008
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
Newberry (2B)

2007
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
Newberry (2B) – State Runner’s up (Lost to Pahokee)

2006
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
Newberry (2B)
Hawthorne (1A)

2005
Gainesville (5A)
Eastside (4A)

2004
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
Santa Fe (3A)
P.K. Yonge (1A)

2003
Buchholz (5A)
Gainesville (4A)
P.K. Yonge (1A)
Hawthorne (1A)

2002
Buchholz (5A)
Hawthorne (1A)
P.K. Yonge (1A)

2001
Buchholz (5A)
Newberry (2A)
Hawthorne (1A)
P.K. Yonge (1A)

2000
Gainesville (5A)
Newberry (2A)
P.K. Yonge (1A)

1999
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
Santa Fe (3A)
Hawthorne (A)
P.K. Yonge (A)

1998
Gainesville (5A)
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
Santa Fe (4A)
Newberry (3A)

1997
Gainesville (5A)
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
P.K. Yonge (3A)
Newberry (3A)
Hawthorne (2A)

1996
Santa Fe (4A)
Hawthorne (2A)

1995
Buchholz (5A)
Eastside (4A)
Santa Fe (4A)
Newberry (3A)
Hawthorne (2A)

Other postseason appearances:

Buchholz – 1993, 1991, 1990 (4A state champions), 1989, 1987, 1986, 1983, 1982 & 1981
Eastside – 1992, 1979 & 1978
Gainesville – 1986, 1980 (3A state champions), 1978, 1977, 1976, 1967 & 1963
Hawthorne – 1985 & 1982
Newberry – 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1987, 1983, 1982, 1981 & 1970
Oak Hall – 1979
P.K. Yonge – 1993 & 1968
Santa Fe – 1994 (4A state champions), 1993, 1991 (3A state champions), 1988, 1987, 1986, 1984, 1976, 1975, 1972 & 1969 (Class B State Runners-up)