By Max Mattern
Buchholz’s coach Mark Whittemore knew the team had to have a flawless game to even compete with GHS Friday night at Citizen’s Field.
On the first play of the game, Buchholz High School’s quarterback, Jordan Nichols, pitched the ball right to running back, Logan Weekes where he got pummeled by the Gainesville High School’s talented line backing corps for a two-yard loss.
The very next play Nichols lined up in a shotgun formation, looking like he was going to throw it against GHS’s defense—he never even got the chance.
When the ball left the center’s hands, it soared over Nichols’ head. He was in a dead sprint with nearly half of GHS’s defense to pick up the ball, but Nichols’ had no luck. Linebacker Keon Jenkins recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, and GHS never looked back.
Buchholz had more than a few flaws in the game.
Undefeated GHS (6-0, 2-0) put on a clinic against city rival Buchholz by a score of 44-7. This is the fourth consecutive year GHS has won the City Championship.
The flaws for Buchholz piled up in the game: four fumbles, five delay of game penalties, and three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to name a few. This was not the type of day the team needed to have.
Nichols left the game with a shoulder injury after going 1-for-8 with 3 yards passing during the first half. Whittemore put in sophomore playmaker Ahmad Ivey.
Ivey has played running back, receiver, corner back, and return man, but did not throw the ball coming into the game. It showed since he went 1-for-7 with negative 3 yards. Buchholz left him in though because of his explosive running.
Ivey ran the ball 13 times for 77 yards, including a 40-yard dash for the lone score for the Bobcats. Buchholz has a talented playmaker in Ivey but need to find pieces to put around him.
On the other side of the field, GHS’s offense was on point all game long.
GHS senior quarterback Mark Cato lit up Buchholz’s defense, throwing 12-for-22 with 223 yards and four touchdowns. His accuracy could not be ignored in the game.
He went into halftime throwing 9-for-10. In the second half, Cato tossed a few jump balls in the air to avoid getting sacked, but other than that, he definitely impressed. Division I scouts could be looking at him soon.
All the talk about GHS’s receivers seem to be focused on University of Florida commit Chris Thompson, but that was not the case for this game. Case Harrison and Kenric Young caught all the passes from Cato.
Young finished the day with five catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns as Harrison ended up with five catches, 123 yards and two scores for himself. He also rushed once for a 1-yard touchdown.
Considering Thompson has been out for the past few games, he was getting integrated into the speed of real-time football. He finally got playing time, but clearly the coaching staff limited his touches. He played four snaps with one rush for seven yards and one catch for six yards.
GHS’s defense impacted the flow of Buchholz’s offense by forcing six sacks on the day.
Running back Rapheal Webb ran the ball 14 times for 91 yards. It was not his most impressive day, but coach James Thomson had a mindset of passing the ball.
The other key running back, Tony James, was out for the game. GHS are saving star players like James and Thompson for next week against Vanguard.