Buchholz (10-1) and Bartram Trail (8-3) will meet tonight for the 7A regional semifinals showdown. Buchholz recently took down Edgewater (36-27) in the regional quarterfinals. Buchholz head coach Mark Whittemore believes both good and bad came out of their victory over the Eagles. He says work needs to be done in the rushing game as they prepare to face upcoming opponents. On the flip side, Whittemore says the passing game went well during the win with quarterback Jackson White at the helm. Up next for the Bobcats is Bartram Trail after they defeated Oviedo Hagerty 28-21.
Bartram Trail is coached by Darrell Sutherland who Whittemore believes to be great at his job. Whittemore believes Bartram Trail knows how to win and how to stay consistent every year. A huge part of their success has come from their unique offense in the quarterback position. Although Buchholz only utilizes one quarterback, Jackson, as opposed to Bartram Trail’s two-quarterback system, Whittemore says the two teams have similarities. Buchholz’s Jackson has 2,603 passing yards and 24 touchdowns (ten INTs). The chemistry between Jackson and his teammates is what Whittemore says is impressive in terms of how they come together as a team. With a different offensive system, Bartram Trail uses both quarterbacks Jordan Smith (1,512 passing yards and 16 TDs) and Joey Gatewood (848 rushing yards, 502 passing yards, and four TDs).
While preparing for Bartram Trail, Whittemore understood the Bears had strengths on both sides of the ball. Whittemore says Sutherland has run multiple defensive schemes with both the line and secondary. The Bears defense has allowed 26.9 points per game on the season thus far. Buchholz will not only have strengths on both sides of the ball, but will have the home field advantage at Citizens Field. Whittemore says hosting a playoff game gives the team motivation.
The Bobcats have improvements to make on their part and key strategies they will need to implement against the Bears. Dominating defensively is what Whittemore thinks will be the key to winning the game against the Bears. Buchholz’s defense has given up 20.3 points per game so far this season. Whittemore is aware that both sides of the ball must be on point to be successful tonight. He says the offense will have to step up their game in order to not only score, but to help the defense. All in all, the team has shown similarities to the Florida Gators when it comes to getting things done. Whittemore says the team has matured throughout the season and have learned to figure out how to win in the end.
Buchholz hosts Bartram Trail tonight on Citizens Field at 7:30 PM. If either Buchholz or Bartram Trail win, one will travel to Columbia or Tallahassee Lincoln in regional finals on November 27th.