Buchholz beats rival Gainesville to remain undefeated
Through a dominant run game and a stifling defense, the Buchholz Bobcats defeated the Gainesville Hurricanes 35-7 to win one of Gainesville’s oldest and most passionate rivalry games Thursday at Citizens Field.
Led by senior running back Quinton Cutler, who had two rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in the first half, the Bobcats were able to impose their will on the Hurricane defense. Cutler leads the team in rushing and receiving yards as well as total touchdowns.
“We had a great game plan by our offensive coordinator and our coaching staff tonight. They put us in the best position to be the best that we can, all grace and all thanks to them,” said Cutler.
Sophomore quarterback Trace Johnson was also responsible for the offensive attack on display tonight. The son of Buchholz alum and former Florida Gator quarterback Doug Johnson, Trace has helped lead the Bobcats to a 6-0 record on the season, replacing Creed Whittemore. Whittemore was voted the 2022 Florida Mr. Football and is currently a freshman wide receiver at Mississippi State University.
As for the Buchholz defense, they didn’t allow a first down in the first half. Led by senior linebacker and Florida commit Myles Graham, the defense didn’t allow a point in the first half. Myles, a 4-star recruit, is the son of former Florida Gator and Tampa Bay Buccaneer running back Ernest Graham.
Despite the lopsidedness of the game, the intensity of this rivalry is still there for both teams.
“These kids grow up playing against each other. This rivalry is like fighting your brother,” said Phillip Knight.
Knight is the athletic director for Gainesville High School. He has worked with the Gainesville athletic program for 16 years.
These two programs not only share a home field, they also share a hometown.
Kirk Tapley is a Buchholz alum and an assistant principal at Gainesville High, giving him perspective on both sides of the rivalry.
“A lot of these people are friends outside of the football field. But when the Thursday before UF Homecoming hits, friendships cease to exist and it’s time to go to battle with each other,” said Tapley.
Both teams came into this game with first-year head coaches. But the situations they inherited are wildly different.
First-year Buchholz head coach Chuck Bell said he looks to continue to build on the foundation that former head coach Mark Whittemore established.
As the defensive coordinator of this team, Bell helped lead the team to state semifinal appearances in the last two years. With a 6-0 start and a team that is ranked 10th overall in the state, the team seems poised for another deep playoff run.
“The expectation going forward is to win a state championship,” Bell said.
For Buchholz, these expectations start with handling business in their own backyard.
“This senior class leaves having never lost to a single Alachua County school, so we’re really proud of our guys,” Bell said.
Gainesville’s first-year head coach Ian Scott is a former Gainesville High standout who went on to play for the Gators and in a Super Bowl with the Bears. He inherits a team that went winless last year and hasn’t beaten Buchholz since 2017. Despite the team’s 1-6 start, Gainesville is optimistic about its future.
“We needed to make a change to our old approach. He’s doing an excellent job -- it’s a slow process,” said Knight.
Scott’s experience playing and coaching football has brought excitement to the Hurricane fanbase. Before coming back to coach for his alma mater, Scott was an assistant defensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers.
“We couldn’t have hired a better coach for our situation than him. We’re so thankful to have him,” said Knight.
While Gainesville looks to the future, Buchholz sits in the present as a sobering reminder of the grip they have on Alachua County football.
“I don’t think that the scoreboard quite indicates the dominance we exuded on them tonight. I think that we have stronger players, I think that we have better players and I think we have a pretty good coaching staff,” said Bell.