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Buchholz football continues to breed a culture of greatness on the field

The Buchholz crowd looks on during halftime Friday, Oct. 19, 2023. (Austin Stirling/WUFT News)
The Buchholz crowd looks on during halftime Friday, Oct. 19, 2023. (Austin Stirling/WUFT News)

There are a lot of challenges and benefits that come with sustained success. No one knows this better than the Buchholz High School football team.

The Bobcats accomplished the rare feat of going undefeated throughout the entire 2023 regular season. It was the first time a Buchholz team has finished undefeated since 2001.

The team also managed to win three playoff games dominantly before eventually falling to Lakeland High School 21-20 in the Division 4S State Championship on Dec. 1.

“Credit to our kids and credit to our staff for taking the challenge head-on,” said Chuck Bell, Buchholz High School Football head coach. “It’s not easy going to three final fours in a row.”

Over the past three seasons, Buchholz has consistently been among the top schools in Florida, losing just six games in that time. Each season comes with its own unique set of challenges, and more winning leads to more playing.

In each of those three seasons, the Bobcats reached the final four in their division, and players have had to play extra games in the postseason.

“We’ve played 41 football games in the last three years,” Bell said. “There’s some kids that haven’t played 30 games.”

Although playing in the postseason is every team’s goal, there is a physical toll that comes with playing these extra games every season. Bell said he is extremely proud of the way his players have responded.

Through focus, hard work and discipline, the Buchholz football team has prepared, both physically and mentally, for the challenge of making a run in the postseason year after year, he said.

Senior Bobcats offensive tackle Dylan Lloyd, 17, has been with the team throughout his time in high school. Lloyd explained that, although he didn’t start at the beginning of his time with the team, he was still able to play over a season's worth of extra games.

“I think we’ve played like 15 extra games,” he said. “I think it just gives you a lot more experience.”

With Buchholz's success on the field over the past several years, players and coaches alike have worked hard off it to ensure they are ready for the challenge. Bell explained that certain adjustments, like cutting back the frequency of workouts in the early months, helped prepare the team for an extended season.

“Our kids have played a lot of football,” Bell said. “We still got out here and worked but cut down the amount of times kids were out here during the summer planning for the fact that we would be playing in December.”

Another obstacle the Bobcats have had to overcome is the added attention and pressure that comes with winning.

Bell said he is proud of the way his team has remained focused. He also said that he feels the team had its best practices of the year during the final week of the season. Buchholz running back Quinton Cutler, 17, explained how he minimizes outside distractions.

“I like to turn on my music, I like to just lock in,” Cutler said. “Just think about what I got to do, what I got to accomplish.”

This sentiment was echoed by his teammates. Lloyd added that some of the extra attention can be a little distracting, but that the coaches did a really good job of helping players stay focused.

“Our coaches really preach not falling into the trap of looking at rankings,” he said. “The interviews are doable.”

One of the benefits, however, of these added games is the reputation that builds around a successful program. Even with talent such as five-star Gators commit Myles Graham departing for college next season, the Bobcats are still in a great position to sustain their success further because of their recent history.

With Buchholz playing in big games, younger players can be drawn to the opportunity of showing what they can do on a bigger stage.

“I think when you have a good football program it makes people want to come to the school,” Lloyd said.

Buchholz's recent appearance in the district finals was the third time the Bobcats have found themselves playing in that game in as many years. The game served as a unique experience for all those involved and came with an electric atmosphere that was noticeable among fans.

“Games like this just feel different in Citizen’s Field,” said Lucas Alvarado, 20, a Buchholz football fan. “It feels energetic, and I’m sure the players are fired up to perform.”

Although Buchholz came up just short of its goal to win the state title, the program put together a historic season many are proud of.

With a record of 13-0 leading up to the final game, the Bobcats put together one of the best seasons of any division in the state and proved themselves among the best once again. With a young roster, the future looks bright for the Buchholz program.

“Right off the bat my answer was I don’t plan on taking a step back,” Bell said. “You always shoot to win all the games.”

Austin is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing