All Area: Ingram, Whittemore return as top coaches

2022 All Area football coaches of the year -- Hawthorne's Cornelius Ingram (left) and Buchholz's Mark Whittemore
Hawthorne's Cornelius Ingram (left) led the Hornets to an undefeated season and their first state title in program history while Buchholz's Mark Whittemore led the Bobcats to their second straight state semifinal. (Graphic by C.J. Gish/Photos by Megan V. Winslow)
Graphic by C.J. Gish/Photos by Megan V. Winslow
This is the fifth of five stories unveiling the 2022 Bosshardt Realty All Area Football Teams. Click here to read about the Small School Offense, Small School Defense and Big School Offense and Big School Defense teams. Go to our All Area football landing page by clicking here.

Following lengthy postseason runs, Hawthorne’s Cornelius Ingram and Buchholz’s Mark Whittemore have been named the 2022 Bosshardt Realty All Area football coaches of the year.

It marks the third straight year that both head coaches have been honored, as the pair were selected as the top coaches following the 2021 season and the 2020 season.

Ingram, the small school Coach of the Year, led the Hornets to their first state football title in program history last month.

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Hawthorne (12-0) defeated Northview (Bratt), 14-2, on Dec. 10, to win the Class 1R state title.

“Cornelius has been a role model for many years and continues to be one on a daily basis,” said Hawthorne Athletics Director and defensive coordinator Dustin Adkins. “I am blessed to be able to be a part of his staff and help contribute to history this year.”

Ingram won his second state title overall, including a state title in girls basketball in 2020.

Hawthorne coach Cornelius Ingram (holding trophy) led the Hornets to their first football state title in December.
Photo by C.J. Gish Hawthorne coach Cornelius Ingram (holding trophy) led the Hornets to their first football state title in December.

“I’m not sure how many coaches have won titles in multiple sports so this has to rank up there,” said Hawthorne offensive coordinator Greg Bowie, who is Ingram’s older brother. “My brother is a special guy. He’s transparent, unselfish and has a big heart. There are a lot of things that he does behind the scenes and I firmly believe that’s why he’s blessed.”

Hawthorne had some big wins during the regular season, including Class 3S Middleburg, 1M Orlando Christian Prep, 1S P.K. Yonge, and 2S North Marion (Citra), all of whom made the postseason.

Perhaps their biggest win of the regular season came in October, rallying from a 21-0 halftime deficit to beat Union County in Lake Butler.

Ingram, who was named the Class 1R Coach of the Year by the Florida Dairy Farmers, has compiled a 70-19 record in eight years at Hawthorne, which includes three straight state championship game appearances.

Union County football coach Andrew Thomas
Photo by Megan Winslow Andrew Thomas
Williston football head coach Robby Pruitt
Photo by Megan Winslow Robby Pruitt
Chiefland football coach James Corbin
Photo by Megan Winslow James Corbin

Special recognition goes to coaches Andrew Thomas of Union County, Robby Pruitt of Williston, and James Corbin of Chiefland.

Thomas led the Tigers (8-3) to the Class 1R state semifinals. Union County also posted impressive wins against Columbia and defending 1A state champion Madison County (in the playoffs).

In his first season as head coach, Pruitt turned around a Red Devils’ program that went 1-8 last year and into an undefeated regular season and a spot in the state playoffs. Williston (10-1) averaged 49.6 points per game in 2022.

Corbin led the Indians (7-3) back to the state playoffs. Chiefland had big wins against 2S state semifinalist Suwannee (Live Oak) (10-3) and 1R playoff participants Wildwood (8-3) and Newberry (6-4).

Buchholz coach Mark Whittemore and QB Creed Whittemore
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz coach Mark Whittemore (left) with son and Bobcat quarterback Creed Whittemore.

Meanwhile, Whittemore was recognized as the big school coach of the year after leading Buchholz to its second straight state semifinal appearance.

The Bobcats finished 10-3 this year, which ended with a 42-35 loss at Venice in the Class 4S state semifinals.

Whittemore recently announced his retirement and finished his Buchholz career with a record of 78-48 over 11 seasons.

His son, Creed, a Mississippi State signee, had a big senior campaign at quarterback and was named Mr. Football. He was one of six Buchholz players who were named to the 2022 Bosshardt Realty All Area big school offensive football team.

“We can’t thank Coach Whittemore enough for all he has done for Buchholz High School and Bobcat football,” Buchholz Athletics Director Ron Brooks said after Whittemore stepped down. “His love for this school and his players shines through all he does. He has done a tremendous job in helping our young men become better people and better football players. He helped restore Buchholz football to a state power and we wish him well as he moves on to the next chapter.”

Defensive coordinator Chuck Bell, who was named the Bobcats next head coach, had a special relationship with Whittemore which goes back to a very young age. 

“Coach Whittemore’s ability to infuse a culture of toughness and instill a mentality where ‘Quitting’ is never an option, is unlike any other coach I’ve ever been around,” Bell said. “His saying that he would ‘Coach you hard, but love you more’ always rang true.”

Bell said he was truly a guy that other coaches loved working for and players loved playing for.

“Coach Whittemore was always so great to work alongside because he let our assistant coaches do their jobs without interference,” Bell said. “And he was willing to do anything that he asked of his players or his assistants.”

The Bobcats had some big regular season wins this season, including the season opener against 3S Columbia (Lake City), at 4S Creekside (St. Johns), and at 3S Vanguard (Ocala), all of whom made the playoffs.

Perhaps the biggest win was at Bartram Trail (St. Johns) in the region final, after falling to the Bears in the regular season.

“The victory against Bartram to secure our second consecutive regional championship was one of the best managed games that I’ve ever been a part of and Coach Whittemore was the reason why,” Bell said. “His message all that week was to be comfortable breaking tendencies and the importance every member of the program doing whatever it took to win that game.”

Columbia football coach Demetric Jackson
Photo by Suzette Cook Demetric Jackson
Bradford football coach Jamie Rodgers
Photo by Megan V. Winslow Jamie Rodgers
Suwannee football coach Kyler Hall
Photo by Megan V. Winslow Kyler Hall
Eastside football coach Harold Gator Hoskins
Photo by Megan Winslow Harold “Gator” Hoskins

Honorable mention selections for the award include Eastside’s Harold “Gator” Hoskins, Suwannee (Live Oak) coach Kyler Hall, Columbia’s (Lake City) Demetric Jackson, and Jamie Rodgers of Bradford (Starke).

Hoskins turned around the Rams’ program in his first year as Eastside went from 2-8 in 2021 to 8-3 in 2022, which included their first district title in 10 years and a defeated North Marion in the regional quarterfinals.

Hall led Suwannee (10-3) to a regional final appearance in Class 2S, while Rodgers and Jackson led the Tornadoes (12-2) and Tigers (9-4) to the 2S and 3S state semifinals, respectively.

Small School Coach of the Year
Cornelius Ingram, Hawthorne

Honorable mentions – Andrew Thomas, Union County (Lake Butler); Robby Pruitt, Williston; James Corbin, Chiefland

Big School Coach of the Year
Mark Whittemore, Buchholz

Honorable mentions – Jamie Rodgers, Bradford (Starke); Harold Hoskins, Eastside; Demetric Jackson, Columbia (Lake City); Kyler Hall, Suwannee (Live Oak)

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Lisa McLeod

Hi Mike – Hawthorne’s AD is Dustin Adkins, not Chuck lol

J.C. Derrick

Thank you, Lisa! This is corrected.