This is the third of five stories unveiling the 2022 Bosshardt Realty All Area Football Teams. Click here to read about the Small School Offense and Small School Defense teams. Go to our All Area football landing page by clicking here.
Defense might win championships, but offense sells tickets.
And Buchholz quarterback Creed Whittemore was well worth the price of admission.
The Mississippi State signee headlines five Buchholz players who were named to the 2022 Bosshardt Realty All Area big school offensive football team.
Earlier this month, Whittemore was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Mr. Football, given annually since 1992 to the best overall football player in the Sunshine State. It marked the first time that an athlete from Alachua County had won the prestigious award.
Last month, he led the Bobcats (10-3) to their second straight state semifinal appearance.
“Blessed to have been a small part of Creed’s high school career,” said new Buchholz football coach Chuck Bell, who was the team’s defensive coordinator this past season. “His tenacity and electricity on Friday nights was something to behold.”
Whittemore completed 179-of-305 passes for 2,693 yards with 35 TDs and 7 interceptions his senior season. He also rushed for 1,285 yards (8.29 yards per carry) and 17 TDs.
Joining him in the backfield is teammate Quinton Cutler, who rushed for 1,001 yards and six rushing touchdowns, along with 377 yards and six touchdowns receiving.
The junior scored a season-high four touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 200 yards in their Class 4S-Region 1 Semifinal win against Crestview.
“For the second year in a row, Quinton saved his best performances for the playoffs,” Bell said. “Small in stature, but the heart of a lion. His run on 4th-and-short to seal our Region Championship victory at Bartram Trail (St. Johns) was one of the biggest individual plays of our entire season.”
Bradford (Starke) running back Willie Pollard also joined the first team after helping lead the Tornadoes (12-2) to a state semifinal appearance.
The junior finished with 1,106 yards rushing (6.6 ypc) with 11 touchdowns.
“Willie stepped up when we needed it most,” said Bradford coach Jamie Rodgers. “The injury to Manny (Covey) could have derailed us but Willie picked us up and carried us at times. We are looking for a huge year in 2023 from him.”
He was one of two Bradford players to make the first team, along with offensive lineman Elijah Williams, who helped pave the way for 3,287 yards on the ground (234.8 per game).
“Elijah has been a 3-year starter for the Tornadoes,” Rodgers said. “His unselfishness and great character set him apart from most high school kids. Leader by action not words.”
Meanwhile, Buchholz placed a pair of linemen on the first team in seniors Brady Barnes and Taylor McGriff.
“Brady has been our most consistent offensive lineman over the course of our last three seasons, Bell said. “He truly takes pride in being an offensive lineman and protecting our skill players, especially our quarterback, as evidenced by the fact that our O-line only allowed two sacks on 320 passing attempts.”
McGriff hadn’t played the offensive line position much until two years ago.
“He’s done such an outstanding job picking up the techniques and skills necessary to perform at a high level in a very short time,” Bell said. “Taylor brought a level of tough grittiness to the position that every team needs. His physicality and road-grating mentality was a huge reason our team averaged over seven yards per carry on the ground last fall.”
Senior Dabien White of Eastside, who helped lead a much-improved offense that averaged 21.5 points per game for the 2S-District 7 champions, their first in 10 years, and Taylon Johns of Suwannee (Live Oak) round out the first team offensive line.
“With the offensive line being the biggest question mark headed into our season, Taylon stepped up and became the leader of that group which became the most dependable on the team,” said Suwannee head coach Kyler Hall, whose team advanced to the Class 2S-Region 1 Final this year. “Since his freshman year, Taylon has come along and improved more than any player in the program. The offensive line took on his personality of being tough, gritty, and disciplined. His group helped produce a 1,000-yard rusher and a 2,000-yard passer.”
The skill position was loaded with Delaware signee Jacarree Kelly (athlete) and Alabama signee Jaren Hamilton (wide receiver) of Buchholz making the first team, along with Jay Smith of Suwannee (Live Oak).
Kelly led the Bobcats with 66 catches and he finished second behind Hamilton with 793 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. He also had 118 yards rushing on only 10 carries, including a 57-yard run this season.
“Over the last three years, Jacarree proved that he could hurt our opponents in multiple ways,” Bell said. “In the slot, out of the backfield, and out wide, he helped us create our mismatches and it allowed us to exploit a lot of defenses.”
Hamilton just missed a 1,000-yard receiving season (985 yards) with a team-leading 16 touchdown catches.
“Jaren came to Buchholz looking for an opportunity to prove to everyone that he had the ability to shine against some of the best competition in the country,” Bell said. “Last fall, he proved just that. His ability to take the top off of a defense was a perfect fit for our offense. Finishing just shy of 1,000 yards receiving on a team loaded with solid pass catching options was extremely impressive, as were his 16 TDs. Jaren also brought a physical style of blocking to the receiver position and even added 2 game-ending interceptions against Vanguard and Pace.”
Meanwhile, Smith (53 catches for 1,039 yards and 13 TD catches) became only the third player in Suwannee history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving and the first to do so since 1995.
“Jay is one of the most electric players I have ever coached,” Hall said. “He made game changing plays on offense, defense, and special teams. His play at WR this season was a huge part of our overall team success. He could take the top off of a defense and also turn a 5-yard catch into a 70-yard TD. He was truly spectacular this season.”
Gainesville’s Cooper Badics, who made All Area last year as a kicker, was named to the first team as a punter after averaging 33.8 yards per punt on 37 punts.
Suwannee’s Braxtyn Green, who Hall said, “is one of the top kickers to ever come through Suwannee High,” rounds out the All Area first team.
The senior kicker, who also averaged 34 yards per punt, made 12 field goals this season and finished 31-of-33 in extra points.
“In his four years as a varsity kicker, Braxtyn has made many big kicks that have helped us win close games,” Hall said. “He consistently kicks them into the end zone and has the hangtime to pin a team deep in their own territory. He tied the school record with a 54-yard field goal and also made one from 53 this year. He did all of this while being an exceptional punter as well. A big reason our defense was as good as it was this year was due to Braxtyn being able to help us control the field position.”
Big school All Area offense
QB – Creed Whittemore (SR), Buchholz
RB – Willie Pollard (JR), Bradford (Starke)
RB – Quinton Cutler (JR), Buchholz
WR – Jaren Hamilton (SR), Buchholz
WR – Jay Smith (SR), Suwannee (Live Oak)
ATH – Jacarree Kelly (SR), Buchholz
OL – Brady Barnes (SR), Buchholz
OL – Taylor McGriff (SR), Buchholz
OL – Dabien White (SR), Eastside
OL – Taylon Johns (SR), Suwannee (Live Oak)
OL – Elijah Williams (SR), Bradford (Starke)
P – Cooper Badics (JR), Gainesville
K – Braxtyn Green (SR), Suwannee (Live Oak)
Bradford (Starke) – Manny Covey (RB, Sr.), Jeremiah McKenzie (QB, So.), Chalil Cummings (ATH., Jr.), Jorden Daniels (OL, Jr.), Dae’Jon Shanks (ATH., Jr.)
Buchholz – Bryan Rosenberg (OL, Sr.), Reed Rousseau (K, Sr.), James Williams (WR, Sr.), Marquis Hardy (OL, Jr.), Perris Sylvester (OL, Jr.)
Columbia (Lake City) – Tyler Jefferson (QB, Sr.), Tony Fulton (RB, Sr.), Camdon Frier (WR, Jr.), Tray Tolliver (WR, Sr.), Jaylen Cooper (ATH., Sr.), Fred Harrell (OL, Sr.), Matthew Bustamante (OL, Sr.), Travis Matthews (OL, Jr.), Rolando Dominguez (K, So.)
Eastside – Holden Johnson (QB, Sr.), Antoneo Wilson (WR, Jr.), Micah Hudson (RB, Sr.), Antonio Hubbert (WR, Jr.), Caleb Dressel (K, Sr.), Trevaun Sams (G, Sr.), Xzavion Henderson (OL, Sr.)
Gainesville – John Cooper (RB, Sr.), Cooper Badics (K, Jr.), Josh Morison (OL, Jr.)
Keystone Heights – Cartez Daniels (RB, Jr.), Bryar Schenck (RB, Sr.), Brayden Wester (OL, So.), Jayden Goodman (OL, Jr.)
Santa Fe (Alachua) – KJ Johnson (WR, Sr.), Blake McCormick (P, Sr.), Nolan Nelson (OL, Sr.)
Suwannee (Live Oak) – Marquavious Owens (RB, Jr.), Bronsen Tillotson (QB, Sr.), Kodi Lang (ATH, Jr.), Andrew Harrell (G, Jr.), Braxtyn Green (P, Sr.)