2020 was a big year for big schools offensively in North Central Florida, and none were better than the Buchholz Bobcats and Suwannee Bulldogs. The two teams combined to place eight players on the big school offense for the in inaugural Mainstreet Daily News/The Prep Zone All Area Football Team.
A panel of local sports writers and coaches chose the team from Mainstreet’s eight-county coverage area. Each of the 48 players and two coaches honored will receive a commemorate plaque in recognition of their accomplishments.
Buchholz, which finished this past season 8-2 and advanced to the 7A-Region 1 Semifinals, leads the way with five players on the big school offense.
Sophomore quarterback Creed Whittemore was pressed into duty for the Bobcats in the second game of the season against Oakleaf, when senior quarterback Jack Hevesy went down with an injury. He responded by completing 62 percent of his passes for 1,675 yards with 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions, while rushing for 290 yards and two more scores.
“He (Creed) did a great job of filling in at quarterback for the injured Jack Hevesy and making plays,” Buchholz coach Mark Whittemore said.
Whittemore is joined by teammates senior running back Quan Smith and junior wide receiver Quan Lee. Smith, who signed to play at Kennesaw State, averaged 131 rushing yards per game while racking up more than 1,100 yards for the season, along with 17 touchdowns.
Lee, who also returned punts and played in the secondary, caught 52 passes for over 1,000 yards and 13 scores.
“Quan Smith was the first Buchholz back to go back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in over 15 years,” Whittemore said. “Quan Lee was first receiver over 1,000 at BHS since the early 2000s.”
Offensive lineman Da’Shawn Owens helped lead a Buchholz rushing attack that averaged nearly 161 yards a game. The final Bobcats representative is senior kicker Hunter Smith.
“He (Hunter Smith) had the game-winner vs. Fleming Island and 75 percent touchbacks on kickoffs,” Whittemore said.
Suwannee had a successful year as well, finished 8-3 and advancing to the 5A regional semifinal round. The Bulldogs have three players of their own on the big school offense, starting with senior wide receiver Wesley Jones. He joins Quan Lee as the other receiver after catching 34 balls for 462 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020.
Senior athlete Jaquez Moore rushed for nearly 1,300 yards, an average of 115 yards a game, and averaged more than seven yards per a carry. He also scored 19 touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a team. He has signed to play at Duke.
“Jaquez Moore is the best overall player I’ve coached in my 14 years,” Suwannee coach Kyler Hall said. “He makes game changing plays in each phase of the game. He will excel at Duke.”
Suwannee’s offensive line was buoyed by junior tackle Braxton Thompson.
“The “Big Lego” is a versatile offensive lineman with his best football ahead of him,” Hall said. “He’s a selfless player who made the switch from center to tackle to mid-season and thrived.”
Another sign of how Buchholz and Suwannee had the two best big school teams and offenses in the area: When the two teams met on October 2, they combined for 101 points in a shootout the Bobcats won, 59-42.
Bradford senior Erric Smith is the other running back, joining Quan Smith.
Erric Smith ran for 1,326 yards, more than seven yards a carry, with eight 100-yard games and 11 touchdowns for the Tornadoes, who advanced to the 4A region semifinals.
“Erric is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached,” Bradford coach Brian Tomlinson said. “He is extremely talented but will outwork anyone.”
Senior offensive tackle Levontre Daniels also represents Bradford, helping the Tornadoes amass 2,450 yards rushing, an average of 223 yards a game.
The final two offensive linemen are senior Tyler Ford of Columbia and Leonard Walker of Eastside.
Columbia only won one game during the regular season but then won four playoff games to advance to the 6A-Region 1 final.
The other Columbia player on the team is punter Marcus Peterson. Peterson threw for 637 yards and six touchdowns, rushed for four scores, and caught another 19 balls for 286 yards and seven more scores. But on this team he is the punter, as he averaged nearly 34 yards a punt on 47 attempts with a long of 59 and 11 punts inside the 20.
Bradford: Dae’jon Shanks (QB, Fr.), Dontae Balfour (WR, Sr.), Austin Lovell (TE, Sr.), Travis Lee (ATH, Sr.)
Columbia: Jaquez Redic (WR, Jr.), Tray Tolliver (WR, So.)
Eastside: Holden Johnson (QB, So.), Keonte Macon (RB, Sr.), Andre Bradford (WR, Jr.), Noel Walters (TE, So.);
Santa Fe: Landon Rogers (QB, Jr.), Devan Mitchum (WR, Jr.), RJ Boone (K, Sr.), Dylan Akers (P, Sr.)
Suwannee: Malachi Graham (RB, Jr.), Camdon Frier (WR, Fr.), Dawson Chitwood (OL, Sr.), Braxtyn Green (K, So.)
This is the third in a five-part series unveiling the 2020 All Area Football Team, presented by Mainstreet Daily News and The Prep Zone. To read prior stories about the small school offense and defense, click here and here.