Buchholz dominates All Area big school defense

2022 All Area football big school defense - Buchholz linebacker Thomas Weinhardt, defensive back Donny Hiebert and defensive lineman Kendall Jackson.
(From left) Buchholz linebacker Thomas Weinhardt, defensive back Donny Hiebert and defensive lineman Kendall Jackson helped anchor the Bobcats in 2022. (Graphic and photos by C.J. Gish)
Graphic and photos by C.J. Gish
This is the fourth 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 teams. Go to our All Area football landing page by clicking here.

Fall 2022 marked another banner season for the Buchholz Bobcats. 

A year after advancing to the state semifinals for the first time since 1995, Buchholz repeated the feat in 2022. 

The Bobcats (10-3) won three playoff games before falling 42-35 at Venice in the 4S State Semifinal round. That accomplishment helped Buchholz land four players on the 2022 Bosshardt Realty All-Area Big School Defensive squad. 

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

Buchholz was mostly known for its offense — led by quarterback Creed Whittemore — and, as far as scoring defense goes, the Bobcats allowed 30 or more points in seven games in 2022. 

But Buchholz’s defense made the big plays when they needed them and also set up the offense on a regular basis. 

Buchholz defensive lineman Gavin Hill
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz defensive lineman Gavin Hill battled through injuries while accumulating 33 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in 2022.

The Buchholz defense was anchored by the defensive line of senior Gavin Hill and junior Kendall Jackson. 

Hill, a Florida signee, battled myriad injuries in his senior season at Buchholz. 

“In true team-first fashion, Gavin stepped up huge for this fall by making the move to play defensive tackle from defensive end,” said new Buchholz football coach Chuck Bell, who was the team’s defensive coordinator this past season. “He commanded double teams on nearly every snap and gave us the consistent force that we needed considering we were starting two young inside linebackers this season.

“Gavin played through significant injuries throughout the season but still found a way to be a dominating force for the Bobcats.”

In limited play, Hill still had 33 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles a sack and a fumble recovery.

Jackson, a Florida commit, also battled injuries throughout his junior season in 2022. 

“Kendall followed up his breakout sophomore season with another huge year for our defense,” Bell said. “His ability to play tackle inside and outside provided us with a lot of versatility up front. Playing most of the season through injury, he was still able to dominate opponents. He also continued to prove why he is considered one of the best defensive linemen in the country.”

Jackson accumulated 54 tackles, 18 TFL, 10 sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

While Jackson and Hill were well known to most people who follow high school football coming into the 2022 season, junior linebacker Thomas Weinhardt was not. This was definitely a breakout season for Weinhardt. 

Bradford linebacker Chason Clark (10)
Photo by C.J. Gish Bradford linebacker Chason Clark (10) led the Tornadoes with 101 tackles and added 14 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2022.

“To outsiders, Thomas’s junior season may have been a surprise but everyone with our program expected it,” Bell said. “He earned a starting position for us at outside linebacker and wreaked havoc on opponents all season. His first step and ability to shoot gaps frustrated a lot of teams in the run game. As a pass rusher, Thomas has a unique ability to read pass protections and gets to the quarterback using his patience and high football IQ.”

Weinhardt had 80 tackles, 20 TFL, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.

The fourth and final representative from Buchholz is senior secondary starter Donny Hiebert. Hiebert continued his consistent leadership for Buchholz in his senior season. 

“Donny is one of the toughest football players I’ve been around,” Bell said. “Over the last three seasons, he has played more than 1,700 consecutive snaps with the Buchholz defense. Hiebert started and played the entire final four games with a broken hand and torn calf, but still led our team in tackles and had an interception.”

Hiebert finished the season with 103 tackles, nine TFL, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Another state semifinalist, Bradford (Starke), landed three players on the team. The Tornadoes finished 12-2 and lost to eventual state champion Cocoa in the 2S state semifinal round. 

Junior defensive lineman Torin Brazell led Bradford on the defensive line. Brazell had 68 solo tackles, including 25 tackles for loss, and eight sacks and two forced fumbles. 

“Torin Brazell is a wrecking machine,” Bradford head coach Jamie Rogers said. “10 sacks and 25 tackles for loss led our defense. He is tough to block because of his strength that is combined with speed and quickness.”

Joining his teammate Brazell is junior linebacker Chason Clark. Clark led the Tornadoes with 101 tackles and added 14 TFL and three sacks and a fumble recovery.

Columbia defensive back Amare Farrell (7) and linebacker Tyrell Peterson (3)
Photo by C.J. Gish Columbia defensive back Amare Farrell (7) and linebacker Tyrell Peterson (3) helped lead the Tigers to the state semifinal round in 2022.

“Chason in the leader of our defense,” Rogers said. “He gets others lined up correctly and is a student of the game. His character and work ethic are second to none.”

The third member of the team from Bradford is junior secondary player Chalil Cummings. Cummings compiled 71 tackles and a team-high three interceptions. He also had three pass breakups and a TFL.

“Chalil is a force on both sides of the ball,” Rogers added. “He is very gifted athletically and loves contact. He plays the game hard and loves competing at a high level.”

Columbia (Lake City) also advanced to the state semifinals, losing to eventual 3S state champion Lake Wales. The Tigers finished 9-4 after an 0-2 start and have three representatives on the defensive side. 

Columbia’s defense was led this season by senior linebacker Jaden Robinson, who is also a Florida commit. Robinson was second on the Tigers with 144 tackles, tied for the team lead with seven sacks, and added two interceptions. He also had four pass breakups and three forced fumbles. 

Robinson is joined on the team by teammates senior linebacker Tyrell Peterson and senior secondary player Amare Ferrell. 

Peterson rolled up an eye-popping 164 tackles and added two sacks. Ferrell had 99 tackles, tied with a team-leading five interceptions and had 11 pass breakups. 

Eastside (Gainesville) made a huge turnaround in 2022, improving from 2-8 the previous year to 8-3, a district title, and first-round playoff win over North Marion (Citra) in their first year under coach Harold “Gator” Hoskins. 

Eastside defensive lineman Jayden Manns
Photo by Taryn Ashby Eastside defensive lineman Jayden Manns had 53 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss and 9.5 sacks in 2022.

The Rams representative is junior defensive lineman Jayden Manns. Manns accumulated 53 tackles and led Eastside with 16½ TFL and 9½  sacks, along with two forced fumbles and a pass breakup.

The final member of the all-area defense comes from Suwannee (Live Oak). The Bulldogs were 10-3 and advanced to the 2S region final, where they were beaten by Florida High (Tallahassee). 

Junior Kodi Lang was the big-play maker in Suwannee’s secondary with a team-high 104 tackles, seven TFL, three forced fumbles and two interceptions. 

“Kodi has developed into one of the top safeties in North Florida,” Suwannee coach Kyler Hall said. “He is a well-rounded player who can impact the game in many ways. His high football IQ and toughness allowed him to walk down as a linebacker and defensive end at times. On top of this, he was an impact player as a starting wide receiver and plays on almost every special team.”

Big school defense

DL – Torin Brazell (JR), Bradford (Starke)

DL – Jayden Manns (JR), Eastside

DL – Kendall Jackson (JR), Buchholz

DL – Gavin Hill (SR), Buchholz

LB – Thomas Weinhardt (JR), Buchholz

LB – Jaden Robinson (SR), Columbia (Lake City)

LB – Chason Clark (JR), Bradford (Starke)

LB – Tyrell Peterson (SR), Columbia (Lake City)

Secondary – Kodi Lang (JR), Suwannee (Live Oak)

Secondary – Amare Farrell (SR), Columbia (Lake City)

Secondary – Donny Hiebert (SR), Buchholz

Secondary – Chalil Cummings (JR), Bradford (Starke)

Honorable mentions:

Bradford (Starke)
– C.J. Carn (DB, Sr.), Bryson Bowen (LB, Sr.), Trente Jenkins (DL, So.), Dejon McBride (DL, Sr.), Jametrius Pringle (DB, Sr.), Jarrin Alexander (DB, Sr.), Devon McBride (LB, Jr.)

Buchholz – Creed Whittemore (DB, Sr.), Camron Boykins (DB, Sr.), Colin Nechodom (LB, Sr.), Jamaryn Reese (DL, Jr.), Aiden Brake (LB, Jr.), Amir Sheppard (LB, Fr.)

Columbia (Lake City) – Lecosta Byrd (LB, So.), Rashod Bradley (DE, Sr.), Caden Bolstein (DL, So.), Jerome Carter III (CB, Jr.), Kani Fulton (CB, Jr.)

Eastside – Mario Mitchell (LB, Sr.), Jeremiah Williams (LB, Sr.), Branden Perry (CB, Jr.), Jessie Barnes (DL, So.), Jataureis Servance (DL, Jr.), Jacquez Hill (DL, Sr.)

Gainesville – Caleb Young (LB, Fr.), Derrick Bloodsworth Jr. (LB, Sr.), Francisco Sanford (DB, Sr.)

Keystone Heights – Darrion Grady (DB, Jr.), Tyeler Anthony-Rozier (DL, Sr.), Ben Ulsch (DB, Jr.)

Santa Fe (Alachua) – Calel Perry (DL, Jr.), Blake McCormick (DL, Sr.), Don’trell Jenkins (DB, Sr.), Ethan Thomas (DL, So.), Elijah Daniels (DL, So.)

Suwannee (Live Oak) – Ja’darius Cherry (DE, Jr.), Brandon Robinson (LB, Sr.), Javarion Smith (CB, Sr.), Blake Wynn (DL, Sr.), Delwyn Allen (LB, So.), PJ Davis (DB, Jr.), Michael Rossin, DB, So.), Zy Alexander (DL, Sr.)

Enjoying our local sports coverage? Get Mike Ridaught's twice weekly sports newsletter in your inbox.
Sports Newsletter Form
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments