The belief going into Buchholz’s game with Bartram Trail on Thursday night at Citizens Field was the unbeaten Bobcats would get their toughest test so far of the 2023 season.
Sometimes beliefs are way off from reality.
Trace Johnson connected with Quinton Cutler on an 85-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage and Buchholz rolled from there to a 44-7 romp over Bartram Trail.
Johnson, the son of former Buchholz and University of Florida standout Doug Johnson, threw for three touchdowns and over 300 yards as Buchholz (8-0) celebrated Senior Night with 21 seniors and clinched the District 3-4S title.
“When you are a Bobcat legacy and you hear about your father’s conquests at Citizens Field and watching video of your dad back in the day, then this is what he has been training for,” Buchholz coach Chuck Bell said.
After Justin Williams bobbled the opening kickoff and recovered for Buchholz at the 15-yard line, Johnson found Cutler wide open over the middle with no one within 20 yards as he ran for the score.
“We saw something on film and practiced all week and thought that might happen,” Bell said. “We had an absolutely fantastic gameplan and we thought that might happen.”
After Bartram Trail (4-4) punted, Buchholz drove down the field with UF commit Myles Graham scoring on a 7-yard run out of the wildcat formation for a 14-0 lead.
After another Bears punt, Buchholz scored again as Jordan Richardson took a toss from Johnson on a jet sweep and scored from 15 yards and a 21-0 lead just 45 seconds into the second period.
Buchholz scored on its final two drives before the half with Graham scoring on a 5-yard TD and Jay Giunta nailing a 47-yard field goal on the last play of the half for a 31-0 lead.
The third quarter was filled with penalties, one Bartram Trail player was ejected and the Bears scored the only points.
Buchholz scored twice in the final four minutes as Johnson found Williams on a 27-yard scoring pass. Then Amari Sheppard picked off Bears quarterback Riley Trujillo at his own 10-yard line and returned it to the Bartram Trail 10. Graham ran in his third TD from four yards out on the final play of the game.
“We have been winning every game by large margins,” Bell said. “I’m not going to say we can win every game by a running clock, but tonight showed what we are capable of.”
The Bobcats, looking for their first undefeated regular season since 2001, travel to Fleming Island (Orange Park) next Friday.