The dominance continued for the Buchholz football team on Friday night.
In a matchup of 2022 state playoff teams, the host Bobcats trounced rival Eastside, 35-0, at Citizens Field to win their 10th straight in the series.
“I think we showed that we’re in a different class than them,” said Buchholz coach Chuck Bell. “They’re a 2S team, we’re a 4S team. When you play the competition that we play week in and week out, we’re not going to flinch whether it’s a rivalry team or St. Thomas Aquinas.”
After the game, Bell was quick to credit his offensive line coach.
“Coach (Matt) DiBernardo is one of the best offensive line coaches I’ve ever been around,” he said. “You’re talking about a college head coach, a guy that brought Oak Hall back to prominence, or at least brought Oak Hall back to relevance. We’re blessed to have Coach DiBo.”
The offensive line did its part early as running back Quinton Cutler scored on a 38-yard touchdown run just 1:30 into the game. Sophomore Jay Giunta’s extra point gave the Bobcats (3-0) at 7-0 lead.
Bell also praised the defense, noting that Eastside only scored one touchdown in 2021 and didn’t score in one quarter of play last year.
“Points have been hard to come by for city rivals against the Bobcats,” Bell said. “We’ll continue and hope to keep it that way.”
Eastside (2-1) missed several opportunities.
Junior Victor White intercepted Buchholz sophomore quarterback Trace Johnson twice, and senior Travis Curtis also had one.
White’s first pick was returned to the Bobcats’ 38-yard line. However, a personal foul against the Rams pushed them back to midfield and the drive stalled.
Buchholz took over at their own 14-yard line and marched 86 yards to take a 14-0 lead, scoring on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to senior Jordan Richardson.
University of Florida commit Myles Graham, who played a lot of running back when Cutler went down with an injury, kept the drive alive by converting a 4th-and-1 at the Buchholz 45-yard line.
Graham rumbled 21 yards to move into Eastside territory on the play. He gave the Bobcats running game a lift with Cutler on the sideline on crutches.
“Myles could line up at any of the 11 positions on any side of the ball and he could probably be our kicker too,” Bell said. “He’s one of the most impressive young men that I’ve ever been around, and not just on the field but off the field. He has the mental capability to be able to handle a lot so we’ve started to add some things here and there.”
Graham added to the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run with 10:45 to play in the half. Johnson then completed a 2-point conversion pass to his kicker, Giunta, for a 22-0 lead.
Giunta, who made a 24-yard field goal, drilled a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half for a 28-0 lead at the break.
Early in the third quarter, White’s second interception was returned to the Buchholz 42-yard line.
However, Eastside was stopped on a 4th-and-goal from the 15-yard line as senior Jorden Moore intercepted an Adrian Curtis pass in the end zone.
That led to a 28-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to senior wide receiver Markell Thompson for a 35-0 lead and a running clock.
“We got beat up front, honestly,” said Eastside coach Harold “Gator” Hoskins. “The defense gave it everything they had. They fought, they fought, they fought. That’s all we could ask for. Back to the drawing board.”
Eastside will have to get past the loss quickly.
The Rams travel to Starke next Friday to face the Bradford Tornadoes (3-0), who beat the Rams twice last season on their way a spot in the Class 2S state semifinals.
“Men are measured by how they get up,” Hoskins said. “We got knocked down tonight. Oh well. We’ve still got a full season ahead of us. We’ve still got a chance to be the district champions, we’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs. Tonight, we lost. We’re alright, but hey we’ve got to keep our heads up and keep fighting.”
Meanwhile, Buchholz will open up 4S-District 3 play at home next Friday against Creekside (St. Johns). The game will be broadcast on 106.9 FM “I am Country” beginning at 7 p.m. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 8
Buchholz 35, Eastside 0
Hawthorne 46, Terry Parker (Jacksonville) 6
Trinity Catholic (Ocala) 49, GHS 7
Oak Hall 70, Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto) 14
P.K. Yonge 22, Mount Dora Christian Academy 20
Newberry 41, West Port (Ocala) 13
Palatka 48, Santa Fe (Alachua) 10
Trenton 65, St. Francis Catholic Academy 20
Bradford (Starke) 32, Middleburg 7
DeLand 35, Columbia (Lake City) 21
Dixie County (Cross City) 48, Bronson 0
Fort White 49, Keystone Heights 26
Williston 43, Land O’ Lakes 7
Suwannee (Live Oak) 33, Chiefland 18
Walton (DeFuniak Springs) 31, Union County (Lake Butler) 28 (2 OT)
Saturday, Sept. 9
Bell at Branford, 7:30 p.m.