Buchholz tops first 2022 regional power poll

Buchholz football team coming onto field against Columbia
Buchholz enters the 2022 season at the top team in the regional power poll. (Photo by C.J. Gish)

The 2022 high school football season gets going this week with some interesting opening week matchups. 

But as for the preseason Prep Zone Power Poll, not much has changed since the end of last season. 

Starting the season as the No. 1 team is the Buchholz Bobcats. Buchholz, who advanced to the 7A state semifinals last year for their deepest run in the postseason since 1995, finished 2021 on top of the regional rankings. And Buchholz will start 2022 there as well.

The Bobcats, who return many starters with the exception of wide receiver Quan Lee, who is now at UCF, receive seven of the 10 first-place votes in the preseason rankings. Buchholz opens the season at Citizens Field Thursday against No. 7T Columbia (Lake City). 

Also in the same spot they finished last season are the second-ranked Bolles (Jacksonville) Bulldogs. Bolles was knocked out in the 4A state semifinal round by Cocoa last December, but they receive a first-place vote to slot in right behind Buchholz. Bolles has a tough opening matchup of their own Friday night at No. 17 St. Augustine. 

Another team who is starting in the same place they ended 2021 is No. 3 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville). The Conquerors dropped from 3A to 2A last season and still won their ninth state championship in school history, tied for third-most all-time. 

Trinity Christian receives the final two first-place votes and opens the 2022 season at Received Votes (RV) Ed White (Jacksonville). 

Vanguard (Ocala) is at No. 4. The Knights were 12-1 a year ago and lost in the 6A regional final round 28-26 to Jones (Orlando). Vanguard opens its season on Friday at Citizens Field against RV Gainesville. 

Rounding out the top five is Hawthorne. The Hornets just missed out on a 1A state title a year ago, losing 13-12 to No. 11 Madison County in the state championship game. Hawthorne, who finished as the state runner-up the last two years, begins their 2022 season at RV Middleburg. 

Bartram Trail (St. Johns) starts off the second five at No. 6. The Bears are followed by Columbia and last year’s 5A state semifinalist Baker County (Glen St. Mary), who are tied for 7th. 

Coming in 9th is Nease (Ponte Vedra), whose season ended in the Region 1-7A final by Buchholz in 2021. Rounding out the top 10 is Raines (Jacksonville).

Last year’s 1A state champion Madison County leads off the second 10 at No. 11.

Mainland (Daytona Beach), who finished 18th last season after a 5-5 season, starts 2022 ranked No. 12. 

Union County (Lake Butler) comes in at No. 14 after finishing 2021 with an undefeated season before falling to RV Chiefland in the Region 3-1A Final, 29-27.

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls basketball, boys basketball, softball & baseball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2022 FOOTBALL POLL #1 (PRESEASON POLL)

(School, followed by new 2022 classification, first-place votes, final 2021 record, and total voting points)

1. Buchholz (Gainesville) (4S) (7) (12-2) – 194

2. Bolles (Jacksonville) (2M)  (1) (8-3) – 181

3. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (2) (10-4) – 178

4. Vanguard (Ocala) (3S) (12-1) – 162

5. Hawthorne (1R) (10-1) – 144

6. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (4S) (9-3) – 126

7T. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (2S) (11-3) – 104

7T. Columbia (Lake City) (3S) (6-5) – 104

9. Nease (Ponte Vedra) (4S) (9-4) – 98

10. Raines (Jacksonville) (2M) (8-3) – 91

11. Madison County (1R) (11-3) – 89

12. Mainland (Daytona Beach) (3S) (5-5) – 68

13. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (4S) (8-2) – 65

14. Union County (Lake Butler) (1R) (12-1) – 61

15. Riverside (Jacksonville) (2M) (10-2) – 46

16. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) (1S) (7-3) – 41

17. St. Augustine (3S) (6-3) – 38

18. The Villages (2S) (11-1) – 33

19. University (Orange City) (4S) (7-3) – 27

20. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (4S) (6-5) – 25

Also receiving votes: Chiefland (1R) (10-2) – 23; University Christian (Jacksonville) (1M) (7-5) – 23; Dunnellon (2S) (8-3) – 22; North Marion (Citra) (2S) (6-4) – 21; Ed White (Jacksonville) (2M) (5-5) – 19; Creekside (St. Johns) (4S) (8-3) – 13; Flagler Palm Coast (4S) (6-4) – 13; Andrew Jackson (Jacksonville) (2M) (7-4) (0-1) – 11; Bradford (Starke) (2S) (6-6) – 9; DeLand (4S) (4-4) – 6;  Middleburg (3S) (5-5) – 6; Wildwood (1R) (6-5) – 6; Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (4M) (4-6) – 5; Suwannee (Live Oak) (2S) (3-7) – 5; Fletcher (Neptune Beach) (3M) (5-6) – 3; Gainesville (3S) (8-3) – 3; P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) (1S) (8-4) – 3; Ponte Vedra (4S) (4-6) – 3; Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (2M) (7-3) – 2; Eastside (Gainesville) (2S) (2-8) – 1; Oakleaf (Orange Park) (4S) (4-6) – 1. 

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