Buchholz, GHS renew rivalry
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 at 12:24 a.m.
A week after losing to one of the top Class 7A teams in the state in Tallahassee Lincoln, Buchholz faces perhaps an even tougher foe, which also happens to be its biggest city rival — 6A No. 1 Gainesville.
The annual showdown takes place tonight at 7:30 at Citizens Field, where the Hurricanes (6-0) look to take home their fourth straight city title with their fourth consecutive win over the Bobcats (2-4).
“Anytime you are ranked No. 1, you are going to be a tough team to beat,” said Buchholz first-year coach Mark Whittemore. “We have to click on all cylinders and the ball definitely needs to bounce our way a few times.”
Gainesville has had only one close call this season, a 17-14 win over 6A No. 6 Columbia in the second week of the season. Other than that, the Hurricanes, who beat Buchholz 38-7 last season, are winning games by an average of 26 points per contest.
“They are better this season,” Gainesville coach James Thomson said of the Bobcats. “It is a big rivalry game. For the seniors, this game is really important to them. They have a chance to be four-time city champs.”
The ’Canes have the area’s top passer in senior quarterback Mark Cato (1,021 yards, 13 TDs), top rusher in senior running back Ralph Webb (794 yards, 11 TDs) and the second-leading receiver in senior Case Harrison (25 catches, 405 yards, three TDs). Wide receiver, and UF commit, Chris Thompson, who has missed four games with a foot injury, could see some action tonight.
The GHS defense, which has only given up seven points in the last two games, are led by linebackers Keith Kelsey, Alex Gonzales and Matt Solt, and strong safety Juan Jenkins.
Buchholz could be without leading rusher Kenny Scott (661 yards, 6 TDs) for the second straight week because of a concussion suffered against Santa Fe on Sept. 28. Junior Jordan Nichols will be making his third start at quarterback, replacing injured starter Bryce Goston.
Wide receiver Jared Goar has a team-leading 16 receptions for the Bobcats, and linebacker Kurt Oehlbeck has 62 tackles.
“Right now he (Kenny) is still uncertain for Friday night,” Whittemore said. “He has not been fully cleared yet from his concussion he suffered. We hope to have Bryce Goston back in the next couple of weeks.
“The crazy thing about it all, this is the same sort of scenario we had last year. It is definitely abnormal.”
This will also be a reunion of sorts for GHS speedster Tony James, who transferred from Buchholz during the summer. James has 427 yards on 45 carries, with five TDs for the ’Canes.
“We try not to focus on that stuff,” Whittemore said. “Tony made his decision. We are not going to create more out of it.
“Defensively, we really have to at least slow them down a little bit on the ground. Their passing game is really strong, as well as their running game. We need to shut down one of those.”
GHS has two big games awaiting in Ocala Vanguard next week, in what will likely be for the District 5 title, and a road test at 3A No. 3 Madison County on Oct. 26.
Thomson said the Buchholz game means too much to his players for them to look ahead.
“It is important for the kids to win the city title,” he said. “You have Vanguard right there coming up, but I don’t think it will happen.”