3 KEY TAKEAWAYS: Creed Whittemore shines, Buchholz edges Creekside in 48-41 thriller

Ward Clayton, Correspondent

ST. JOHNS — Buchholz needed all of senior quarterback Creed Whittemore’s talent to hold off Creekside 48-41 Friday night in the District 3-4S opener for both schools, which each entered the game unbeaten.

Whittemore, a 5-11, 175-pound Kyler Murray-style QB who is committed to Florida, passed for three touchdowns, ran for two in the first half and finished with 410 yards of total offense as Buchholz (3-0, 1-0) gained a 34-14 halftime advantage. He has accumulated eight TD passes and three rushing scores in three career games versus Creekside (3-1, 0-1).

Buchholz High School Creed Whittemore (2) looks for a receiver as Buchholz travels to Trinity Catholic high school for a preseason game in Ocala, Florida on Friday August 19, 2022.  [Alan Youngblood/Special to the Ocala Star-Banner]

But the host Knights came out throwing haymakers in the third quarter. A faked punt and successful onside kick started the second stanza with two screen-pass touchdowns to junior running back Nicky Williams, cutting the deficit to 34-27 with 5:56 left in the third in a game that lasted 3½ hours.

Creekside pulled within 41-34 with 4:43 to play in the game on a Wilson Edwards 4-yard run, and to 48-41 with 43 seconds remaining on a Hampton Riedl 27-yard reception from Edwards — putting a scare in the state’s third-ranked Class 4S team. Jacarree Kelly’s 25-yard run offset the first Creekside TD with seven minutes left, and the Bobcats gained possession within the last minute by taking the onside kick.

“I’m proud of them, but we made too many mistakes in the first half,” Creekside coach Sean McIntyre said. “We got what we deserved after that start.”

Including Buchholz, Creekside’s next month is a murderer’s row of games against five teams with a combined 16-3 record: visiting Mandarin and district foe Oakleaf the next two Fridays, hosting district rival Bartram Trail on Oct. 14 and traveling to district opponent Fleming Island Oct. 21. The five District 3-4S teams – Bartram, Buchholz, Creekside, Fleming Island and Oakleaf – are also a combined 16-3.

1. Williams’ rushing assault

Williams has continued Creekside’s rushing legacy as a first-year starter for the Knights. The 5-10, 200-pounder led Northeast Florida in rushing yards (501 yards, 8.8 yards per carry) and scoring (10 touchdowns) in just three games entering the Buchholz contest. That included 256 yards and three TDs in last Thursday’s 21-20 victory in a downpour at Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga.

Williams was held to 51 yards rushing Friday, but his two TDs pushed his season total to 12. 

Individually, Williams is looking up at his former Knights teammate Preston Strope, who rushed for 3,417 yards and 43 TDs in four seasons through 2021. Strope established single-season school marks of 1,351 yards rushing and 21 TDs during his junior season in 2020.

Creekside head coach Sean McIntyre speaks with his team after a Bold City Showcase high school football game against Ribault on August 28, 2021. [Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union]

2. McIntyre’s progress

Creekside coach Sean McIntyre, in his sixth season as the Knights’ head coach, became the school’s winningest coach with last week’s victory at Glynn Academy. McIntyre is 29-25 during his tenure.

He surpassed original Knights head coach Greg Stanton (28 wins from 2008-14), who now helps as the Creekside JV Red defensive coordinator. McIntyre followed Stanton, Jeff Schaum and interim coach Guy Harris at Creekside, which opened in 2008.

McIntyre took over a program mired in a 22-game losing streak entering 2017 and has led the Knights to three consecutive non-losing seasons (5-5 in 2019, 5-4 in 2020 and 8-3 last season). McIntyre is the son of Dr. Tom McIntyre, the late football coach and administrator in Melbourne for whom the high school's stadium is named.

Buchholz Bobcats Gavin hill (6) runs off the field against the Columbia Tigers during the opening football game of the season at Citizens Field in Gainesville FL. August 25, 2022.

3. Buchholz's future Gators

Buchholz High School is located just five miles from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, home of the Florida Gators. So, it’s no surprise that two of Bobcats’ current stars are bound for the University of Florida next fall. 

Senior quarterback Whittemore projects as a slot receiver alongside older brother Trent for the Gators when he enrolls early in January. Gavin Hill, Buchholz’s 6-3, 255-pound defensive lineman, has also committed to Florida.

Kendall Jackson, a junior defensive lineman, is also being courted by the Gators.