A great athlete whose future is at the University of Florida, Trent Whittemore of Buchholz certainly showed his athletic prowess his junior year.
Big School Football Player of the Year after leading the Bobcats into the state playoffs, playing out of position at quarterback most of the season.
Big School Basketball Player of the Year, averaging an area-best 21.6 point per game and totalling 1,061 career points in 23 games.
Melissa Cama, also a junior, showed her defensive skills on both the soccer and lacrosse fields this season for Buchholz. A first team all-area defender in both.
For their outstanding achievements this season Cama and Whittemore are The Sun’s Big School Athletes of the Year.
“I thought it went pretty well,” said Whittemore, of the Bobcats’ football and basketball seasons. “I wished we could be a little more successful in football and basketball as far as wins go.
“But it was fun.”
Whittemore pretty much did everything for the Bobcats (5-6) in the fall, stepping in at quarterback for injured Cam Orth, starting in eight of 11 games, passing for 888 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions, also rushing for 451 yards with three TDs and caught 29 passes for 404 yards and five TDs.
Defensively, the UF commit started at free safety and corner, posting 34 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups and a game-saving caused fumble at goal line and recovery in victory over Belleview. He also punted in five games, averaging 35 yards per kick.
In a 31-21 loss at Orlando Edgewater in the 7A regional quarterfinals, and with Orth well enough to retake his quarterback position, Whittemore went back to being a wide receiver on offense.
“Quarterback takes some reps, the more games we played, the better I felt, for sure,” he said. “It was nice to be back in your old spot. It was kind of like a new season started, playing in that playoff game.”
On the basketball court, with Whittemore in charge at point guard, the Bobcats often would be very competitive, especially in the first half, but lose some steam in the second half, finishing the year 8-16.
“I think we struggled to be consistent offensively,” he said. “I think we played some pretty good defense throughout the year.
“We had some scoring lures. That’s what really hurt us.”
A defender who was depended on during Buchholz girls soccer’s playoff run, which ended in the regional finals to state finalist Oviedo, Cama followed some of her soccer teammates to lacrosse (13-4).
“Some of my soccer friends play lacrosse too,” she said. “My sister plays lacrosse. They encouraged me to come out and try out.
“The coaches helped me a lot to get better. It is really fun, because I have a lot of friends on the team.”
As a defender, it is Cama’s job to make sure opponents’ offense doesn’t take shots at the goal.
“There is a lot riding on you in all the games, whenever the goals are scored,” Cama said.
“There is a lot of pressure on you, I like it a lot. My teammates have my back. “We try not to keep our heads down. If someone scores we just have to correct it as soon as possible.”
It is soccer that is Cama’s true love, and the Bobcats (17-5-1) made another strong run in the state playoffs, which included another classic battle with Flagler Palm Coast.
“I love both, I’ve soccer for a lot longer, that’s probably more my sport. I started playing lacrosse just for fun.
“I am really proud of my team, that was an amazing accomplishment this year. We played really well the entire season.”
Columbia: Marquez Bell (So., football, basketball); Eastside: Calontay Key (Sr., football); Gainesville: Christian Miller-Cardwell (football, basketball), Alena Kraus (swimming); Newberry: David Robinson (Sr., football, basketball, baseball), Jessica Parsells (girls basketball, softball); Santa Fe: Garrett McCranie (Sr., baseball, golf), Bailey Ledvina (Sr., softball).
PREVIOUS BIG SCHOOL ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
1999-2000: Gregg Brown (Eastside), Jenilee Garner (Gainesville)
2000-01: Vernell Brown (Gainesville), Khiana Williams (Bradford)
2001-02: Thomas Olmsted (Columbia), Jessica Brady (Santa Fe)
2002-03: Ryan Altenhof (Santa Fe), Candi Hicks (Buchholz)
2003-04: Bo Smith (Buchholz), Bekah Babston (Santa Fe)
2004-05: Avery Barnes (Santa Fe), Bekah Babston (Santa Fe)
2005-06: Tim Shankle (Eastside), Natalie Doss (Buchholz)
2006-07: Linval Joseph (Santa Fe), Wilamena Hopkins (Buchholz)
2007-08: Wiley Sinkus (Eastside), Wilamena Hopkins (Buchholz)
2008-09: John Little (Eastside), Wilamena Hopkins (Buchholz)
2009-10: Brach Bessant (Columbia), Celeste Gomez (Columbia)
2010-11: Tim Jernigan (Columbia), Grace Chrzanowski (Eastside)
2011-12: Sir Jackson (Eastside); Alison Wrench (Fort White)
2012-13: Sir Jackson (Eastside); Logan Boss (Suwannee)
2013-14: Kenric Young (Gainesville); Logan Boss (Suwannee)
2014-15: Bryan Chalifoux (Buchholz); Erica Belforti (Buchholz)
2015-16: Kailya Jackson (P.K. Yonge); Jarvis Roberts (P.K. Yonge)
2016-17: Isaiah Wilson (Gainesville); Carson Toney (Buchholz)
Note: The Sun's small school athlete of the year was selected by high school sports editor Larry Savage with help from area coaches. If a team is not represented, it is because the athletic director did not respond to numerous reminders by email.