The spotlight for Bay County football shined brightly on Bozeman.
The Bucks were the lone county team to post a winning record. They advanced to the playoffs for the second time in school history in capping their best season under Coach Loren Tillman. The season ended in a regional semifinal, but that defeat did little to diminish from a successful campaign, not only for the team but many individuals.
Bozeman opened with blowout wins over West Gadsden, Port St. Joe and Vernon in setting up a District 3-1A showdown at Holmes County. The Bucks made several key mistakes in a 39-20 loss to the Blue Devils, but Tillman vowed improvement and his team took him up on his message.
Non-district wins over Baker, Cottondale and Wewahitchka followed. The Bucks then lost to Liberty County in a close but undisciplined 27-18 outcome. Heavy importance was placed on the remaining district games and preparation paid off.
Bozeman blasted state runner-up Chipley 49-14 Oct. 19 in a watershed victory. The Bucks clinched second place in 3-1A and a playoff berth with a 46-27 win at South Walton on Nov. 2.
The season ended with another loss at Liberty County in the opening round of the playoffs, this time 26-7. That said, Bozeman produced a school record for wins with an 8-3 record, all the losses coming against teams that reached the postseason.
Bozeman was led by electric senior quarterback Jacob Martinez, who eclipsed 1,000 yards both passing and running. The offense was complemented by speedy Vernon transfer Jovani Bell (713 yards) and capable receiving options in David Elmore (334 yards, four touchdowns), James Jernigan (269, three) and Tommy Cook (297, three).
Chandler Burkett paced the defense with 122 tackles and will move on to the Division I level in college. Reed Ruddick added 72 tackles and David McKee 68 stops for the Bucks.