Traevis Buchanan makes a catch against Cedar Rapids Washington on Friday. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
CEDAR FALLS – It’s probably the worst kept secret in Iowa football by this point.
West High has a big-time playmaker at wide receiver in highly touted senior Oliver Martin.
An all-American and one of the most highly sought after recruits nationally at his position Martin is the focal point of every opposing game plan.
Lining up across from Martin is one of the best kept secrets around.
Junior Traevis Buchanan has quietly become a dangerous weapon for West High (10-2) and is coming off the best game of his young career, a four-catch, 109-yard performance in a 35-7 semifinal win over Cedar Rapids Washington on Friday.
“A lot of teams think that we only have one weapon and it’s really good because they tend to focus on Oliver the whole game and they should, he’s a great player,” Buchanan said. “I’m over there and they forget about me and Evan (Flitz) finds me and that just opens our offense up.”
Buchanan has proved in the postseason to be more than just a compliment to Martin.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound speedster has developed into a legitimate playmaker.
Buchanan has caught 11 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown in three playoff games, going over 100-yards receiving twice.
Traveis Buchanan catches a pass against Washington. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports.
“He’s developed into a really nice receiver,” Martin said. “Over the last half of the season he has started to gain a lot of confidence and he has started making plays, which is big for us.”
In his first year of varsity football Buchanan needed some time to adjust.
He showed flashes of his potential early, catching a pass in each of the Trojans’ first six games but admitted he struggled at times to accept his role on a team filled with talented playmakers.
As the season went on Buchanan began to settle into his spot on the team and the results have followed.
“The hardest year of football for a high school player is the junior year where they just have to find their role,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “Traevis has been one of our best players at the receiver position all year and we knew he had it, it was just a matter of time.”
When senior Devontae Lane moved to running back from receiver in week five it created an opportunity for Buchanan to get more involved in the passing game.
The junior has taken advantage.
Buchanan caught seven passes for 76 yards in the final two games of the regular season and has shined in the playoffs.
He led West High with five catches for 130 yards in an opening round upset of fifth-ranked Bettendorf and had two grabs for 52 yards including a 43-yard touchdown catch in a win over No. 6 Cedar Rapids Prairie.
“I was really nervous at the beginning of the year but having Oliver and Devontae there to help me and build my confidence and talk to me after every game and tell me what I need to do has helped,” Buchanan said. “Those guys have helped me a lot and Hartwig and (offensive coordinator Andrew) Durham have kept me confident.”
Buchanan has 26 catches for 503 yards on the season with more than half of those yards coming in three postseason games.
His breakthrough has helped West High reach the Class 4A state title game for the first time since 1999 where it will face second-ranked West Des Moines Dowling (11-1) on Friday at 7:06 p.m. in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
“We’ve had to push him hard at times but kids are kids and they need to be pushed,” Hartwig said. “I’m proud of him and what he’s done and how he’s handled being pushed.”
Buchanan gives West High another big-play threat opposite Martin and has helped Flitz average 268 yards passing in three postseason wins.
In the semifinal win over Cedar Rapids Washington, Buchanan had receptions for 56 and 23 yards and is averaging better than 26 yards per catch in the postseason.
“He put in a lot of work in the offseason on his footwork and speed and he has been working with Oliver,” Flitz said. “Those two weapons on the outside make our offense so dynamic.”