Saturday, July 21, 2007

Inaugural East Texas Passing Academy to be held at Buckeye Stadium


The first annual East Texas Passing Academy will be held at Buckeye Stadium beginning Monday, July 23, and ending Thursday, July 26. The camp will run from 6:30-9:30 p.m. each night. The camp is for athletes entering grades 7-12 this fall. Cost of the camp is $100.

The directors of the camp will be Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor, and his assistants Matt Turner and Kurt Traylor. Jeff Traylor and his staff have consistently produced some of the top offenses in the state of Texas , as well as develop several Division 1 college and NFL quarterbacks.

Traylor has assisted former Southlake Carroll head coach Todd Dodge at his passing academy for several years, and decided to start this camp at Dodge’s urging. “He's always told me we should do one in East Texas , because no one really does this type of camp,” Traylor said.

The camp is designed to allow each athlete the opportunity for multiple repetitions, and up-close attention to technique from the coaching staff. Traylor expects most of the participants to be from Gilmer, however dozens of athletes from around East Texas have pre-registered for the camp.

“We're coaches. Coaching is coaching,” Traylor stated, explaining why the camp is open to other schools’ athletes. “It's just something that I've always wanted to do. I've got a lot of really good coaches and we just want to help kids. Coaches love to coach. The kids that come to this kind of camp are so fun to coach.”

Traylor expects this first camp to be small, with hopes of continued growth over the years. “Todd's first year he had forty, and now he's got 800 kids,” commented Traylor, who has already found a sponsor for the camp. “Nike is going to sponsor the camp and give each camper a Dri-FIT shirt and there will be Nike give-aways all week long.”

Anyone wanting to participate in the camp can sign-up at Buckeye stadium on Monday before the camp starts at 6:30 p.m.

Gilmer-Tatum game may be televised


The Gilmer Buckeyes' football game against the Tatum Eagles might be moved from a scheduled Friday night meeting at Eagle Stadium in Tatum to a Thursday night contest at Tyler's Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. The move would accommodate a possible live television broadcast by Fox Sports Southwest.

Tatum head coach Andy Evans told the Longview News-Journal that he had been contacted by Titus Sports Marketing, the promoters of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic, to see if he would be interested in moving the game to the Classic's open Thursday night, Sept. 6 slot. Evans was reluctant to give up a home game, but at the request of his team captains, decided to pursue the possibility of playing in a televised game.

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, whose Buckeyes have a 4-1 record against Tatum since Traylor took over the program in 2000, said that the decision to move the game is Eagle's alone. “It's Tatum's home game and we're going to play when and where ever they tell us to.”

“Andy's looking out for his kids. He's going to do what's best for Tatum's kids,” said Traylor. “He's stayed in contact with me and let me know what is going on, and I just reassured Andy that whatever he wants to do, we'll do whatever they want to do.”

The Buckeyes and Eagles are arguably the two most successful programs in East Texas. Gilmer sports an impressive 71-14 record under Traylor, and won a Class 3A state championship in 2004. Tatum's record since 2000 is 68-21, including a Class 3A state championship in 2005 and a Class 2A title last season.

Those impressive numbers should be plenty of reasons for television networks to be interested. But Traylor cautions that the possibility of a televised game has been presented before. “It never has come through,” stated Traylor. “So I'm not getting my hopes up too high because I don't want my kids to be disappointed if we're not on TV.”

While the location and date of the game might be up in the air, Traylor said that doesn't matter. “We're going to play them in Tatum, or we'll play them in Tyler, on whatever day they want to play or where ever they want to play. If its on TV good; if it's not, that will be fine too.”

Deal in works to televise Tatum-Gilmer football game


Thursday, July 19, 2007

A deal is in the works that would televise this season's Tatum-Gilmer football game, according to Tatum coach Andy Evans and Titus Sports Marketing spokesman Dave Stephenson.

Evans said Titus approached him and Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor offering the possibility to televise the game, which is during the second week of the season, but that a deal is not finalized and is still in the works.

"We've not officially signed an agreement yet," Evans said. "I haven't signed the contract and I don't know if coach (Traylor) has signed it or not."

Gilmer hosted Tatum last season in a 45-21 Buckeye win, and this year's game was scheduled to be at Eagle Stadium in Tatum. However, University Interscholastic League rules prohibit televising a game on Friday nights, so the game would be held Thursday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. and would be moved to Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler.

Stephenson said the agreement in the works included "six or seven different options," but did not go into any further detail. Evans said his understanding was that Fox Sports Southwest was most likely the channel that would broadcast the game.

"We are working on it and currently working on possible television for that game. It's going to take a couple weeks, but it's something we've been working on," Stephenson said. "It takes quite a while to put something together."

Stephenson said it could be August before a contract was finalized, but Evans is optimistic about the situation.

"It could fall through, but I don't think it's going to," said Evans, who recently got back from a vacation and hasn't been available for any discussion of the agreement.

Evans said he is reluctant to give up a home game, but that he got his captains involved in the decision to pursue the deal and his players wanted the chance to play on television.

"We were approached by this company about this being a marquee game and it being good exposure for our kids," Evans said. "We're doing it for our kids and trying to get our kids some exposure.

"We're getting to do some things at Tatum right now we haven't been able to do before. I asked the kids if they wanted to do it and several of them said yes. We've got some guys we feel like could get some recruiting exposure, and I felt like that was something coach Traylor's kids could benefit from as well."

Stephenson said a game including two established smaller schools was something Titus wants to be involved with.

"It's very seldom you get two very, very good small school programs coming together like they are in the second week of the season," Stephenson said.

Traylor could not be immediately reached for comment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pettway bringing NFL experience home

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Kenneth Pettway, a 2000 Gilmer High School graduate, will offer a free NFL Experience Camp to all kids entering 6-12th grade on Friday, July 13 at Buckeye Stadium in Gilmer. The camp will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at approximately 1:30 p.m.

“It's something that Kenny has wanted to do,” said Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who will provide his coaching staff to help Pettway at the camp. “He's a super young man. He's come back to my camps every year that he could since I've been here. He always speaks to the kids.”

Pettway was a multi-sport talent at Gilmer, where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track, before playing football at Southern Arkansas for two seasons. Pettway transferred to Grambling State where he earned All-SWAC honors his senior year. The Houston Texans drafted Pettway in the 5th round of the 2005 NFL draft.

Pettway spent the 2005 season on the Texans' practice squad before being cut before the 2006 season. The Jaguars signed Pettway a few weeks later, where he played in 7 games, finishing with 5 tackles and 2 sacks. Pettway's performance impressed the Jaguars enough that they offered him a 1-year contract for the 2007 season.

Pettway said that his rise to the NFL was possible because of his chance to attend college. “Go to college and learn something. Get out and explore the world. The world is bigger than Gilmer. That's the message I want to deliver.” “I also want to bring the NFL to them because a lot of kids in this area don't get a chance to get out and see an NFL football game or meet NFL players. I want to bring NFL players to Gilmer so the kids can meet these guys and see that they can be just like them, and I can grow up and be an NFL player.”

In addition to Pettway, current NFL players Alfred Malone of the Texans and Randy Hymes of the Minnesota Vikings are scheduled to attend.

“It's going to be a fun camp. We're going to feed them a pizza lunch; autographs and pictures with NFL players, and NFL give-aways,” said Traylor, who added, “The NFL is paying for all of it, it's free. Free lunch, free t-shirt, free camp.”

“I hope for the event to grow,” stated Pettway. “This is my first year doing it, and if the turn-out is good this year, and we have good participation from the kids, then hopefully I can expand it in the future. I hope to make it an annual event that the kids can look forward to.”

NFL Experience Camp held at Buckeye Stadium

Mirror Photo / M.L. Kirby
OVER 150 YOUTH gather on the midfield ‘G’ at Buckeye Stadium on Friday, July 13, around Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Pettway, left, of the Jacksonville Jaguars, a Buckeye alumnus, and his friends, Alfred Malone of the Houston Texans, and Randy Hymes, recently of the Minnesota Vikings and one of Pettway’s teammates at Grambling State University. The camp sponsored by the National Football League is the first led by Pettway, who graduated from Gilmer High School in 2000.