Friday, August 31, 2007

'Son of a Champion' goes home

Gilmer's Josh Nelson loses fight against leukemia

In Memoriam - Josh Nelson

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers when you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2) The first time I read this verse I thought that the author had to be insane. No one wants to hurt. To see someone you love helpless in pain or agony isn’t a pleasant thing. It is human nature not to enjoy suffering. Why then would the author of this verse make a statement like that? This verse used to be an enigma to me, but in recent trials I fully grasp the meaning of it.

I can recall 2 1/2 years back, on my first day of high school, when my assigned seating in Geography class landed me beside Josh Nelson. Josh and I had known who each other was since third grade, yet we didn’t know anything about each others true self. Who could have foreseen that that mild acquaintanceship would evolve into an unbreakable brotherhood. Throughout the course of our freshman year Josh and I got to know each other on a more personal level. We seemed to somewhat be at the same place in our walks with God. The closer we got to God the closer we were drawn to each other. Over time we became accountability partners, best friends, and even brothers. Any problem that came our way we were able to conquer with the help of God and one another. Then something unexpected happened…Josh got leukemia.

Naturally, I wanted to ask why. My thoughts were, “His mom already has it. Isn’t that enough?” The ironic thing is that Josh, the one person who definitely had an excuse to question, showed me I was wrong. He shocked me with what he said. His words were, “I wouldn’t trade this for the world. God has a plan and it will shine through.” I couldn’t understand what would cause him to make a statement like that. He clarified by telling me that his eyes had been opened through this humbling experience. That everyday is a gift from God, and we are not promised tomorrow, yet we walk around doing things our way on our own schedule. There are two very simple reasons that we are on this planet. They are “to know Him (Jesus Christ) and to make Him known.” That should be our primary focus. Josh explained to me how often we seem to get so lost and caught up in ourselves that we miss out on God’s plan. He could not wait to get out of bed and back in school just so he could share his faith with others. He also told me how his having leukemia is just another way for God to be glorified. He was sincerely thankful that God had chosen to use him as a tool to advance his kingdom and to be a source of inspiration to others. It shocked me. Here is a boy bedridden with cancer, yet he is thankful. I found that through Josh’s eyes being opened mine had been opened.

These times are a struggle to me, yet I have learned something from them. God uses the challenges we face to shape the character within us. If we chose to respond to trials by leaning on God for guidance and letting him carry us through them. Then we will come out of them with a much deeper relationship with Him, more wisdom, and more strength. A coal is turned into a diamond under intense pressure and heat. In the same way we are formed into God’s image in the hardest of times. Another thing I have learned is that God will not let us down. The darkest of times are the most ideal for God to show up. In the book of Daniel Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendago stand against a King and an entire nation to remain loyal to God. They are unwilling to worship a false idol and the penalty for that is death. When the King peers into the furnace he is amazed. Not only are the three men walking around in the core of the inferno, but there is a fourth person there…God. When we are in critical times, if we have faith, God will show up, deliver us, and be glorified. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendago had faith in God and because of that God was glorified and a nations eyes were opened to the truth. Because Josh has had faith in God in this present situation, I can step back and see God’s hand at work. Already there have been people led to Christ, stronger unity in multiple families, and unbelievable renewing of minds. The great thing is, God is still working.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-5) Josh has been my role model through all of this. No matter what has been thrown at him, he has taken it head on. He realizes that this is a test of his faith. That as he goes through this he is being formed into the man God wants him to be. From where I have stood through this I have been able to watch Josh change. He is continually growing into an image of Jesus Christ. All because he has faith in God. The amazing thing is, through this trial I’ve seen myself and other grow into stronger Christians. For these reasons you can find joy amidst trials.

Right now, as I look across this hospital room I’m sitting in, I see a young man who once weighed 175 pounds of muscle and had a full head of hair. Now weighing 140 pounds with sparse patches of hair across his head. He’s fast asleep with an oxygen mask on and multiple tubes connected to him, but I see through that. I see a man of God willing for God to complete his work in him and through him. No matter the cost.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Buckeyes start season with interstate matchup


There have been a lot of firsts for the Gilmer Buckeyes’ football team in their seven seasons under head coach Jeff Traylor. There was the team’s first perfect season and first state championship in 2004. There was the first preseason number one ranking and first-ever out-of-state opponent in 2006. Now the Buckeyes have another first to add to that resume: hosting their first out-of-state opponent.

The Richwood (Louisiana) Rams visit Buckeye Stadium Friday night to kick off the 2007 season for the 7th-ranked Buckeyes. Richwood finished the 2006 season 8-5, losing in the Louisiana Class 3A Quarterfinals despite a 3-game losing streak to start the season. That’s something that Rams receiver Richard Wilson would like to avoid this year. “Last year we started off 0-3 and we kind of got down,” confessed Wilson. “We’re trying to start off on the right track this year, so we hope to win and continue on from there.”

Gilmer however, would love to start the season off exactly the way they started 2006, when they rolled over Las Vegas Bishop Gorman 56-14 in the season opener. Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor doesn’t think that’s likely. “They are as talented as Tatum, Jasper, Liberty-Eylau and Paris,” insisted Traylor.

“They’re very physical, they’re very fast, they’re very athletic,” continued Traylor, “That’s why I like the game. To me the two biggest games on our schedule are Tatum and Liberty-Eylau this year, because I think those are the two teams that are athletically better than us. I think Richwood will be athletically better than us, so that excites me. For us to have a great year, we have to beat those two teams, so this will be a good tune-up for us.”

The Rams are very similar to the Buckeyes on both sides of the football. On offense, Richwood operates primarily from the shotgun and runs the spread. Defensively, the Rams line up in a 4-3 and play mostly man-to-man in the secondary. The Rams averaged 30 points per game last season and return six starters on offense, including Wilson who accounted for over 1,700 all-purpose yards last year as a sophomore.

Another Ram who had an impressive sophomore season was Greg Johnson who rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns as Richwood’s primary running back. This year, Johnson moves to quarterback, a position he last played in junior high. Defensively, the Rams allowed almost 23 points per game, and return only three starters.

Rams head coach Warren Trimble says that his team is ready for their first out-of-state game. “They know it’s a challenge,” stated Trimble. “They’re real excited about it. We know it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

Traylor knows that the Buckeyes face the same challenge, but stressed that the offense will adjust to what the Rams give them. “We’re going to see what their strengths are and their weaknesses, and we’re going to tactically attack that,” Traylor said. “Whatever we see them do defensively and talent-wise; within our plan, it’s already built in. It’s not like we’re going to have to change anything.”

Trimble knows enough about the Buckeyes offense to be worried. “You don’t know who to stop,” said the second year head coach. “You’ve got to be solid on everything you do defensively. They’re big up front, and they got that big back back there, so I know they’re going to try and play some smash-mouth football. The quarterback throws the ball very well. They’ve got those receivers out there that can catch the ball well.”

Trimble is no stranger to Texas football, having coached at Bryan, Corsicana, Denison and Greenville. He’s excited about the chance to introduce his players to Texas high school football, but is careful not to overhype the experience.

“You don’t dwell on it. You just try to prepare your kids to meet the challenge. All we can do is prepare and hopefully win the ballgame, because that’s our objective.”

Traylor insists that there is little difference between the two states’ passion for the game. “I know Louisiana plays great football. They’re proud of their football.”

Another thing the two teams have in common is the desire to learn from this experience. “We’re a team that’s trying to grow up and put our puzzle together,” said Trimble. “We’re just trying to get some kids in the right spot.”

Traylor agreed with Trimble, saying, “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you better.”

“This is going to be a good one,” promised Traylor.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER QB Darian "Stump" Godfrey will make his first start for the varsity Buckeyes Friday night. Godfrey is a 6'1", 195-lb. sophomore.

Richwood Rams vs. Gilmer Buckeyes

Buckeye Stadium, Gilmer

Friday night, Aug. 31 - 7:30 p.m.

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Buckeyes prepare to dash toward playoffs


At the end of the Gilmer Buckeyes final preseason scrimmage, head coach Jeff Traylor stood in front of his kneeling players and reminded them that they had 85 days remaining to reach their off-season focus.

What? Wasn’t the Buckeyes’ regular season opener only eight days away?

“That’s the first playoff game,” explained Traylor. “And I would hope that our program is to the point now that we would expect to be in the playoffs.”

Expectations are something that Traylor knows all about. His 2006 team started the season ranked number one in Class 3A. Buckeyes quarterback G.J. Kinne was on the cover of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. Nothing less than a state championship was expected.

The Buckeyes responded with a 10-0 regular season record. On Nov. 17, the unexpected happened. Gilmer lost in the first round of the playoffs to eventual state champion Liberty-Eylau.

“We started counting down the days we got to play Liberty-Eylau again the day after,” admitted Traylor. “People are still talking about Nov. 17, and how terrible it was that night. And we’re going to play them again Nov. 16, and people are going to talk about that day. Who’s going to win that night will be determined by who does the most in the time between.”

That time between games would become the inspiration for this season’s team motto, “The Dash.”

“Coach [Alan] Metzel’s father George passed away in January,” explained Traylor. “And I was at the funeral where they read the poem “The Dash.” People talked about the day he was born and the day that he died. But it was the dash in the middle that really defines a man’s life.”

Traylor was inspired, and the team’s motto was born. “It was a way we could honor George Metzel and raise [the players] focus every day in practice so we’ll play well that night.”

This isn’t the first time Traylor’s Buckeyes have started a season following a disappointing one. Gilmer’s 2003 squad had a 13-0 record before losing to eventual state champion Atlanta. The unranked 2004 team responded with a perfect 16-0 season and the school’s first state championship. “You would have never thought that team was going to win it; and they did,” recalled Traylor.

Can this year’s team repeat that accomplishment? “I hope,” replied Traylor who cautioned that this year’s team, like last season’s team, has a much harder playoff road.

That’s one of the few similarities from last season’s team. Gone is the number one ranking and the cover of Texas Football, along with the notoriety that comes with it. “The media attention has just disappeared, as compared to last year,” stated Traylor.
The Buckeyes are not quite invisible though, as their 7th place pre-season ranking proves. “This is still the highest we’ve ever been ranked besides from last year,” Traylor noted. “We’re used to it now; we weren’t used to it [last year].”

Offensive Preview

Gilmer’s ranking is in part because of Traylor’s 71-14 record in his seven seasons at his alma mater, and in part because of the Buckeyes’ highly recruited senior class, which includes five players who have committed to play football at major colleges.
All five players are starters on offense. Running back and Oklahoma commitment Justin Johnson (6’1”, 215 lbs.) returns after rushing for 1,040 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 94 carries. Johnson added another 366 yards and 5 touchdowns on 16 receptions. Leading the way for Johnson on the offensive line are Texas commit David Snow (6’4”, 305 lbs.), and Missouri commit Daniel Jenkins (6’5”, 280 lbs.).

Lamar Harris (6’1”, 185 lbs.), a Texas A&M commitment, returns as the team’s leading receiver after catching 46 passes for 748 yards and a school record 14 touchdowns. Transfer Houston Tuminello (6’, 180 lbs.), who has committed to Louisiana Tech, comes to Gilmer after catching 98 passes for 2,069 yards and 22 touchdowns last season for Colleyville Covenant, including a state record 371 receiving yards in one game. Buckeye fans may remember Tuminello as the sophomore receiver that scorched Gilmer for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Buckeyes loss to Canton two years ago.
“We’re going to always score points,” stated Traylor, whose 2006 team lead all schools in the state of Texas with a scoring average of 55 points per game. The Buckeyes racked up 3,468 yards through the air and 2,186 yards on the ground, with a balanced attack of 269 passes and 271 rushes for the season.

“That’s too much for me. That’s too much passing and not enough running,” Traylor complained. “I’ve always wanted to be 65 percent run and 35 percent pass, with 50-50 on yardage. I think that’s perfect football.”

Traylor’s 2007 offense may be forced to keep it on the ground, as sophomore Darian “Stump” Godfrey (6’1”, 195 lbs.) takes over the reins at quarterback after seeing mop-up duty as a freshman last season. Godfrey was impressive running the ball, gaining 198 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns on only 19 carries. His passing experience was limited to 10 completions in 15 attempts for 180 yards and 2 more touchdowns.
“I’ve been real proud of Stump. We’ve thrown a lot at that kid. He’s really stepped up,” stated Traylor, who added that a veteran receiving corps led by Tuminello will really help Godfrey improve. “You don’t have to be so accurate. You just get the ball near him. He’s as good as I’ve ever seen at catching a football.”

Defensive Preview

Despite allowing only 17 points per game in 2006, the Buckeyes’ defense has been highly criticized. “I personally get tired of the rap that we don’t play good defense,” said Traylor, who came to the defense of his unit. “We score so much, the other coach totally changes the way he calls his plays. He’s not calling just to run the clock. He’s thinking these guys are going to score every time. I’ve got to score every time. So that lends itself to a different kind of ball game.”

It also lends itself to the defense being on the field a lot. Last season the Buckeyes defense played 327 of the team’s 528 total minutes. That meant a lot of playing time for Gilmer’s reserves, and that will become valuable this season, as the Buckeyes return only two starters on defense.

Junior cornerback Zach Jones (5’9”, 160 lbs.), and senior cornerback Dustin Jones (5’ 10”, 170 lbs.) are the lone starters returning. They will be joined in the secondary by Lamar Harris, along with juniors Devane Clark (5’ 10”, 170 lbs.) and D.J. Stanley (5’ 10”, 160 lbs.), and sophomores Tristin Holt (5’ 9”, 170 lbs.), Braylon Webb (6’, 170 lbs.), and Paul Chesnut (5’ 9”, 170 lbs.).

Justin Johnson should see considerable time at linebacker, along with seniors Ross Stevens (6’ 1”, 180 lbs.), Brennan Thompson (6’, 205 lbs.), and Cord Dyer (5’ 10”, 160 lbs.). Juniors Josh Thompson (5’ 10”, 175 lbs.), and Kendrick Starling (5” 11”, 215 lbs.), along with sophomores Vance Green (5’ 10”, 185), Mikey Wilson (5’ 10”, 175 lbs.), and Kedon Franklin (5’ 9”, 170 lbs.) round out the linebacking corps.
Several players are expected to rotate in the defensive line, including seniors David Smith (5’ 11”, 200 lbs.), Snow, and Brett Frase (5’ 9”, 160 lbs.); along with juniors Dakota Hagler (6’ 1”, 260), Johnathan Rockwell (6’ 1”, 220 lbs.), Damien Redditt (5’ 11”, 180 lbs.), Hayden Holmes (6’, 185 lbs.), and Colton Gage (5’ 9”, 170 lbs.).
“Our defense is going to surprise some people,” Traylor predicted.

Opponents Preview

The Buckeyes pre-district schedule is a potential minefield. For the second straight season, Gilmer will start off with an out-of-state opponent, when the Richwood, Louisiana Rams travel to Buckeye Stadium on Aug. 31. The Rams finished with an 8-5 record after losing in the Louisiana Class 3A Quarterfinals.

“The opener is huge, because it’s your opener. It’s at home and we’re ready to get the Liberty-Eylau loss off,” said Traylor.

Gilmer will turn right around and take on two-time defending Texas state champion Tatum the next week in the opening game of the East Texas Football Classic in Tyler.
“Those two are the most important ones to me,” admitted Traylor. “I am excited about playing them because they will prepare us to play Liberty-Eylau.”

The Buckeyes will return home to Buckeye Stadium to host the Daingerfield Tigers and the Atlanta Rabbits, with an open week and a road game in Center between the two home games. “If we don’t win those first two; the Daingerfield and Atlanta games take on a whole other magnitude,” warned Traylor.

The pre-district schedule ends with a trip to Center to take on the Rough Riders.
The Buckeyes enter District 15-AAA play as overwhelming favorites to capture their 7th consecutive undefeated district championship. That quest starts at Sabine on Oct. 12 and ends at home against Gladewater on Nov. 10. In between, the Buckeyes will travel to White Oak and Spring Hill, and host Mineola.

Traylor points to the final two district games as crucial contests for his team. “To me, it’s Gladewater and Spring Hill,” said Traylor. “Those two teams have the ability to beat us.”

Then on Nov. 16 the dash will come to an end, and Traylor and his team will get their chance at redemption. “I really like this team,” Traylor confirmed. “Is that going to be enough to get over the hump and beat Liberty-Eylau? I don’t know.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE VARSITY members for 2007 include, from left, front row, Lamar Harris, Zach Jones, Houston Tuminello, Devane Clark, Matt Dodd, Tristin Holt, Vance Green, Jake Ashley, Darian Godfrey, Paul Chesnut, Brennan Thompson; second row, D.J. Stanley, Dustin Jones, Hunter Harrison, Ross Stevens, Kyle Bowden, Kendrick Starling, Ben Griffith, Kedon Franklin, Brett Frase, Justin Johnson, Matt Potter; third row, Shaquille Ector, Braylon Webb, Tyrone Fort, Cord Dyer, Josh Thompson, Joseph Crocker, Jeremy Jackson, Damien Redditt, Mikey Wilson, Sam Trevino, Michael Pierson; fourth row, Colton Gage, Adam Martin, David Smith, Tyler Tucker, Aaron Borens, Chip Elms, Jacob Ramsey, Jared Harborth; fifth row, Hayden Holmes, Dakota Hagler, Daniel Jenkins, Cody Lee, Garrett Adkins, Kirby Spencer, Clayton Hampton; sixth row, David Snow, Daniel McClaren, Cody Kern, Michael Nuckolls, Marquis Carr, Tevon Godfrey, Arsenio Elder and Justin Fielden. Not shown is Jonathan Rockwell.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lunch with Coach Traylor begins

The Gilmer Buckeyes’ Athletic Booster Club’s Lunch with Coach Traylor started Monday, Aug. 27, at the Gilmer Country Club at noon.

Attendees must present their Buckeye Booster Club Membership Card at the door. Memberships will be sold before the lunch. Regular memberships are only $25.

Gilmer head football coach Jeff Traylor will give Booster Club members behind-the-scenes insight into the Buckeyes, and preview each week’s opponent.

These will be held each Monday during the season (except for Labor Day; lunch that week will be on Tuesday).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Buckeyes tame Lions


The Gilmer Buckeyes prepared for the circus of the regular season by taming the New Boston Lions 4-0 in the team’s final scrimmage Thursday night in New Boston.

The Buckeyes’ Justin Johnson saw his first action of the preseason, and made the most of the opportunity with three touchdown runs. Houston Tuminello scored the other Gilmer touchdown, catching a Darian Godfrey pass.

Tuminello’s score came in the controlled portion of the scrimmage, along with Johnson’s first touchdown run, as the Buckeyes took advantage of two Lion turnovers. Dakota Hagler recovered a fumble, and Ross Stevens collected the first of his two interceptions on the night, giving Gilmer a comfortable lead heading into the final 20-minute game-condition scrimmage.

The Buckeyes’ offense failed to crank on its first possession, gaining only a yard before getting off a 26-yard punt, giving the ball to the Lions at their own 43-yard line. New Boston got down to the Buckeyes’ 18-yard line in only five plays, but came away empty-handed when Gilmer’s Braylon Webb recovered another Lion fumble.
That was the spark that the Buckeyes’ high-octane offense needed. Godfrey connected with Lamar Harris on the next play for a 52-yard gain down to the Lion’s 20-yard line. On the following play, Johnson took advantage of his massive offensive line by taking the football to the right side and going untouched into the end zone.

New Boston took possession of the football at their own 30-yard line, only to get a 5-yard penalty on their first play. The second play was even worse for the Lions as the Buckeyes’ Stevens picked off an errant pass at the Lions’ 33-yard line.
Johnson did the honors on the very next play, this time to the left side, 33 yards untouched into the end zone.

On their next possession, New Boston would try to keep the Buckeyes’ offense off the field with 10 straight running plays that saw the Lions reach Gilmer’s 13-yard line before the Buckeyes knocked down a pass in the end zone on 4th down.

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor was pleased with his team’s intensity. “We got after it a little bit better. We were a little more excited,” commented Traylor before switching gears and addressing his team’s weaknesses. “We had a ton of penalties. That is a major concern; way too many penalties. We’ve got to quit holding people. We’ve got to get our hands inside, and quit doing that.”

Defensively, Traylor was concerned about the Lions’ ability to run up the middle on the Buckeyes, but was excited about the Black Flag’s big plays. “We created turnovers tonight. I think we got three or four turnovers; that was good to see.”

Traylor was also happy to play in game-like conditions that allowed his offense to do what it does best. “Our strength on offense is that we don’t huddle,” said Traylor. “We’ve been having to huddle every time [in scrimmages]. Us getting in a huddle is a comedy routine; we don’t even know where to stand. So going no-huddle for the first time was a tremendous help.”

The Buckeyes’ offensive statistics seem to prove Traylor’s theory, as Gilmer racked up 145 yards on only 10 plays during the game-like scrimmage.

All of this means that the Buckeyes are ready for their first regular season game here Friday, Aug. 31 against Richwood (La.), right?

“Oh no, we’re not ready,” replied Traylor. “I just hope they’re less ready than we are.”

Game Condition Scrimmage Statistics

Gilmer Offense

Rushing- 6 for 81 yards, 2 TDs
Justin Johnson TD runs of 20 & 33 yards
Passing- 2-4 for 64 yards
Total- 10 plays for 145 yards, 2 TDs
First Downs- 2

New Boston Offense

Rushing- 15 for 84 yards
Passing- 1-3 for 12 yards
Total- 18 plays for 96 yards
First Downs- 5

Buckeyes’ Scout Team Players of the Week

Dustin Hardin
Joseph Crocker
Tamile Harris
Kirby Spencer

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S JUSTIN JOHNSON heads for an opening in his offensive line as Gilmer drives for a touchdown in the scrimmage at New Boston on Thursday, Aug. 23.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gilmer ties Kilgore in first scrimmage


“We’ve got a lot to do.” That’s how Gilmer Buckeyes head football coach Jeff Traylor summarized his team’s performance following their first scrimmage of the season Saturday, Aug. 18, against the Kilgore Bulldogs.

Despite two touchdowns for each team, the Bulldogs looked better on the statistics sheet, out-gaining the Buckeyes 338 to 254 total yards. Gilmer also committed three turnovers, while Kilgore had none.

“The statistics don’t look good,” admitted Traylor, who blamed the low yardage totals on dropped passes. “If you weren’t at the game, those drops make the quarterbacks look bad. So if you catch the ones you’re supposed to, and [do not have] a couple of bad choices by the quarterbacks, we would have been okay in the passing game.”
Buckeyes’ quarterbacks combined to complete only eight passes out of 27 attempts, while throwing two interceptions. “When you throw the ball as much as we do, you’re going to look bad that early,” said Traylor.

Even though the offense was inconsistent, Traylor was happy with his big men. “Offensive line played well,” said Traylor. “It was good to see Cody Lee come back from his injury. We were really worried about how he was going to look, and he played well. Chip Elms played well. [Daniel] Jenkins has gotten more physical, and Garrett [Adkins] played well.”

Defensively, Traylor was pleased with his unit’s results, but not their intensity. “We weren’t very physical on defense,” Traylor lamented. “We tackled well, we didn’t miss many tackles. “We just weren’t very physical.”

Despite yielding 338 total yards and 15 first downs, the Buckeyes held the Bulldogs scoreless until Kilgore’s final possession of the scrimmage. “If we had played more physical, I’d really be excited about this team, but since we didn’t, I’m a little scared,” explained Traylor. “I hope we’re not too nice.”

Traylor also hopes that his younger players can mature quickly. “We had twelve sophomores play,” stated Traylor. “You have to remember that the last time they played in a football game it was against Spring Hill’s freshman team, and now they’re playing Kilgore’s varsity, so the game is moving a lot faster for those sophomores,” Traylor explained.

“We’ve got about 15 players that need a little bit of work in the scrimmages, and we’ve got about 25 that need an NFL preseason; they need five games,” Traylor joked. “I don’t need to watch Lamar Harris, Justin Johnson and those guys play. I know that they can play, we’re looking for the other guys.”

“We’ve got a lot to do, but it’s that time of the year,” summarized Traylor. “I’ve never had a scrimmage where I didn’t have that to say.”

The Buckeyes travel to New Boston Thursday, Aug. 23, for the team’s final scrimmage. Freshmen will start at 5 p.m. Junior Varsity will play at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity teams around 7 p.m.

Gilmer Offense

Total Plays-50
Total Yards-254
Rushing-23 attempts for 45 yards
Passing-8 of 27 for 209 yards, 2 TDs
First Downs-4
Turnovers-3 (2 int., 1 fumble)

Kilgore Offense

Total Plays-53
Total Yards-338
Rushing-33 attempts for 129 yards, 2 TDs
Passing-11 of 20 for 209 yards

Traylor expects good season


GILMER ROTARY CLUB recently heard about prospects for the coming football season from Gilmer High School Coach Jeff Traylor and some of the 2007 Buckeyes. From left are Justin Johnson, David Snow, Coach Traylor, Lamar Harris and Brennan Thompson.

“Building character in young men and women is what Gilmer Buckeye Athletics is all about.”—Coach Jeff Traylor

Jeff Traylor, Gilmer High School athletic director and head football coach, recently spoke to the Gilmer Rotary Club for the eighth consecutive year, promising to do his best. The Buckeyes’ first scrimmage was scheduled for last Saturday morning against Chapel Hill, but due to the fatal car accident of one of their players, it was cancelled.

The Buckeyes were able to schedule a replacement scrimmage against Kilgore.

Their final scrimmage is tomorrow evening (Aug. 23) beginning at 6 p.m. in New Boston. The season opens here at home on Aug. 31 against Richwood (La.). Kickoff at Buckeye Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.

Coach Traylor explained “The Dash,” the team’s motto this year. He began with a little history about the man who inspired it:

George Metzel, Coach Alan Metzel’s father, worked with the students, coaches, and players, volunteering his time, talents, and energy to doing everything he could to help the team. Rev. Metzel did everything from praying with the team to mowing the lawn in the field. He was an inspiration and a constant reminder of the love of Jesus Christ working through one man.

George Metzel passed away this year in March, so his tombstone reads 1940 to 2007; he was born in 1940 and died in 2007.

This does not tell anything about the sacrifices of this wonderful man. The dash in the middle is what he accomplished. The importance in our life is our contribution between our birth and death, or the dash between birth and death. We are all born and we will all die but the dash in the middle defines who we are.

Traylor went on to explain that last year Gilmer was disappointed with the outcome of the Liberty-Eylau game (a 39-36 bi-district loss to the Leopards, who went on to win the Class 3A, Division I state championship), but the Buckeyes may be able to redeem themselves, because the two teams will very likely meet again on the field on Nov. 16 in a Class 3A, Division I bi-district game. By one poll, Gilmer is currently ranked 7th in the state, while Liberty-Eylau is ranked 2nd.

It has been said that Gilmer will be lucky to win three state championships in 20 years. In other words, the Buckeyes will not win state 17 times. People cannot expect Gilmer to win 20 times in a row, but under the coaching of Coach Jeff Traylor, Gilmer can look forward to some exciting football games this fall.

According to sources, Gilmer’s greatest strength is the offensive line. The greatest weakness, however, is the defense due in part to 10 starters graduating last year. Coach Traylor and Charles Turner gave an update on Josh Nelson’s condition, saying that although he is out of ICU now, he is very weak and will expect the bone marrow test results in two weeks.

Josh is on several prayer lists around town, including the one for the Gilmer Rotary Club. With Josh’s friends heading off to college, the young man has been depressed. Encouraging letters can be e-mailed to Josh at: Last year, the Gilmer Buckeyes won six consecutive district games and were 10-0 overall in the regular season. Coach Traylor says, “We may not win state this year, but the kids will do the best they can.” He expresses confidence in his team, saying, “We are good enough to win state this year.” The competition to make the team will be tough, as there are 150-plus players this year, with 56 kids in the varsity picture.

Gilmer has good coaches and assistant coaches. The kids have good relationships with the coaches and want to please them. Coach Traylor deals with the kids daily, saying, “They are just boys in big bodies.” He makes sure they know there are consequences for the things they do. They are held accountable.

As for this year’s players, three seniors received full scholarships, and one is still being recruited. The Gilmer mentor says that every senior has a year video on them, ready to play when they get to college. Most kids played from junior high school all the way to high school, and have not lost many games.

Starters on the team attending the Rotary Club Meeting included: Justin Johnson, #22, middle linebacker and running back, receiving a full scholarship to Oklahoma University; Lamar Harris, #2, receiver and safety, attending Texas A&M University with a full scholarship; David Snow, #76, offensive line and nose guard, recruited by University of Texas; and Brennan Thompson, #12, outside linebacker and wide receiver, planning to attend North Texas or Louisiana-Monroe. Daniel Jenkins was not at the meeting but will be receiving a full scholarship to the University of Missouri. Each player was allowed to give an opinion on their views of the team this year.

David Snow said “Pride is our strength this year.”

According to Lamar Harris, “Character is the strength of the team — we won’t give up.”

Justin Johnson mentioned that the team’s strength can be explained by the Buckeyes having eight senior captains. “This is the first time this has happened in three years.”

Brennan Thompson mentioned how well the team works together: “All the classes get along and all 28 kids attend practice every single day.”

Courtesy Photo
GILMER ROTARY CLUB recently heard about prospects for the coming football season from Gilmer High School Coach Jeff Traylor and some of the 2007 Buckeyes. From left are Justin Johnson, David Snow, Coach Traylor, Lamar Harris and Brennan Thompson.

Coach Traylor introduces Bucks

Mirror Photo / M.L. Kirby
DUSTIN JONES, left, is introduced at Meet the Buckeyes Saturday, Aug. 11, as Athletic Director Jeff Traylor explains Jones has committed verbally to attend Stephen F. Austin State University in 2008. More than 500 attended the toasty gathering in what was the hottest day to date.

Gilmer Buckeyes 2007 Football Schedule

Wk 0

8/31 vs Richwood (LA)

Wk 1

9/6 at Tatum (changed to TMF Rose Stadium in Tyler)

Wk 2

9/14 vs Daingerfield

Wk 3

9/21 Open

Wk 4

9/28 at Center

Wk 5

10/5 vs Atlanta

Wk 6

10/12 at Gladewater Sabine

Wk 7

10/19 at White Oak

Wk 8

10/26 vs Mineola

Wk 9

11/3 at Longview Spring Hill

Wk 10

11/10 vs Gladewater

Friday, August 17, 2007

'Meet the Buckeyes' held at stadium on Aug. 11

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
LAMAR HARRIS joins his teammates as Coach Jeff Traylor
introduces him at 'Meet the Buckeyes' Saturday night. Harris
has already made a verbal commitment to attend Texas A&M in

Buckeyes to scrimmage Bulldogs in Kilgore

This is a change in plans because of a tragedy which hit Chapel Hill.

Chapel Hill football suffers tragedy

Gilmer sets scrimmage with Kilgore

Friday, August 10, 2007

Coach Traylor 'very pleased' with first practice


An army of 141 Buckeyes showed up for their first football practice on Monday and Tuesday, as practice began for the 2007 season. Ninety-four student-athletes reported to the new Field House Monday evening for the 10th-12th grade practice, and another forty-seven 9th grade football players went through their first practice Tuesday morning.

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor liked what he saw in his varsity team’s first day. “I was very pleased at how well we executed.” remarked Traylor, whose Buckeyes finished 10-1 last season. “Our coaches just did a wonderful job tonight. We were very organized. You could tell we were ready to get the bur off of us. That Liberty-Eylau loss is still stinging our coaches tremendously. We coached hard tonight.”

Traylor designed the first day of practice to be the most challenging in his eight years at his alma mater. “We gave them the hardest first practice. That’s the most conditioning we’ve ever done for a first practice, and they just kept bouncing back.”

That wasn’t a surprise to Traylor, who said that the first day of practice doesn’t reveal what type of team he will have. “I already know. You know before you get here. We do so much work year-round. There are very rarely any surprises, because we test these kids so hard before they get here. So we already had a pretty good barometer on this team.”

So what is Traylor’s take on this year’s squad? “We’re not as fast; we’re not as athletic, that’s obvious,” replied Traylor. “But, I like this team. I think there is a really, really strong group of seniors. I think we’re really going to be able to push this team.”

The Buckeyes will practice every evening this week from 6-7:30 p.m. and again from 8:30-10 p.m. at Buckeye Stadium. The public is invited to attend.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
THE STRENGTH of the 2007 Buckeyes is in the very experienced and talented offensive line with two 4-year starters and one 3-year leader anchoring the middle. From left are Clayton Hampton, Daniel Jenkins, David Snow, Chip Elms, Cody Lee and Garrett Adkins responding to Coach Kurt Traylor, while Coach Joey Jackson watches during the team’s first practice on Monday.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Buckeyes to begin practices

The Gilmer Buckeyes will start two-a-day practices Monday, Aug. 6, with 10th-12th grade student-athletes reporting to the new Field House at 5 p.m. Team meetings will start at 5:30 p.m., with the first practice running from 6-7:30 p.m. at Buckeye Stadium. After a short break, meetings will resume at 8 p.m., followed by the final practice session from 8:30-10 p.m.
Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor is ready for the start of the new season. “It’s always an exciting time because you don’t know what’s going to happen; you never know. These are always fun times,” said Traylor, who begins his 8th season in Gilmer with an amazing 71-14 record.
The Buckeyes will enjoy the use of the school’s new Field House completed this spring. “We can fit so many more kids into the locker rooms, and we can handle so many more kids in the weight room, so it’s going to have a lot of benefits,” stated Traylor.
In addition to the new Field House, another change for Traylor’s Buckeyes will be more practices before the start of school, due to the State Legislature’s mandatory start date of August 27th. “We’ll have three weeks of two-a-days, which that will be nice because we’re going to be so young. We’re so young on defense, that we need all that extra practice,” commented Traylor. “I think we only had about seven days of two-a-day practices last year, versus this year where we’ll have fifteen.”
This will be the third year that the Buckeyes have practiced in the evening on the stadium’s field turf installed in 2005. “We love it,” Traylor explained. “One, a lot of people come out and watch us play, and two, the heat. And I like it that my kids only have to come one time a day.”
Last year, an estimated 250 people watched the Buckeyes first practice sessions. “I think it just shows how important it is to this community, and how exciting it is for them to go out there and watch those kids,” stated Traylor. “The more people that are there, the better; boys like to play in front of crowds.”
Incoming freshmen football players will report to the new Field House Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. Practice will run from 9:00-10:30 a.m.

Mirror Photo
BUCKEYE STADIUM will begin to see a lot more activity on Monday, Aug. 6, and players and fans alike hope it will still be in use for practices well into December.