Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gilmer 63, Center 6

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Godfrey, Gilmer Rip Center, 63-6

From the Longview News-Journal:

Godfrey guides Gilmer to rout of Center

From the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel:

Gilmer crushes Center, 63-6

Friday, September 28, 2007

Buckeyes travel to Center to face Roughriders


When the Center Roughriders made the 100-mile trip to Gilmer last year, things couldn’t have been much worse for coach Ron Callahan’s team. The Roughriders were 1-3 and had scored only 20 points in their first four games while allowing 130 points.
Fast forward one year and things are worse for Center as the Roughriders are 0-4 and have scored only 8 points in their first four games while giving up 157 points to their opponents. The only thing that has gotten better for the Roughriders this season is Gilmer has to make the 100-mile trek to Center for Friday night’s 7:30 kickoff.

The Buckeyes were rude hosts last season, jumping out to a 43-0 halftime lead before finishing off the Roughriders, 64-6, giving Center their worst loss in a miserable 2-8 season. And despite Gilmer losing three offensive starters to major colleges, Callahan believes that this year’s Buckeyes will be harder to stop.
“I think Gilmer is better than they were last year. I think on offense they are more explosive than they were last year,” said Callahan, who is in his second season at Center. “Any time you put 71 points on Tatum you’re very, very good.”

That would be the same Tatum team that beat Center 55-2 the very next week. Despite the worse record, Callahan insists that his team has improved as well. “We’re playing a lot better than we ever did last year, we just don’t have a whole lot to show for it. We’re just trying to compete as much as we can with the teams that we are facing.”

That would be the two defending state champions, one 3A playoff team, and a 4A team that the Roughriders have played in their first four games. Liberty-Eylau, Tatum, Chapel Hill, and Nacogdoches have all dominated Center.
Now the Roughriders have to try and stop the 4th-ranked Buckeyes. “I just hope that we can keep them held down and that we can put some points on the scoreboard,” said Callahan. That scenario seems unlikely considering that out of 174 Class 3A teams, Gilmer’s 48.3 points per game ranks 4th, while Center’s 2 points per game ranks 172nd.

Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor knows better than to look at the statistics. “There’s an upset every week, and if we don’t want them to be the Appalachian State, we can’t fall asleep,” warned Traylor. “We’ve got to take care of ourselves.”
In case you’re not a college football fan; Appalachian State is the Division 1-AA team that stunned a 5th ranked Michigan team just a few weeks ago.

Traylor insists that the Roughriders have the personnel to compete with the Buckeyes. “Center has good players. That’s not the problem. They have to play the toughest 3A schedule in the state of Texas. That schedule is a killer. They’re struggling with those tough teams that they’re playing.”

Struggling is putting it mildly. The Roughriders have been held to under 100 yards of total offense in their last three games and have allowed four defensive touchdowns in their last two games. Callahan admits that the Roughriders’ eight turnovers this season have hand-cuffed his team. “When we played Tatum, we gave up 21 points on the offensive side; two fumbles that they picked up and scored on and the quarterback’s arm was hit one time in the act of throwing and a defensive lineman caught it and scored. That’s what we’ve got to stop.”

In contrast, the Buckeyes have committed only three turnovers while racking up an amazing 525 yards per game this season, while Gilmer’s Black Flag Defense has held teams scoreless in 9 of 12 quarters.

The Roughriders and Buckeyes do have one thing in common; both start sophomore quarterbacks. Jaylen Short (6-1, 165) operates under center in the Roughriders’ multiple-I offense, while Darian Godfrey (6-1, 195) directs the Buckeyes’ spread attack. Both quarterbacks have impressed the opposing coach.

“I think the quarterback is unbelievable,” marveled Callahan. “He’s throwing the ball real well, but where he’s really hurting people is his running the ball. There are a lot of seniors around him to make him really look great. We also have a sophomore quarterback playing; it’s just that he has a lot more sophomores around him.”

Short showed what he was capable of in the season opener against Chapel Hill when he passed for 182 yards and a touchdown. That performance got Traylor’s attention. “I really like Center’s quarterback. He’s a good looking sophomore. He’s a big, athletic kid, and plays hard every snap no matter what the score is, no matter how bad he’s getting hit, he stays in there. He’s a real competitor, I really like that kid.”
Center’s quarterback is not all that has impressed Traylor. “Defensively they’re pretty good,” stated Traylor. “They’ve got some good football players on defense. They play hard and they get after you.”

The Buckeyes are coming off an open week, following a lackluster performance in a 35-12 win over Daingerfield. “It kind of worked out well that we didn’t play so well against Daingerfield because I think it really got their attention,” Traylor admitted. “The open week was a good work week. I know that we were better on the practice field. They were sharper and more attentive. You never know until you play; that’s why we have the test on Friday.”

A big part of that test will be how the Buckeyes react to the season’s first visit to a hostile stadium. “This team hasn’t played on the road yet. We’ve had two home games and a neutral [site game]. This is our first time to hit the road.”

Traylor admitted the difficulty in keeping his team focused while playing teams that are huge underdogs. “We’re going to have to find a way to stay motivated. We’ve got 54 days until the playoffs begin,” reminded Traylor. “Last years team from this point on didn’t get much better. We kind of digressed and ultimately that led to our down fall. This year’s team has 54 days to continue to improve. This team has got to continue to look at the big picture; and we’ve got 54 days to get ready, and that’s what we will keep stressing.”

Directions to Center’s Roughrider Stadium: From US 96 South in Center, turn right (West) at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on County Road 1668. The stadium is located approximately ½ mile away, off of Roughrider Drive between Moffett Primary School and the Center High School Campus. Visitor parking is located in the lot Northwest of the high school between the high school and the stadium.


Offense - Desmond Johnson
Defense - J.T. Beecham

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Buckeyes cruise to win over Daingerfield


The Gilmer Buckeyes sprinted to a 21-0 first quarter lead, then set the cruise-control for the final three quarters in a 35-12 victory over the Daingerfield Tigers Friday night at Buckeye Stadium. The win was the 22nd in a row at home for the Buckeyes and improved their season record to 3-0.

Despite racking up an impressive 570 yards in total offense, and holding the Tigers to only two fourth quarter touchdowns, Gilmer Head Coach Jeff Traylor was unhappy with the play of his team. “It wasn’t near the performance I was hoping it would be,” admitted Traylor, who improved his record against the Tigers to 6-3. “I’ve been in this business long enough to understand that you better enjoy your wins. Whenever you beat Daingerfield by 23 points you got to be happy; I just think we can play better.” Favored by more than five touchdowns, the 4th ranked Buckeyes needed only 1:44 to get on the scoreboard with a 19-yard touchdown run by Justin Johnson that capped an impressive 5-play, 74-yard drive. Adan Olivaris kicked the first of his four extra-points, giving Gilmer a 7-0 lead.

Daingerfield responded with a time-consuming drive that took 4:25 off the clock, but produced no points when the drive stalled at the Buckeyes’ 34-yard line. The Buckeyes’ quick-strike offense needed only four plays and 1:19 off the clock to go up 14-0 when Darian “Stump” Godfrey lofted a 36-yard pass to Houston Tuminello.

The Tigers’ woes only got worse on their second possession, when back-to-back illegal formation penalties wasted a Johnie Hurndon run into Buckeyes’ territory, forcing the Tigers to punt to Gilmer from their own 36-yard line.

The Buckeyes took advantage of Tuminello’s 15-yard punt return, taking over at their own 44-yard line with 2:28 to play in the first quarter. After starting with a 10-yard penalty, Gilmer’s offense rode their elusive quarterback to a third touchdown when Godfrey took it in from three yards out, giving the sophomore quarterback 50 yards rushing on only four carries for the drive.

“Stump really played well; he played great,” said Traylor. “That was a bright spot. I think that was the best I’ve seen Stump play.”

Godfrey’s touchdown gave the Buckeyes 211 yards of total offense for the quarter to go with the 21-point lead. That seemed to satisfy the Buckeyes, who managed to barely outscore the Tigers 14-12 the remaining 36 minutes. “We just struggled,” stated Traylor. “Our effort wasn’t good. Our execution was terrible. We weren’t focused. We were distracted by parents’ night. [We had] a lot of mental mistakes and penalties.”

While Traylor focused on his team’s miscues, he also credited the Tigers. “Daingerfield did some good things too. They’ve got some really good athletes. They do a really good job. They got after us. You’ve got to give Daingerfield a lot of credit.”

The Tigers kept the Buckeyes out of the end zone the second quarter; marking the only quarter this season that Gilmer has failed to score at least one touchdown. Daingerfield achieved that by controlling the ball for 8:24 of the quarter and stopping the Buckeyes on two fourth-down plays. “That’s what we were hoping for,” said Daingerfield Head Coach Randall Hugg. “Our kids showed up to play and tried to give you guys a good game.”

The Tigers fell to 1-2 with the loss, despite holding the Buckeyes to their lowest point total in 20 games. The last time Gilmer failed to score at least 35 points in a game was 2005 when the Tigers handed the Buckeyes their only loss in the last five regular seasons with a 26-17 win at Daingerfield.

“It was not one of our best nights; but it was enough to get the job done,” explained Gilmer’s Tuminello.

The Buckeyes struck first in the second half when Johnson got his second touchdown of the night on a 22-yard run with 8:38 remaining in the third quarter. Johnson finished with 166 yards on only 13 carries.

The Tigers finally got on the scoreboard with 8:52 left in the game when quarterback Jared Hill found the end zone from 19-yards out. The two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 28-6 in favor of Gilmer.

The Buckeyes responded with a 10-play, 65-yard drive on their next possession, which ended with a 5-yard scoring strike from Godfrey to Lamar Harris with 5:45 remaining in the game. Godfrey finished with 255 passing yards, completing 18 of 30 passes in the game.

Daingerfield finished the scoring when Hill ran the ball in from 3 yards out with only 3:12 left on the clock. Hill finished with 131 rushing yards on 13 carries, leading the Tigers offense to 310 total yards.

“Whenever you’ve got a great quarterback, a great running back, and a great receiver; you’ve got a lot of offense. So when you hold a team like that to 12 points, you’ve done a lot,” Traylor replied.

Buckeyes’ senior linebacker Brennan Thompson wasn’t happy with limiting the Tigers to their lowest point total of the season. “We came out flat,” stated Thompson. “We really didn’t have the fire that we had last week, so we weren’t really pleased.”

Traylor agreed with Thompson. “We just did not do what we were coached to do, and I’m the coach so it’s my responsibility and I guarantee you that it will be fixed.” The Buckeyes’ open week couldn’t have come at a better time for Traylor. “We need to get back to fundamentals and conditioning. We’re going to get in shape and get fundamentally sound again,” explained Traylor, who was disappointed by his team’s drop-off from last week’s game.

“We graded about 40 players, and maybe three had a better grade than they did against Tatum,” said Traylor, who is focused on a first round playoff showdown with Liberty-Eylau. “We’ve got 63 days to get ready. We have an overinflated opinion of how good of a football team we are right now.”

Following the Buckeyes’ open week, Gilmer will travel to Center on Friday, Sept. 28, to face the Roughriders.

Daingerfield Gilmer
11 First downs 19
10-21-0-0 Passing (c-a-td-int)18-31-2-0
82 Passing yds 255
37-228 Rushes-yds 33-315
310 Total yds 570
28:06 Time of possession 19:54
9-46 Penalties-yds. 6-45
1 Fumbles lost 1
1 2 3 4 T
D’field 0 0 0 12 12
Gilmer 21 0 7 7 35

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
LAMAR HARRIS picks up a first down for the Buckeyes as he prepares to stiff-arm an advancing Daingerfield Tiger in second quarter action here last Friday night. Gilmer went on to win, 35-12, to improve to 3-0 on the season. The fourth-ranked Buckeyes are open this week and will resume play at Center on Friday night, Sept. 28.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JEREMY JACKSON bursts into the clear as he takes advantage of the Buckeye blocking. From left are Kyle Bowden, Daniel Jenkins, David Snow, Chip Elms, Ross Stevens and Cody Lee. Gilmer (3-0) travels to Center for its next pre-district game on Sept. 28.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
HOUSTON TUMINELLO makes a catch over the middle as aTiger closes in. Tuminello scored one of Gilmer’s three first quarter touchdowns. Gilmer went on to win 35-12 over Daingerfield.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
HEADED FOR the goal line, Gilmer’s Justin Johnson charges ahead of a Tiger tackler while Darian Godfrey (10) and Garrett Adkins (73) follow the action. Johnson opened the Buckeye scoring with this run, and Gilmer went on to a 35-12 win over the Tigers.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S BLACK FLAG defenders smother the Tiger runner as Brennan Thompson, Vance Green, Ross Stevens and Jacob Ramsey on the ground shut down the Daingerfield attack.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Buckeyes host nemesis Daingerfield


1930. That’s how far back you have to go to find a Gilmer team that scored as many points in a game as the Buckeyes did in last week’s 71-28 crushing of Tatum. 1930 is also the first year that the Buckeyes met the Daingerfield Tigers on the football field. Gilmer won that first meeting 35-0 in a season that saw the Buckeyes record scores of 76, 86, 88 and 91 points for coach Henry McClelland.

The Buckeyes and Tigers have met 50 more times since 1930, with Daingerfield holding a series lead of 30-21 over Gilmer. The 52nd installment of this great East Texas rivalry will take place Friday night at Buckeye Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Gilmer could make a strong argument as the area’s most dominant team during McClelland’s tenure from 1924-1935. Nobody argues Daingerfield’s title as the most dominant team of the 1980s, as the Tigers went a combined 114-15-4 that decade and took home two state championships.

Gilmer, with a 73-14 record and one state championship, is well on its way to claim the title as ‘team of the decade’ for the start of this century, but Daingerfield continues to be the one nemesis that plagues the Buckeyes. Of the Buckeyes’ 14 losses since 2000, three have come against the Tigers. No other team has beaten Gilmer more than once in that same time span.

“Five-three is not a real good record,” admitted Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, reflecting on his success against the Tigers since coming to Gilmer in 2000. “I can remember them (losses) all so vividly.” Like the 35-14 thumping in his first season, and his 36-23 playoff loss in 2002. Not to mention the 26-17 loss in 2005 that ended the Buckeyes’ school record 21-game winning streak.

Daingerfield comes to Gilmer with a chance to add another thorn to the Buckeyes’ side. A Tigers’ win would end the Buckeyes current 21-game home winning streak. “That’s important to our seniors,” said Traylor. “They would be our second class to graduate without a loss at home.”

To keep the home winning streak intact, the Buckeyes will have to ignore the Tigers’ 28-point loss to Tatum two weeks ago. “Just look at last year and what happened to us,” reminded Traylor. “Tatum beat Daingerfield bad, then we beat Tatum by 24, so people thought we should win by about 40 points. That’s not what happened. Daingerfield gave us all we could handle last year.”

Traylor is referring to the 546 total yards and 42 points his Buckeyes gave up to the Tigers last year in a 62-42 win that felt more like a loss. “We couldn’t stop them. They literally embarrassed us defensively,” conceded Traylor. “Last year we played with no intensity. We just went out there flat.”

“We’ll find out about the maturity level of our team,” continued Traylor. “Are we an intense football team, or are we an emotional football team? If we are emotional; that means we won’t play real well. But if we’re an intense, disciplined, mature football team; we’ll play well. We’ll find out a lot about our team this Friday night.”

One measuring stick will be if the Buckeyes’ defense can continue its early season success. Last year the Buckeyes entered the Daingerfield game allowing an average of 229.5 yards and 17.5 points per game, before giving up 278 yards passing and 268 yards rushing to the Tigers. So far this season the Buckeyes’ defense has given up only 225.5 yards and 14 points per game.

Last year the Tigers controlled the football for 36 of the game’s 48 minutes. “Last year their offense was on the field the whole night,” complained Traylor. “We’ve got to get them off the field.”

Daingerfield head coach Randall Hugg thinks that will be easier to do with this year’s version of Gilmer’s defense. “Defensively what I see is they are much more physical. They’re flying around and playing hard,” said Hugg. “I feel like they’re stronger at this point than they were last year.”

“I thought last year was their best team, even better than their 2004 team,” continued Hugg. “But now I think this year overall they are much stronger on defense and, of course, the offense is rolling, so I think this may be probably the best team that they’ve had in my four years. One of our coaches was joking that we were getting ready to play a Big 12 team, since there are four of them committed to Big Twelve schools.”

Daingerfield has talented athletes as well, Traylor points out. “We’ve got to tackle [Johnie] Hurndon. In my opinion, he’s a (NCAA) Division One running back. They have a Division One wide receiver in Malcolm Walker; he’s a stud. He’s got a really good quarterback, Jared Hill. So we’ve got our work cut out for us just tackling their athletes.”

Last season Hurndon (6-0, 185, 4.5) accounted for 1,398 total yards and 23 touchdowns in the Tigers’ spread offense. In Daingerfield’s 22-17 win over Spring Hill last week, Hurndon rushed for 176 yards, scoring on a 71-yard run. Walker (6-2, 185, 4.5) had three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. Hill (6-1, 205, 4.5) completed 8 of 11 passes for 142 yards.

Blocking for Hurndon and company are returning starter Payton Hall (5-11, 260) and newcomers Jacob Hall (5-10, 200) at center, guards Zavian Gilstrap (5-9, 250) and Zarkevian Williams (5-10, 250) and tackle James Davis (6-2, 270).

“Defensively, they’ve got three really good linebackers,” said Traylor. “Julius Hurndon (5-10, 185), Carl Moore (6-0, 180) and Trea Crowder (5-10, 200).” Those linebackers anchor the Tigers’ new 3-3-5 stack defense, installed to create more turnovers. “That’s one thing last year that we weren’t able to do all year,” said Hugg. “In 10 ball games, we only had two interceptions, and very few [forced] turnovers for the whole season. We’ve already surpassed that on defense this year than we had in 10 ball games last year.”

Traylor said that the Buckeyes will be ready for any defense that the Tigers come out in. “We always prepare for everything. People change so much on us,” stated Traylor, who expects Daingerfield to bring more defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. “I’m sure, after watching Tatum, they’re going to commit to stopping our running game. So our passing game has got to keep getting better.”

No matter what defense the Tigers employ, Hugg expects a close game. “If you look back at all of our games with Gilmer; we’ve always had good games with them. Our kids are going to play hard, and it’s going to be a battle. It should be a fun game to watch if you’re a fan.”

Traylor agrees, and hopes that Buckeye Stadium will provide his team a spark. “Our kids really like to play at home. It’s just a great environment. The kids love watching that stands fill up; they sit in that weight room and just watch everybody get here. I think they’ll be real excited to play Daingerfield at home.”


Offense - Rondarious Darden
Defense - Aaron Borens

Mirror Photos / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON (top photo) of the Buckeyes sets up a touchdown with this bruising run against Tatum. LAMAR HARRIS (above photo) takes a pass from Darian Godfrey as Tatum’s Chris Johnson tries to hang on during second quarter action last Thursday night in Tyler. The 71-28 win over the Eagles moved the Buckeyes up to a No. 4 state ranking in Class 3A, according to the widely-followed AP poll. Gilmer returns home to face the Daingerfield Tigers Friday night, Sept. 14, at Buckeye Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.

Special Spotlight Interview: Gilmer Head Coach Jeff Traylor

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Buckeyes score most points since 1930 in 71-28 win over Tatum


With an offensive performance not seen since 1930, and a defensive domination that made the final score deceptive, the Gilmer Buckeyes dismantled the Tatum Eagles 71-28 Thursday night in the opening game of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic in Tyler.

Before an estimated crowd of 9,000 fans at Rose Stadium, the Buckeyes unleashed a scoring fury last witnessed by Buckeye fans 77 years ago when Gilmer downed Atlanta 88-0. Fueled by senior running back Justin Johnson’s 173 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and sophomore quarterback Darian Godfrey’s 225 yards and four touchdowns passing, along with two rushing touchdowns; the Buckeyes’ offense rolled up 516 total yards.

Gilmer’s Black Flag Defense harassed the Eagles all night, forcing three Tatum turnovers and dropping the Eagles for 12 tackles for losses and four sacks. Vaunted Eagle running back Bryce Beall was limited to only 23 yards rushing on 10 carries. The rest of the Eagles’ backs didn’t fare any better against the Buckeyes, gaining a total of 109 yards on 42 carries for the game.

“When you play great defense and you run the football, you’ve always got a chance,” understated Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who ran his record against the Eagles to 5-1. “Our defense and our offensive line was totally the difference,” Traylor said.

The Buckeyes’ massive front line opened the holes for six rushing touchdowns and an average of 9.2 yards per play, while the defense held Tatum to just 21 second quarter points before the Eagles scored their final touchdown with only four seconds remaining in the game.

That final score ended a Gilmer run of 47 unanswered points that started after Tatum scored with 3:21 to play in the second quarter, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 27-21. “I thought early in the game we played really hard until we got tired,” stated a subdued Tatum head coach Andy Evans after the game. “We knew that depth was going to be an issue.”

Tatum, the 2nd-ranked team in Class 2A, and Gilmer, the 5th-ranked team in Class 3A, looked to be evenly matched for most of the first half. The Buckeyes got on the scoreboard first when Johnson ran in from 10 yards out for a 6-0 lead with 6:11 to play in the first quarter. That scoring drive covered only 18 yards, thanks to the Buckeyes’ defensive rush that forced a 9-yard punt from Tatum’s goal line.

Gilmer scored again two minutes later when Godfrey hit a streaking Devane Clark at the Gilmer 45-yard line, and then watched Clark shed a defender and race the remaining 55 yards for the touchdown. Johnson converted the 2-point play with a 3-yard run to make the score 14-0 with 4:10 left in the first quarter.

The Buckeyes’ defense came up big on the Eagles next possession when senior Dustin Jones stopped the Tatum drive with an interception at Gilmer’s 10-yard line with 10 seconds to play in the first quarter. Gilmer returned the favor six plays later when Zach Jones took a reverse handoff and attempted to throw the ball with two Tatum defenders in his face to a wide-open Godfrey. Instead the errant pass was picked off by the Eagles Calvin Stoker.

“I tried a little trick play that was stupid on my part,” explained Traylor. “They stunted right into it. My quarterback was wide open, but Zach just couldn’t get it off. But that’s just the way I coach. My kids like it. It’s fun when it works and it’s not fun when it doesn’t.” The Eagles took advantage of the Gilmer mistake with a 75-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard Cashas Pollard touchdown pass to D.J. Whiting on 4th-and-11 to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 14-7 with 9:52 remaining in the second quarter.

The Buckeyes and Eagles traded punts on the next two possessions, before Gilmer took control of the football at their own 20-yard line with 5:59 to play in the half. Johnson picked up most of the yards on an impressive 48-yard run, before Godfrey connected with Clark for a touchdown two plays later from 18 yards out, giving the Buckeyes a 21-7 lead with 4:27 to go in the half.

After taking possession at their own 20-yard line, Tatum needed only one play to score. Pollard found Danny Bradley, who took a short pass, broke a Buckeyes’ tackle and raced 80 yards for the touchdown, to make the score 21-14 with 4:09 left in the half.

The Buckeyes scored 29 seconds later when Johnson took an inside handoff at the 14-yard line and blasted through two eagle defenders into the end zone for a 27-14 Gilmer lead with 3:40 until halftime.

Not to be outdone, Tatum scored 19 seconds later when Pollard hit Whiting from 11 yards out, making the score 27-21 with just 3:21 remaining in the first half.

The Eagles tried a trick of their own on the kickoff trying to execute an onside kick, but Gilmer’s Lamar Harris picked up the loose football and returned it to Tatum’s 42-yard line. The Buckeyes handed the ball to Johnston five straight plays, with Johnson scoring his third touchdown of the half from four yards out while carrying three Eagles into the end zone. “We were just riding the Bus,” summed up Traylor, referring to Johnson’s nickname. Gilmer’s 2-point conversion was good on a pass from Godfrey to Ross Stevens for a 35-21 lead with less than two minutes to play in the half.

Stevens then made a big play on defense, intercepting a Pollard pass at the Tatum 40-yard line and returning it to the Eagles’ 13-yard line. Godfrey carried the football into the end zone just three plays later, giving the Buckeyes a commanding 43-21 lead at the half.

“It was a wild one the first half,” expressed Traylor. “It was everything we all thought it would be, it was just back and forth.” The Buckeyes’ final 16 points to end the half were just the first of 44 consecutive points that Gilmer would score.

The Buckeyes picked right up in the second half when Clark collected an Eagles’ fumble at the Buckeyes’ 45-yard line. Godfrey found Harris on a 37-yard pick-up before handing the ball off to Johnson the next two snaps. Then, he took it in himself from nine yards out, increasing the score to 50-21 just 1:12 into the second half.

Tatum’s next possession ended with a bobbled punt snap swarmed by the Gilmer defense, who turned the ball over to the offense at the Eagles’ 24-yard line. Backup running back Jeremy Jackson scored four plays later from nine yards out giving Gilmer a 57-21 lead with 7:52 left in the third quarter, as Tatum fans exited the stadium en masse.

After another Eagle punt, the Buckeyes needed just two plays to put another touchdown on the score board. With Gilmer at their own 38-yard line, Godfrey dropped the snap from center, reached down and picked the ball up and then fired a bullet down field for Houston Tuminello, who caught it at the 30-yard line over a falling defender, and took it in for the touchdown with 4:12 still to play in the third quarter, making the score 64-21.

The Buckeyes’ defense got the ball back for the offense at the Tatum 43-yard line following another rushed punt attempt, but Buckeyes’ backup quarterback Hunter Harrison turned the football back over to Tatum a few plays later. The Eagles returned the ball to Gilmer on a punt, and this time Harrison and Kedon Franklin led the offense down the field, with Harrison scoring his first varsity touchdown from a yard out ending the Buckeyes’ scoring barrage with 6:31 left to play.

Evans was impressed with the Buckeyes’ performance against his 2-time defending state champions. “They’re very polished. They’re well coached like always,” praised Evans. “I think their offensive line is the best offensive line that I’ve ever coached against.”

After the game, Traylor’s thoughts had already turned to the Buckeyes’ next opponent. “Daingerfield is in a perfect position because it is going to be hard for us to duplicate this effort,” worried Traylor. But leave it to the Buckeyes’ sophomore quarterback who had just made his second career start to assure his coach that the team is as focused as he is. “We still know that we’ve got Liberty-Eylau down the road, so we’ll keep practicing and get ready for them,” promised Godfrey.

Scoring Summary
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Gilmer 14 29 21 7 71
Tatum 0 21 0 0 7 28

Game Statistics
Gilmer Tatum
Passing-Comp/Att/TD/Int 9-16-4-1 9-18-2-2
Passing-Yards 225 215
Rushes-Yards 40-291 42-109
Total Yards 516 324
First Downs 23 13
Time of Possession 20:37 27:23
Fumbles Lost 1 1
Penalties-Yards 6-55 4-32

Mirror Photo / M.L. Kirby
GILMER’S JUSTIN JOHNSON busts his way bareheaded during the Gilmer-Tatum game Thursday following the block of Garrett Adkins as Ross Stevens watches. Johnson finished the first half with 169 yards rushing, 3 TDs and a 2-point conversion. Gilmer led Tatum 43-21 at the half and went on to win 71-28 in the opener of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic.

Mirror Photos / M.L. Kirby
IN DESCENDING ORDER, Darian Godfrey scores, Brennan Thompson makes a tackle and Dustin Jones returns an interception.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Buckeyes battle Tatum in Tyler


In what has become an almost annual tradition, the Gilmer Buckeyes and Tatum Eagles will face off in a game featuring two of the best teams in the state Thursday night at Tyler’s Trinity Mother Frances’ Earl Campbell Field at Rose Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
Both teams are state-ranked. Both teams feature top college recruits. Both teams have won recent state titles. Gilmer’s title came in 2004, while Tatum won a 3A title in 2005, then followed with a 2A title in 2006.
For a rivalry that didn’t get started until 1986, the Buckeyes and Eagles have provided some of the best football in East Texas over the last 21 years. Only 39 points separate the two teams over the 17-game life of the series. That’s an average of only 2.3 points per game. The Buckeyes hold an 11-6 all-time advantage in the series, with Gilmer winning the past four games in a row.
That 4-game winning streak belongs to Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who lost to the Eagles in 2000; his first season as the Buckeyes’ boss. Since that 14-6 loss, Traylor’s teams have outscored Tatum by an average of 47-27. The last two wins have come against Eagles’ coach Andy Evans, who sports an impressive 41-4 record since coming to Tatum in 2004.
The last time these two teams met, it was arguably the biggest regular season game in the history of both programs. The Buckeyes were number one in Class 3A. The Eagles were number one in Class 2A. 7,500 fans found their way into Buckeye Stadium to see G.J. Kinne and Curtis Brown of Gilmer, now at the University of Texas, take on Lennon Creer and Darnius Moore of Tatum, now at the University of Tennessee.
Gilmer took advantage of six Eagles’ turnovers en route to a convincing 45-21 win. Tatum went on to win their second straight state championship, while the Buckeyes lost in the first round of the playoffs to eventual state champion Liberty-Eylau.
There may not be as much hype this year, but Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor knows this is a big game. “It’s always a great game, so it will be a great one this Thursday,” promised Traylor. “They’re a 2-time defending state champion; you don’t get to see teams do that very often.”
Both teams have replaced key components to last year’s success. Tatum returns just four offensive and five defensive starters from last year’s team, while Gilmer returns eight starters on offense, but only two starters on defense.
Despite the Buckeyes’ apparent advantage of returning offensive starters, Traylor warns that the Eagles still have the advantage. “The real difference this year is Cashas Pollard. He’s a 2-time state championship quarterback,” said Traylor. “There’s nothing that he hasn’t seen. Think of all the big games he’s been in.”
Pollard will be making his 32nd consecutive start for the Eagles, while sophomore Darian Godfrey will make just his 2nd start for the Buckeyes.
Traylor also holds the Eagles’ defense in high regards due to the presence of returning 1st team all-state linebacker Bryce Beall. Traylor called him, “The best linebacker we’ve ever played against.” Beall is also a solid running back, having rushed for 700 yards and 13 touchdowns on only 76 carries last season.
“Beall and Cashas Pollard are the heart and soul of that team,” stated Traylor, who is concerned about Tatum’s speed. “I’m worried about their team speed versus our team speed,” said Traylor. “They’ve got a lot of really fast kids, and I’m worried about their total team speed.”
The Eagles have several football players that have been a part of Tatum’s consecutive state championships in track. According to Traylor, the Buckeyes will counter Tatum’s speed advantage with, “Team defense. They all have to be disciplined to be in their area, and we’ve got to hope two or three can get them down. We don’t have many that can solo [tackle] them,” Traylor stated. “The first guy’s got to hold on, and the rest of them have to get there quick.”
Traylor does believe his Buckeyes have one advantage over the Eagles. “Our depth will play a factor. We’ve got good depth,” said Traylor. “I think it will be the key to the game.”
Tatum is coming off a 48-20 win over Daingerfield in the season opener. Beall rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles’ racked up 389 total yards, while holding the Tigers to just 130 yards of total offense.
Traylor cautioned the Buckeyes’ faithful with the same warning he gave last week. “We’re not ready to play Tatum. I just hope that we’re more ready than they are.”
Scout Team
Players of the Week
Offense: Josh Gordon, Tyrone Fort
Defense: Tevin Godfrey, Adam Hart

Clash Of The Titans

Area powers Gilmer, Tatum meet

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
LOOKING FOR an opening, Gilmer’s Darian “Stump” Godfrey eyes Richwood’s Talvin Paul as he scrambles for yardage in the third quarter. The Buckeyes recorded their 21st straight home win.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S JEREMY JACKSON cuts around left end as the fleet-footed running back beats Richwood’s Justin Young on the angle for a fourth quarter first down. Jackson scored two second half touchdowns in last week’s 39-0 win.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON breaks away from Richwood’s Aaron Borens as “Bus 1” picks up speed on his run for the Buckeyes’ second touchdown. Gilmer won the interstate duel, 39-0.

Men In Black

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
MEN IN BLACK smother Greg Johnson, the Rams’ leading rusher, with Buckeye defenders, from left, Lamar Harris, Ross Stevens, Damian Redditt, Dakota Hagler, Kendrick Starling, Dustin Jones and David Smith closing in on the hapless runner during Gilmer’s win over Richwood. The state-ranked Buckeyes will travel to Tyler tomorrow night to participate in the opening game of the 2007 Trinity Mother Frances East Texas Football Classic at TMF Rose Stadium in Tyler. Kickoff in the game against the Tatum Eagles is set for 8 p.m. Listen live at

Buckeyes dominate Louisiana team in season opener, 39-0

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
DISAPPEARING IN a sea of black, Richwood’s Greg Hudson goes down surrounded by, from left, Zach Jones, Josh Thompson, Paul Chesnut, David Snow, Justin Johnson, Brennan Thompson and Ross Stevens. The Buckeyes shut out the visiting Rams. 39-0. to win their season opener here.


The Gilmer Buckeyes used an oppressive defense and an impressive rushing attack to win the season opener 39-0 over the Richwood (La.) Rams Friday night at Buckeye Stadium. It was an emotional victory for the Buckeyes after losing former teammate Josh Nelson to cancer the day before.
“They’re emotionally tired, but they focused and they made Josh proud,” said Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, whose record in season openers improved to 7-1. “There wasn’t a ‘win one for the Gipper’ speech; there was no ‘win one for Josh’. We just wanted to play the way Josh played, and that’s what we did.”
With nine new starters, Gilmer’s Black Flag Defense forced two Ram turnovers and limited last year’s Louisiana quarterfinalists to only 198 total yards, in the unit’s first shutout since the 2005 season.
“That gave our defense a really great boost,” exclaimed senior linebacker Justin Johnson. “We’ve got some young kids on defense that the coaches were worried about and the community was worried about, and I think we made a statement tonight with a shutout of a great, athletic team. So, I hope that our defense can just build off of that.”
Johnson also helped the offense make their own statement, rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown on only 10 carries, as the Buckeyes rolled up 304 yards on the ground. Johnson also contributed another 30 yards and a touchdown on two catches for a total of 159 yards and two scores, almost all in the first half.
The Oklahoma recruit was quick to defer all praise to his teammates. “I give all the credit to them. If it wasn’t for them blocking, and [quarterback Darian Godfrey] with the fakes, I wouldn’t be able to do that.”
It was Godfrey and Johnson who got things going for the Buckeyes on their first possession, as Godfrey took the first snap 12 yards, before handing the ball off to Johnson for a 29-yard gain. On the next play, Godfrey threw a screen pass to Johnson, who followed three blockers untouched into the end zone from 25 yards out. Johnson would follow that with a 2-point conversion run, giving Gilmer a 8-0 lead only 58 seconds into the game.
“I was very pleased with [Godfrey],” Johnson said. “He’s just a sophomore, and he played a great game.” Godfrey returned the praise. “It’s good to have [Justin Johnson] back there running for you; it takes a lot of pressure off of me; and it’s nice to have David [Snow] and them up front blocking for you,” said Godfrey, who got his first varsity start at quarterback.
The two teams would trade punts on the next four possessions, with Richwood’s Richard Wilson returning a Jake Ashley punt to the Buckeyes’ 28-yard line with 1:52 left in the first quarter.
Four plays later, the Black Flag Defense set the tone for the night, stopping the Rams on a 4th-and-5 play at their own 24-yard line. “That was huge. We were still in a war right there,” stated Traylor. “If they had got one in right there; who knows what would have happened?”
Buoyed by the defensive stop, the Gilmer offense scored four plays later when Johnson took a handoff and busted through a tackle in the backfield, then broke to the right sideline and ran through two more tacklers, before stopping 61 yards later with his second touchdown of the game. Another 2-point conversion on a pass from Braylon Webb to Ross Stevens gave the Buckeyes a 16-0 lead with 11:05 to play in the half.
The Rams’ next possession ended with an interception by Buckeyes’ sophomore Paul Chesnut, who returned the pick to the Gilmer 24-yard line. The Buckeyes’ offense then proceeded on an 11-play drive that took 5:15 off the clock before scoring on a 28-yard field goal by Dustin Jones to give Gilmer a 19-0 lead at halftime.
Traylor said that Buckeyes’ fans should expect to see more time-consuming drives this season. “It’s just going to take us longer. It’s going to be more of a methodical march,” said Traylor, after his team ended the game with more time-of-possession than the Rams. “It helps the defensive stats; it keeps them on the bench a little longer, and makes everybody think we’re playing better defense.”
Richwood received the second half kickoff, but the Buckeyes’ defense forced the Rams to punt just six plays later. Gilmer took over at their own 24-yard line, and went on a 10-play drive capped off by a beautiful 22-yard pass from Godfrey to Devane Clark for a touchdown. Jones’ extra-point kick was good, giving the Buckeyes a 26-0 lead with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter.
The Rams’ managed to get down to Gilmer’s 35-yard line on their next drive before the Buckeyes’ Zach Jones picked off a Corey Treadway pass, giving it to the Buckeyes’ offense at their own 22-yard line.
With Johnson resting on the bench, and backup running back Josh Thompson in the training room nursing an injury from the previous series, Traylor was forced to call on two sophomore running backs to carry the load the rest of the way.
“We didn’t really plan on Jeremy and Kedon playing a lot these first two games,” admitted Traylor. “We were hoping to bring them along after these two, but when Josh got hurt Kedon and Jeremy had to play, and they did a great job.”
Franklin turned a short screen pass into a 31-yard gain, and followed that up with an 18-yard run to set up Jackson’s 6-yard touchdown run with 9:34 to play in the game. The extra-point attempt by Jones was missed, so the Buckeyes led 32-0.
After a Rams’ three and out possession, the Buckeyes started their final drive on their own 45-yard line, before two straight penalties pushed them back to the 35-yard line. Jackson got most of the yardage needed with three straight runs for a total of 18 yards. On 4th and 2, sophomore back-up quarterback Braylon Webb busted through for a 39-yard gain down to the Rams’ 8-yard line. Following an offensive penalty, Jackson finished the drive with a 14-yard touchdown run with 3:15 remaining in the game. Adan Olivaris kicked the extra point, making the final score 39-0.
“It was a solid performance. I wouldn’t call it great,” accessed Traylor. “We ran the ball well. Passing, there are some areas we need to work on. But for a first game, we were okay.” Traylor was especially happy with his veteran offensive line. “I was very pleased with our offensive line, and how we ran the ball.”
Defensively, Traylor heaped praise on his young players singling out David Smith, Ross Stevens, Lamar Harris, Devane Clark, Zach Jones and Paul Chesnut. We just played hard; we just kept competing. Every single person that played defense had a tackle except for one kid. We didn’t have anybody with a lot of tackles, but we had a lot of people that had some tackles.”
Traylor finished his analysis by saying, “You can tell we are not what we have been. We are not unbelievable. You can just tell we are good; and good teams have got to do smart things. So we’ve got to be very smart this year, and we could have a very good team.”
Scoring Summary
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Gilmer 8 11 7 13 39
Richwood 0 0 0 0 0
Game Statistics
Gilmer Richwood
13-22-2-0 8-23-0-2
153 81
33-304 29-117
Total Yards
457 198
First Downs
20 10
Time of Possession
24:54 23:06
Fumbles Lost
0 0
8-55 12-95