Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gilmer 52, Mineola 0

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes mash Mineola, 52-0

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Buckeyes Erupt In 2nd Half

Friday, October 26, 2007

Buckeyes Homecoming features upstart Mineola


Most schools try to schedule one of the weakest teams on their schedule for homecoming. For the last 17 seasons Mineola has been the guest at many homecomings across East Texas. Gilmer hosts the Yellow Jackets Friday night in their homecoming at Buckeye Stadium, but this is not the same old Mineola team.

This year the Yellow Jackets are 5-2 and undefeated (2-0) in district 15-3A play. The last time Mineola had a winning season was 1989 when the Jackets went 6-5. Since then, the Jackets won a total of 43 games. When Mineola head coach Steve Wells was named the Yellow Jacket’s coach before the 2006 season, he brought a winning tradition with him from Hooks, where his resume contained a win against Gilmer in 2000.

“Steve Wells is a great coach,” praised Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor. “He’s done a wonderful job. He just does a good job of building a program. He already has made Mineola a lot better; and he’ll continue to make them better.”

After a 3-7 season in his first year, including a 62-12 loss to the Buckeyes, Wells has the Yellow Jackets on pace for their best season since 1989. Despite that success, Wells knows his place in the district hierarchy. “We’re not at the level of Gilmer yet,” admitted Wells. “Hopefully we’ll be there in five or six years. We’re just trying to make that first stride of having a winning season and getting into the playoffs.”

Wells also harbors no illusions about the match up against the Buckeyes. “We could play a perfect game and they could have a bad game and they could still beat us by forty points,” said Wells. “I think it might be the biggest upset in the history of football if Mineola beat Gilmer.”

“I’ve watched a lot of film in my twenty years,” continued Wells. “I’m not going to sit here and say that I think that we can honestly play with Gilmer, because we can’t. I do know that anything can happen on any given Friday night.”

That small possibility provides inspiration for Wells and the Jackets. “I told the kids that we have nothing to lose. You give me one-hundred and ten percent out on the field and things will take care of themselves. The main thing that I want to see is that we’re going to play four quarters.”

Traylor would love to see the game competitive into the fourth quarter, as the Buckeyes’ starters rarely see action in the final period due to an average score of 53-12 in seven games this season. “We had three great quarters [against White Oak] and we hope in the next couple of weeks we can get four good ones.”

Traylor hopes that his team’s lack of competition in the regular season doesn’t derail their state championship goal, while Wells just dreams of making it to the playoffs. “Year in and year out they’ve got a legitimate shot to win a state championship,” admired Wells. “We’ve got to win one more to reach our goal to be in the playoffs this year. We’d love to win all three of them, but we just want to win one of them and get in and get a taste of the playoffs.”

Mineola’s playoff hopes rest on the running of Cory Jones, who needs only 60 yards to become the Yellow Jackets’ single season rushing leader. The senior running back has 1,384 yards, and averages 30 carries a game. “He’s probably one of the better tailbacks we’ve played against,” Traylor said.

“He’s a good back,” agreed Wells. “He doesn’t have the break-away speed to take it all the way, but he’s a good back with good hips and good vision.”

Traylor said that Jones runs behind a solid front. “Their offensive line is good, especially the center Angel Ybarra. And James Griffin; he’s a big, good looking left tackle. The right tackle Brandon Martin is good, and their tight end Forrest Clark is good.”

Mineola’s biggest improvement is on defense, where the Yellow Jackets have decreased their points against average from 34 points per game last season to 18 points per game this year. “They’ve got two good sophomore linebackers in Stephen Hughes and Carlos Rivera, and their strong safety Jason Jones is good,” stated Traylor.

The Yellow Jackets will rely on their improved defense to try to slow down the Buckeyes who average 525 total yards per game. Gilmer running back Justin Johnson needs 118 rushing yards to top the 1,000 yard mark for the second season in a row. That’s especially impressive considering the senior back averages less than 11 carries per game.

“He can run over you or around you, either one,” marveled Wells, who warned against focusing solely on Johnson. “They’ve just got so many weapons that when you try to take away one dimension of their offense, they’re going to hurt you with another dimension of it.”

Wells points to sophomore quarterback Darian Godfrey as a case in point. “Godfrey at quarterback adds another dimension to the Gilmer offense. He was 16 of 17 last week and then he can pull it down and go yard on you running the ball.”

Wells is excited about the challenge of playing the Buckeyes. “As a coach I like the opportunity of playing against quality people because I think it’s going to end up helping your team become a better team.”

Traylor is just happy to be in front of the hometown crowd.

“I expect us to play well because we’re at home and Mineola is 5-2 and they’re undefeated in district, so I hope that gets our juices flowing,” said Traylor. “We like playing at home, so I’m excited. My seniors only have two more home games left. I told them it was going to go by fast; I don’t know if they realize how fast it’s going.”

Did you know?

This will be the 48th meeting between the two teams. Gilmer won the first game 18-0 in 1914, and has a 31-14-2 record in the series. The Buckeyes have won 12 straight games against the Yellow Jackets with Mineola’s last win coming in 1962.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
DEVANE CLARK clears the corner using the screening of Garrett Adkins (73) as he gains to the Roughnecks 35 Friday. Homecoming Friday night (Oct. 26) pits the Buckeyes against Mineola.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S JUSTIN Johnson follows the block of his quarterback, Darian Godfey, as he gains 21 yards to set up Godfrey’s touchdown pass to Paul Chesnut in Gilmer’s 63-7 win over White Oak there during the Yamboree. The Buckeyes welcome MIneola to town Friday night for Homecoming.

Buckeyes blow past Roughnecks, 63-7


The Gilmer Buckeyes found inspiration from an unlikely source and used that motivation to dominate the White Oak Roughnecks 63-7 in a district 15-3A game Friday night at Roughneck Stadium, keeping their perfect season alive at 7-0.

Buckeyes’ running back Justin Johnson led the way with 189 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries. Johnson also provided the source of inspiration. “I got motivated for this game when our girls played them in volleyball and their football team was there taunting us,” said Johnson. “I made up my mind then to play this game for them.”

That was Oct. 2 when White Oak beat the Lady Buckeyes’ volleyball team in straight sets on Gilmer’s home court. Johnson thought it was only fair to return the favor on the Roughnecks’ home field.

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor was happy for the motivational help against a team they were favored to beat by 40 points. “Whatever it takes to get them going,” chuckled Traylor. “If it takes a girl’s volleyball game to get them going, more power to it.”

Whatever their motivation, the Buckeyes took no mercy on the Roughnecks (1-6, 0-2), scoring touchdowns on their first nine possessions, before turning the ball over on downs their final possession after a 10th touchdown was called back due to a questionable penalty call.

Johnson started the scoring barrage with an 18-yard touchdown run with 7:49 to play in the opening quarter. Jake Ashley’s extra point attempt was wide, leaving the score 6-0.

Following David Smith’s sack and fumble recovery of Roughnecks’ quarterback Austin Tubbs on 4th-and- 3, Gilmer’s offense needed only three plays to score, capping a 46-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Darian Godfrey to Paul Chesnut. The Buckeyes faked the extra point kick, scoring two points on Braylon Webb’s pass to Brett Frase for a 14-0 lead with 2:47 remaining in the first quarter.

Gilmer’s 14-point first quarter lead was the smallest in the last five games for the Buckeyes, but thanks to two more Roughneck turnovers, Gilmer scored 21 points in a 3:25 stretch of the second quarter to take a commanding lead. The first of those scores came with 10:44 left in the first half on a Jeremy Jackson 8-yard run. Ashley kicked the first of two straight extra points for a 21-0 lead.

On White Oak’s next play the Buckeyes’ Vance Green recovered a Roughnecks’ lateral at the White Oak 25-yard line. Three plays later, Godfrey lofted a pass into the end zone that appeared to be overthrown, but Houston Tuminello made an unbelievable catch; stretching his body out and keeping his feet in bounds for a 6-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 9:59 to go in the half.

The catch didn’t surprise Traylor. “He does it every day in practice. When you do it in practice, you’re going to do it in the game; and he does it every day,” marveled Traylor. Three plays later, the Buckeyes’ Black Flag Defense collected the third Roughneck turnover when Ross Stevens intercepted a tipped pass at the White Oak 48-yard line and returned it to the Roughnecks’ 25-yard line.

After a 5-yard penalty and a 2-yard loss on the first two snaps, Godfrey thrilled the Yamboree crowd on the third play, firing a 32-yard touchdown strike to Brennan Thompson who carried a couple of Roughneck defenders into the end zone. Adan Olivaris relieved Ashley to kick the first of his five straight extra points for a 35-0 lead with 7:19 remaining in the half.

Following a three-and-out possession by White Oak, the Buckeyes took over at the Roughnecks’ 34-yard line. Johnson took the hand-off from Godfrey and raced 66 yards up the right sideline on the first play, giving Gilmer a 42-0 lead with 4:17 to play in the half.

The Roughnecks’ offense finally came to life on their next possession with the help of sophomore running back Jackson McCurdy and a manipulative clock operator. McCurdy did his part by rushing for 54 yards on 8 carries. White Oak’s clock operator contributed by not running the clock during one play, giving the Roughnecks time to score on the last play of the half when McCurdy ran it in from a yard out. The clock operator made an error by leaving one second on the clock, meaning White Oak would have to kickoff to the Buckeyes, but after a long conference, the game officials announced that the half had indeed ended, sparing the Roughnecks from kicking to the angry Buckeyes.

“We were disappointed at halftime because of that drive,” admitted Johnson who contributed on defense with 5 tackles from his linebacker position.

Dakota Hagler, praised by Traylor for his 8 tackles, said the last second score by White Oak focused the Buckeyes’ defense, which had given up only 22 total yards before the Roughnecks’ touchdown drive. “The adversity was good for the team. We handled the adversity well when they scored. We stepped it up in the second half,” said the junior lineman. Gilmer wasted little time to start the second half, scoring in three plays when Godfrey connected with Lamar Harris from 19-yards out increasing the Buckeyes’ lead to 49-7 with 9:57 left in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes’ defense stifled the Roughnecks on their first possession, allowing only 14 yards before a punt gave the football back to Gilmer at their own 29-yard line.

Nine plays later, Godfrey wowed the Buckeyes’ faithful by avoiding a certain sack and firing an 11-yard touchdown strike to Chesnut, who was standing uncovered in the end zone for a 56-7 advantage with 3:20 to play in the third quarter.

The Roughnecks’ next drive ended with 18 yards in losses on 3 plays. Following the punt, Gilmer’s offense took over at the 50-yard line. 57 seconds later the Buckeyes’ Jackson scored his second touchdown of the game from 18 yards out to make the score 63-7.

The Buckeyes’ reserves came out to start the fourth quarter and held the Roughnecks to only 5 yards on their next possession, before taking over the football at the Gilmer 20-yard line following White Oak’s 6th punt of the game.

The Buckeyes then proceeded on a 6:14 drive that apparently resulted in a touchdown on a Jackson 19-yard run, but the Buckeyes were flagged for a phantom holding penalty on the play and later turned the ball over on downs at the White Oak 10-yard line.

After two short gains by White Oak’s McCurdy, the running back took a handoff up the middle with time running out on the game clock and appeared to be heading for the end zone before Gilmer’s Ben Griffith saved the touchdown with a diving tackle from behind at the Buckeyes’ 24-yard line to end the game.

“That was a great effort by Ben Griffith,” Traylor said. “I was proud of him running that kid down. It keeps everybody in a good mood. If he had scored we would all be demoralized. It was a good, upbeat way to end the game.”

Traylor said the final play was indicative of how the Roughnecks played the entire game. “You’ve got to give White Oak credit; they played hard. They played four full quarters, and they competed hard. The score might not look like it, but their kids played hard.”

Special Teams Player of the Week- Brett Frase
Bounty Hunters of the Week - Brett Frase & Mikey Wilson
Hector’s Wrecker - Michael Boddie
Black Attack - Arsenio Elder


Gilmer White Oak

25 First downs 9
17-20-5-0 Passing (c-a-td-int) 2-7-0-1
199 Passing yds 11
28-372 Rushes-yds 40-155
571 Total yds 166
18:49 Time of possession 29:11
7-50 Penalties-yds. 7-60
0 Fumbles lost 2

1 2 3 4 T
Gilmer 14 28 21 0 63
White Oak 0 7 0 0 7

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
DARIAN GODFREY (10) and PAUL CHESNUT celebrate their collaboration on a touchdown pass and catch in the first quarter of Gilmer’s 63-7 victory over White Oak last Friday night.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
ROSS STEVENS and BRENNAN THOMPSON of the Buckeyes pull down the White Oak running back at midfield Friday. WO put together one scoring drive in the second period, but otherwise the Buckeyes thwarted the Roughnecks efforts in a 63-7 District 15-3A win last Friday night on the road. Gilmer (7-0; 2-0) is ranked No. 4 in Class 3A. The team’s relentless march toward a seventh consecutive district championship continues Friday night at Buckeye Stadium against Mineola in Gilmer’s Homecoming game.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gilmer 63, White Oak 7

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Gilmer Makes Easy Work Of White Oak

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes bounce Roughnecks, 63-7

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Buckeyes travel to White Oak during Yamboree


The East Texas Yamboree used to be a time of great concern for Gilmer Buckeyes’ coaches who worried about the seductive lure of greasy food, soda pop, and late night fun for the players enjoying two days away from school.

“Traditionally that was when you wanted to play Gilmer,” admitted White Oak head coach Tracy Blankenship, who graduated from White Oak in 1981. “But I think that’s the old Gilmer; that’s not been the case the last several years.”

The last several years just happens to coincide with Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor’s return to his alma matter in 2000. Traylor knows all about playing football during the Yamboree, having played in six Yamboree week games before graduating from Gilmer in 1986.

After losing to a superior 12-1 Daingerfield team his first season as Buckeyes’ head coach, Traylor’s teams have won six straight Yamboree games. “Our kids really handle the Yamboree well,” said Traylor. “I think because I’m from here, I don’t overreact.”

“I know I’m going to have some kids miss a little bit showing their hogs, and I hope they don’t eat but eight corn dogs and only six cotton candies and stay on their feet all night before the game,” joked Traylor.

The 6-0 Buckeyes will put that 6-game Yamboree winning streak, along with a 30-game district winning streak, and 20-game regular season winning streak on the line when they travel to Roughneck Stadium Friday night to face the 1-5 Roughnecks in a District 15-3A contest. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

It will be Gilmer’s first trip to White Oak since a 16-8 loss in 1999, and Traylor’s first visit as the Buckeyes’ head coach. “The last time I was there was 1985 playing for coach [Ron] Dupree,” said Traylor, recalling the Buckeyes’ 54-0 victory his senior season.

That 54-point margin was the largest in the two team’s all-time series until the Buckeyes’ 56-point margin of victory in last year’s 63-7 win in Gilmer. Blankenship admits that this year’s result could be similar. “We’ve not played anybody that compares with Gilmer, but we have played a tough pre-district schedule,” said the fifth-year head coach.

“We have to use this game as an opportunity to get better,” stated Blankenship, who has an 18-30 record at White Oak. That’s the same goal Traylor has for this game after watching the clock run almost non-stop in the second half of the Buckeyes’ last three games. “I have a lot of respect for White Oak,” stressed Traylor. “If we had the opportunity to run the clock, I would be shocked if White Oak would do that. I know their kids will play hard Friday. I don’t think they will roll over. I have a lot of respect for Coach Blankenship and their school pride.”

Blankenship agreed with Traylor’s analysis. “They put 63 on us last year and the clock never ran in a way that it wasn’t supposed to,” said the Roughneck head coach. “Whenever everybody picks against you; you don’t have a lot to lose so you can relax and let your hair down and go play.”

Blankenship also looks forward to the throng of Buckeyes’ fans expected to invade Roughneck Stadium. “It will be exciting because it will pack the house. It’s always more exciting when the stands are full. Gilmer brings a lot of people and a big band, and while that makes some concerns with our cadence for our quarterback-center exchange, it sure does make for more of an exciting atmosphere.”

Traylor promises Gilmer fans a game against “a typical White Oak team. They’re scrappy, they’re disciplined, they play hard.”

White Oak’s offense is lead by sophomore quarterback Austin Tubbs, who has passed for 680 yards and 6 touchdowns this season after starting all 10 games for the Roughnecks as a freshman. Joining Tubbs in the backfield are fellow sophomores Jackson McCurdy at fullback and Junior Hamilton at tailback. McCurdy leads the ground attack with 325 rushing yards and three touchdowns. McCurdy is also the Necks’ leading receiver with 17 receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown.

The Roughnecks’ offensive line is led by seniors Graham Shuttlesworth, John Lennon and Spencer Morgan. “Their offensive line is a good unit; they are well coached,” said Traylor, who added what he is looking for from his defense this week. “We need to tackle better. Our pad level has got to be better; we’re too high.”

Defensively, White Oak is led by senior linebacker Aaron Watson with 40 tackles, followed by Cullen Heim’s 36 tackles and Cody Wright’s 33 tackles. The Roughnecks are giving up an average of 32.8 points per game, which is about 19 points less than what the Buckeyes’ offense averages.

Traylor wants his offense to use this game to prepare for their first round playoff opponent. “We’ve got to keep throwing the ball well. We’ve thrown the ball well this year, and we’re going to need to throw it well against Liberty-Eylau,” said Traylor, who is 77-14 in his eight seasons at Gilmer.

Traylor confirmed that Liberty-Eylau concerns him much more than the Yamboree. “If after all this time, and as much commitment we have in this program, they can’t be a little disciplined about the Yamboree, we’re not going to win anyway. I think these kids are very disciplined; I’d be shocked if we had any problems with the Yamboree.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S MARLON GRANVILLE is off to the races with his interception which he took in for a touchdown. Gilmer scored several touchdowns on defensive turnovers in their 59-7 road victory over Sabine last Friday night. The Buckeyes continue District 15-3A play and stay on the road against the White Oak Roughnecks this Friday night, Oct. 19.

Roughnecks face tough battle against talented Buckeyes

By George Whitley

Friday, October 19, 2007

WHITE OAK — If the White Oak Roughnecks were a team of mountain climbers, tonight's contest with the second-ranked Gilmer Buckeyes might very well be considered Everest.

The daunting task of tackling the ultra-talented, blue chip ridden Buckeyes sits before a young group of battle-weary Roughnecks. Despite the severely stacked odds, coach Tracy Blankenship promises his team won't run and hide.

Gilmer comes into tonight's contest with a spotless 6-0 record, averaging a shade over 50 points per contest. The Buckeyes are winning games by a staggering 40 points.

The Buckeye backfield has a one-two punch of Justin Johnson and Jeremy Jackson. Johnson, who has given his verbal to cross the Red River and play for Oklahoma next fall, leads the way with 693 yards on 55 carries with eight scores. Jackson has equally impressive numbers with an average of 10.8 yards per touch and a touchdown every five times he totes the pigskin.

As a unit the Buckeyes average nine yards per rush and total 304 yards per contest on the ground with 22 TDs.

Up front, Gilmer averages 260 pounds per man, led by 300-pound senior and Texas commitment David Snow at right guard. Snow is joined by 280-pound senior right tackle Daniel Jenkins.

Holding down the post at center is senior Chip Elms, who at 180 pounds is the smallest lineman. Rounding out the left side is 270-pound senior Cody Lee at guard and 260-pound senior Garrett Adkins at tackle.

The Roughnecks turned in arguably their best defensive showing of the season last week against Spring Hill. The Panthers averaged 5.5 yards per rush, but that was under a yard better than the Roughnecks seasonal average of 6.6 per rush.

Senior Cullen Heim continues to develop in his new role at defensive end. Heim has played linebacker his entire career up until two weeks ago against Pleasant Grove. Injuries forced the switch and Heim's showing steady progress, totaling six tackles against Spring Hill. His 47 tackles are third only to linebackers Aaron Watson's 50 and Cody Wright's 49.

Opposite Heim at the other end slot is senior Taylor Martin, who managed a sack last week of Spring Hill's Chris Lee. Martin comes into the contest with 34 total stops and is second to Heim in quarterback sacks.

Along with Watson and Wright, Trevor Wait will be put to the test at the other linebacker post. Wait totaled seven stops last week and has 41 for the season. Plugging the holes at tackle include juniors Orlando Humble and Colton Brown. Humble has totaled 45 stops thus far.

Buckeyes clip Cardinals for 30th straight district win


The Gilmer Buckeyes Black Flag Defense dominated the Sabine Cardinals in the District 15-3A opener Friday night at James Bamburg Stadium. The Buckeyes forced five first-half turnovers, returning two for touchdowns, as Gilmer jumped out to a 52-0 first half lead before settling for a 59-7 victory; their 30th consecutive win in district play.

The Cardinals also discovered how to slow down the Buckeyes’ offense in the second half, as press box officials were instructed to change the game clock from 12 minutes to 10 minutes for both the third and fourth quarters and run the clock non-stop the second half. That limited the Buckeyes to only nine plays and one touchdown after halftime.

That tactic left Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor concerned after the game. “We had 34 plays the entire game on offense. A normal game is 60; so our kids got short-changed by 26 plays,” explained Traylor. “We played about a half of football, and I’m really concerned about what it’s going to do for us in 35 days. I don’t know how we’re going to ask for our kids to be ready for that Liberty-Eylau game when they have not been tested here recently.”

Sabine looked like they were prepared to test the Buckeyes as the Cardinals’ first two plays accounted for 33 yards down to the Buckeyes 36-yard line. But the Buckeyes defense stiffened, forcing Sabine to punt three plays later from the Gilmer 44-yard line.

Gilmer (6-0; 1-0) entered the game as 63-point favorites, and the Buckeyes almost covered the spread in the first half despite the Buckeyes’ leading rusher Justin Johnson joining several other Gilmer starters on the sidelines with an injury.

Johnson’s presence was hardly missed as the hapless Cardinals (0-6; 0-1) tried in vain to stop sophomore quarterback Darian Godfrey and Johnson’s back-up, sophomore Jeremy Jackson. Godfrey passed for 114 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 12 first half attempts, and added another 42 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Jackson recorded Johnson-like statistics, rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns on only seven carries. “Jeremy Jackson had his first start of his career and played really well,” praised Traylor.

Godfrey helped get the Buckeyes on the scoreboard first when he found a wide-open Hunter Harrison for a 21-yard touchdown on the game’s opening drive giving Gilmer a 7-0 lead with 8:13 remaining in the first quarter. “They played one safety and he bit on the fake,” explained Harrison on how he got behind the Sabine safety.

The Cardinals turnover woes started on the following kickoff when the Buckeyes’ Braylon Webb recovered the high kick at the Sabine 27-yard line. Four plays later, Godfrey scored on a 1-yard run with 6:20 left to play in the first quarter. Jake Ashley kicked the second of his five extra-points for a 14-0 Buckeyes’ lead.

On the Cardinals next play from scrimmage, Gilmer’s Zach Jones intercepted a Josh Herrod pass at the Sabine 44-yard line. Two plays later, Godfrey hit Houston Tuminello for a 33-yard touchdown, making the score 21-0 with 5:21 still to go in the opening quarter.

Sabine’s Herrod was sacked on the Cardinals next play from scrimmage, then on the following play Herrod threw his second interception of the game to the Buckeyes’ Marlon Granville, who returned it 55 yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 Gilmer lead with 4:27 remaining in the first quarter.

Gilmer’s fifth touchdown came with 9:12 to play in the second quarter when Godfrey connected with Lamar Harris on a 10-yard touchdown to cap an 8-play, 50-yard drive.

Two plays later, Herrod’s pass bounced off the shoulder pads of Christian Ivey, allowing the Buckeyes’ Vance Green to pick the ball out of the air and return it untouched 30 yards for the touchdown with 7:50 left in the first half. Adan Olivaris then kicked the first of his three extra-points after replacing Ashley.

Green said the interception return was what a defensive player dreams of. “I’ve always wanted to get me a touchdown on defense,” said the sophomore linebacker.

Following another punt on the Cardinals’ next possession, Gilmer kept to the ground, picking up 68 yards on only three runs, including Jackson’s first touchdown of the game on a 13-yard run with 1:22 to go in the half.

On the Cardinals’ next play from scrimmage, the Buckeyes’ Brennan Thompson picked off a Lie’Quan Byrd pass at his own 45-yard line and returned it to the Sabine 25-yard line with less that 20 seconds remaining on the first-half clock.

Instead of using one of his three time-outs, Traylor decided to put some pressure on his special team’s unit. “We just ran them out there like we had no time-outs and were trying to win the game,” said Traylor. “That might come in handy this year, you never know. I know this; if we had to do it, we’ll all feel better that we’ve done it once.”

The field goal unit responded, with Ashley’s kick sailing through the uprights with room to spare from 42 yards out as time expired in the opening half, giving the Buckeyes a 52-point lead.

The Buckeyes received the second-half kickoff, and started the first of only two possessions at their own 42-yard line. Two plays later, Jackson sprinted 52 yards around the right side for Gilmer’s final touchdown.

Sabine finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter following an 11-play, 55-yard drive that took up almost 12 minutes off the running clock before Herrod punched it in from a yard out.

The Buckeyes got the ball back with about 7 minutes to play, but Webb took a knee eight plays later to finish the game just 22 minutes after the second-half kickoff.

Gilmer finished with 148 fewer yards than their team average entering the Sabine game, and according to Traylor, those losses add up for each of his players. “Those kids care. They pick up the newspaper; they look to see who the leading rushers are and the leading receivers. Those kids have pride; they want to be the best. Our kids don’t have a chance with the clock running the way it has.”

And while Traylor is not happy about his players’ statistics, and the lack of playing time for his back-ups, he’s more concerned about preparing to face defending state champion Liberty-Eylau in the opening round of the playoffs. “Our kids have not played into the fourth quarter since the Richwood game. I’m extremely concerned about game conditioning,” Traylor stressed. “We have not played a team near like Liberty-Eylau yet, and they’re coming round one and I’m worried about it.”


Gilmer Sabine
18 First downs 7
9-14-3-0 Passing (c-a-td-int) 4-14-0-4
127 Passing yds 57
20-241 Rushes-yds 19-37
368 Total yds 94
19:00 Time of possession 25:00
4-20 Penalties-yds. 2-22
0 Fumbles lost 1

1 2 3 4 T
Gilmer 28 24 7 0 59
Sabine 0 0 0 7 7

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
HOUSTON TUMINELLO (4) breaks downfield away from the Cardinal defenders as he head for the end zone in the first half of Gilmer’s 59-7 win over Sabine. Ben Griffith (19) accompanies the Buckeye receiver.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
DARIAN GODFREY (10) carries Cardinals with him into the end zone for a touchdown. Other Buckeyes pictured include Zach Jones (3) and Houston Tuminello (4).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Buckeyes open district play at Sabine


When the Gilmer Buckeyes take the field Friday night at Sabine’s James Bamburg Stadium for the start of District 15-3A play, they will face a Cardinals program that is an opposite of themselves.

The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary describes opposite as meaning, “Something or someone that is completely different from another person or thing.” Gilmer went 10-1 last season; Sabine went 0-10 last season. Gilmer is 5-0 and ranked fourth in Class 3A; Sabine is 0-5. Gilmer has a 19-game regular season winning streak; Sabine has a 17-game losing streak. Sabine has scored a total of 73 points this season; Gilmer scored 71 in one game against Tatum.

These two programs are about as opposite as can be. But if David Feaster has his way, the Cardinals will make a u-turn and join the Buckeyes on the road to success. Feaster is Sabine’s new head coach; the Cardinals third in just four years. But Feaster has something the other two coaches didn’t have; experience turning around a losing program.

In 2004 Feaster took over an 0-10 Minden, Louisiana team and went 6-5 in back-to-back seasons, before going 13-1 last season, losing in the state semi-finals. Feaster’s Minden stint was preceeded by eight years at Many, Louisiana, where he went 72-24 and was a perennial playoff participant.

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor is impressed with Feaster. “He’s a very confident person,” said Traylor. “He knows what he’s getting into, and he expects to do well. He really thinks with the talent they’ve got over there, he can turn that thing around.”

That’s a big u-turn, considering the Cardinals have had only two winning seasons in the past 21 years, and Feaster inherits only three returning starters on offense and two on defense.

The lack of experience has shown in the Cardinals first five games, where they have been outscored by an average of 32 points per game. That doesn’t bode well for Sabine, since the Buckeyes average 50 points per game and an average margin of victory of 38 points.

Gilmer’s offense averages 516 yards per game behind sophomore quarterback Darian Godfrey, who has passed for 1,136 yards and 14 touchdowns, and senior running back Justin Johnson, who has 693 yards and eight touchdowns on only 55 carries. Johnson has also caught 9 passes for 125 yards and four touchdowns. Buckeyes’ receivers Lamar Harris, Houston Tuminello and Devane Clark have combined for 874 yards and nine touchdowns on 52 receptions.

Despite those gaudy numbers, Traylor was not happy with his team’s three turnovers in their last game. “We won’t go very far in the playoffs if we don’t take care of the football,” Traylor said.

The playoffs have been Traylor and the Buckeyes’ focus since their early exit in round one last year. “We’re 37 days away from our first playoff game,” reminded Traylor. “We have not talked about any of these games all year. Our program is to the point where we’ll be tested in 37 days, and we’re gunning for that day.”

Traylor makes no apologies for looking ahead. “You’re always preparing yourself. You make adjustments with the opponent, but your measuring stick is not Sabine, or White Oak, or Spring Hill. Your measuring stick is you; how good you’re doing.”

Traylor knows what he wants from the Buckeyes in this week’s game. “I want to see us get better this week in practice, and I want to see it executed in the game Friday night. The scoreboard is no indication; we might score 60, but we might play bad and that’s no good. We want to play well; we want to execute, we want to be crisp, we want to be sharp.”

That being said, Traylor is not underestimating the 62-point underdog Cardinals. “I don’t think we’ve ever beaten a team by 62 points. USC was favored by 41 over Stanford, and they got beat,” stated Traylor, refrencing the Stanford Cardinal 24-23 upset of top-ranked USC on Saturday.

Although possible, it is unlikely that this Cardinals team will upset the Buckeyes, especially with the Buckeyes’ defense allowing only 60 points in five games while holding opponents to an average of 223 total yards per game. The Black Flag Defense has also forced 14 turnovers.

Sabine will try to facilitate the upset with an improved spread offense that has scored almost as many points in five games as the Cardinals did all of last season. “Josh Herod is a good quarterback. He’s a 3-year starter,” stated Traylor. “They have a good receiver that came to our [summer] camp. His name is Taylor Grey; he’s a good little player. He can play.”

On defense, the cardinals operate from a 4-2 scheme, led by one of their senior linemen. “Defensively their nose guard Isiah Colbert is good; he’s a returning starter,” said Traylor.

Feaster knows he has a long way to go to be on the same road as the Buckeyes, but he told the Kilgore News Herald that Sabine is going in the right direction. “Our goals for this year are to establish competitive freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity programs, and to break the playoff drought.”

The Buckeyes goal is focused; get to the playoffs and atone for last year’s loss to Liberty-Eylau. We’ll all know in 37 days if the Buckeyes achieve that goal.

Did you know?

The Buckeyes have a 29-game district winning streak, and have registered six consecutive undefeated district championships since their last district loss in 2000.
Gilmer lost their first game against Sabine 28-0 in 1940, but have won 9 straight by an average score of 40-7 since that first meeting.

Directions to Sabine’s James Bamburg Stadium

From Gilmer take US Highway 271 south through Gladewater. Turn left (east) on State Highway 135 across from the Gladewater Airport. Go approximately 6.3 miles. Turn right on FM 1252. The high school and stadium will be on the right.

Buckeyes roll over Rabbits, 42-14


The Gilmer Buckeyes wasted no time in crushing any hopes the visiting Atlanta Rabbits had in upsetting Class 3A’s fourth ranked team, as the Buckeyes jumped out to a 28-0 first quarter lead on their way to a convincing 42-14 victory.

The win extended Gilmer’s home winning streak to 23 games at Buckeye Stadium, and improved the Buckeyes’ season record to 5-0.

The Buckeyes received the opening kick and promptly established the running game with Justin Johnson’s 38 yards on two carries, before Darian Godfrey hit Houston Tuminello for a 14-yard touchdown with only 2:25 off the game clock. Jake Ashley kicked the first of his six straight extra-points for a 7-0 lead.

Gilmer’s Black Flag Defense came up big on Atlanta’s first possession, when the Buckeyes’ Paul Chesnut recovered a Rabbits’ fumble at Gilmer’s 25-yard line. Behind a 24-yard run from Johnson and a 29-yard reception from Tuminello, the Buckeyes scored 40 seconds later when Godfrey found Zach Jones in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown, making the score 14-0 with 7:00 left in the first quarter.

Atlanta’s second possession wasn’t much better than the first as the Buckeyes forced a three-and-out punt after the Rabbits lost four yards. The Buckeyes’ offense took over at the Atlanta 45-yard line and traveled the entire distance on the ground, with Godfrey running for 14 yards on one carry and Jeremy Jackson running for 31 yards on three carries, including a 19-yard touchdown run with 3:49 to play in the first quarter, making the score 21-0.

Three plays later, Gilmer’s Brennan Thompson jumped on another Rabbit fumble giving the Buckeyes the ball back at the Rabbits’ 31-yard line. Johnson picked up all 31 yards on two carries, including the final 12 yards on a touchdown run with 2:01 remaining in the opening quarter, giving the Buckeyes a 28-0 advantage.

Johnson, who finished with 200 total yards and three touchdowns for the game, said that the first quarter scoring barrage was big for the Buckeyes. “It was real important,” stated Johnson. “We wanted to finish them off. We did a great job of doing that.”

Johnson finished the first quarter with 95 rushing yards on only six carries, helping the Buckeyes’ offense rack up an impressive 211 yards in only 19 plays in the first quarter.

The Buckeyes’ offensive engine sputtered in the second quarter, with uncharacteristic fumbles by normally sure-handed receivers Lamar Harris and Tuminello stopping Gilmer drives.

Atlanta took advantage of the first Gilmer turnover, recovering Harris’ fumble at the Buckeyes’ 39-yard line. Seven plays later, with the Rabbits facing a 4th-and-9, DeMarcus Jones executed a perfectly blocked reverse for a 27-yard touchdown run with 8:02 remaining in the half to cut the Buckeyes lead to 28-7.

Following the Buckeyes’ only punt of the game on Gilmer’s next possession, the Rabbits’ Kevin Horsley-Ivory fumbled the football to the Buckeyes’ Dakota Hagler at Atlanta’s own 29-yard line.

The Buckeyes hammered the nail into the Rabbits’ coffin on the very next play when Godfrey zipped a lateral back to Tuminello, who pulled up and fired a pass to a streaking Johnson who made a nice catch in the back of the end zone for a 35-7 Buckeyes’ lead at halftime.

Gilmer’s defense set the tone for the second half, holding the Rabbits to consecutive three-and-out series to start the half, while the Buckeyes scored on their first possession of the half when Godfrey hit Johnson on a middle-screen for a 33-yard touchdown with 7:08 remaining in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes’ next drive ended with Gilmer’s third turnover of the game, when the Rabbits’ Casey Wilson picked off a Godfrey pass with 2:39 left in the third quarter. Atlanta would again accept the gift and celebrate with a touchdown, this time on a 8-yard run by Demond Haire-Oliver with 7:40 to play in the game.

Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor was not happy with the mistakes. “The disappointing thing was the three turnovers obviously, but look who they were; Lamar Harris does not turn the ball over; he’s a guy that’s fundamentally sound; Tuminello is not a kid who turns it over; and Stump’s interception, that kid just made a good play,” continued Traylor. “That’s three kids I’ll hang my hat on, but you can’t keep winning with three turnovers.”

After asking for the game clock to run for most of the second half, the Rabbits took advantage of the Buckeyes’ generosity after a failed Gilmer 4th down run came up short with 3:48 left in the game, giving Atlanta the football at the Buckeyes’ 24-yard line.

Atlanta used all three of their timeouts over the final few minutes only to have their 4th down pass attempt dropped in the end zone to end the game.

Traylor credited the win to his defense. “Defensively I thought we were pretty good. I thought we got after them. We were real quick to the ball and played with intensity. I was real excited about that.”

The Black Flag Defense held Atlanta to only 176 total yards despite not having a single Buckeyes’ defender record double-digit tackles. “We just play pretty good team defense,” explained Traylor. “There’s never a kid that really stands out over there; they just really play together well as a unit. They do a good job of doing their job. So each week we always have a bunch of kids with a few tackles; we never have one kid with a bunch of tackles.”

Traylor did cite the play of two Buckeyes’ defenders. “David Smith had a great game. He was our special teams’ player of the week. He played really well at defensive tackle as well; he’s really come on. And, Marlin Granville was the bounty hunter of the week; he had some great tackles.”

The Buckeyes’ offense turned in a season low 443 total yards, but Traylor saw some positive signs. “We ran the ball well at times. Our line got after them,” Traylor said, praising one senior lineman in particular. “David Snow played really good. I thought that was his best game and best effort.”

Traylor also praised the play of senior kicker Ashley. “Jake Ashley kicked well. Adan Olivares got hurt in pregame warm ups, so Jake had to do all of the kicking duties and did a really good job.”

After the game, Atlanta head coach Ben Scharnberg predicted good things for the Buckeyes’ future. “My impression of last year was y’all peaked when you played us. I felt like y’all should have won it all. If [Coach Traylor] can keep his kids’ heads screwed on straight and take it one game at a time, then he has an excellent opportunity to win it again.”

Gilmer’s Godfrey assured Scharnberg that he and the rest of the Buckeyes don’t plan on repeating last year’s early playoff exit. “We’re still focused on ourselves and Liberty-Eylau in 42 days,” promised Godfrey.


Atlanta Gilmer
6 First downs 16
5-14-0-0 Passing (c-a-td-int) 15-23-4-1
46 Passing yds 223
35-130 Rushes-yds 27-220
176 Total yds 443
29:25 Time of possession 18:35
4-20 Penalties-yds. 5-37
3 Fumbles lost 2
1 2 3 4 T
Atlanta 0 7 0 7 14
Gilmer 28 7 7 0 42

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN ‘BUS’ JOHNSON stiff-arms an Atlanta defender during Gilmer’s 42-14 win at Buckeye Stadium. The Buckeyes close out their non-district schedule undefeated with a record of 5-0. District 15-3A play begins Friday night in Liberty City against the Sabine Cardinals.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
SIX BUCKEYES are within breathing distance of s surrounded Atlanta Rabbit last Friday night during Gilmer’s 42-14 victory.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON turned in another stellar performance for the Gilmer Buckeyes last Friday night here against Atlanta. He and one of his favorite offensive linemen, David Snow, were selected to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl postseason all-star game earlier in the day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Gilmer 42, Atlanta 14

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Buckeyes Roll Over Atlanta

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes coast to 42-14 win over Rabbits

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Next Level

This is a feature which ran in The Gilmer Mirror about former Buckeyes who are now playing on Saturdays or Sundays, as the case may be.

Courtesy Photo / Dolly Robison
GILMER’S CURTIS BROWN (3) defends against a Rice University receiver. The true freshman led the Longhorns in solo tackles (5) in Texas’ 58-14 win over Rice last Saturday night.

UT's Curtis Brown shines against Rice

Curtis Brown says goodbye to his freshman redshirt as the Texas Longhorns (ranked No. 7 nationally) made a statement with a decisive 58-14 win over Rice at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin on Saturday, Sept. 22.

Thus far in the Longhorns’ pre-Big XII season, Curtis has been adjusting to his new defensive role as a cornerback and special teams regular. He has seen action and recorded tackles in every game for the Longhorns this season, but saw his first action at cornerback in the second half of the Rice game, where he broke up a pass in the fourth quarter. Curtis led the Longhorn defense with five tackles against Rice and expects to continue developing each week this season.

“It’s a lot different being a freshman all over again.” said a smiling Brown after the game. “First of all, I’m not sure that you ever really get used to playing in front of 85,000 people. The rush you get just takes your breath away when you get out on the field.

“Then the guys coming at you are really big and really fast. The speed of the game doesn’t give you time to think. You’d better know your job and where you’re supposed to be before the snap, because if you hesitate you’re going to get embarrassed.”
A point not lost on the crowd in the Longhorns’ home stadium, which houses one of the world’s largest high definition video boards.

“The first time I looked up there and saw a close-up of myself, I stopped breathing!” laughed Brown. “The camera people just follow you wherever you go, so I was trying to find a big lineman to hide behind! When you see yourself live up there 30 feet tall, you just freeze. I just try not to look.”

Something tells me he had better get used to seeing himself on that big screen.

Tay Bowser playing for Mississippi State

Gilmer’s Tay Bowser is a 6’-3”, 185 lb. redshirt sophomore at Mississippi State University. With legitimate 4.4 40-yard speed, Tay was an integral part of the Buckeyes’ 2004 State Championship run. Although he is tall and skinny, Tay’s toughness and attitude has qualified him to play on the defensive side of the ball for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

“A lot of people underestimate me because I’m tall and skinny, but I’ll handle whatever comes my way.” Tay says of himself.

But as a two-way starter for the Buckeyes at cornerback and wide-out, Tay proved his mettle and earned himself a scholarship at a major SEC school.

Last year as a redshirt freshman, the Bulldogs utilized Tay’s considerable talent and speed on special teams, where he appeared in nine games.

This fall, Tay showed flashes of excitement in Week 1 against the nation’s top raked LSU Tigers. In Week 2 he was credited with two tackles playing cornerback and covering special teams in the Bulldogs’ 38-17 win over Tulane.

Tay also posted a solo tackle in the most extensive playing time of his college career in the win over Auburn and earned his first career start against Gardner-Webb, where Tay recorded three solo stops in the Bulldog’s 31-15 victory.

The future looks bright in Starkville for this native Gilmer Buckeye, turned Mississippi State Bulldog.

Jared Baker making noise for the Roos

Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges for 2008, Austin College in Sherman is the state’s oldest institution operating under its original charter. This small liberal arts school with a rich tradition of achievement enjoys a stellar reputation as one of the nation’s premier institutes of higher learning.

Understandably, they do not admit just anyone to be an Austin College Kangaroo. But then again, Gilmer graduate Jared Baker is not just anyone.

Before he lines up, senior ’Roos Defensive Lineman Jared must first address his hectic class schedule and take care of some rigorous academic requirements.

Of course, the long workouts, weight-room sessions and film room study required of a college athlete are still required for Jared. After all, he already has an accomplished college football career. Last year, Jared was Honorable Mention All-SCAC where he had 45 tackles (12 of which were for a loss) and a team best, 5.5 sacks.
This year he has picked up where he left off, having already registering 27 tackles (8 for losses).

So like most “Big-Time” college football players, Jared chases conference championships and dreams of undefeated seasons. But despite football being his first love, academics must be his first priority. It’s a difficult balance to maintain in a smaller division where stadiums hold hundreds, not thousands.

But football is football, wherever it is played, and Jared has certainly done well for himself on the Austin College gridiron circuit. He has logged time in 33 games, registered 127 tackles, 32 tackles for losses (for 120 total yards), three forced fumbles, 13 sacks (for 67 total yards).

This season through five games, the former Buckeye has 27 tackles including 8 for losses (27 yards), 3 sacks (14 yards), 2 forced fumbles and 1 blocked kick.
Although Jared will likely never see his Saturday highlights on ESPN’s SportsCenter, the discipline and character this Gilmer graduate has shown playing the game he loves, while excelling at one of the nation’s leading academic institutions is extremely impressive.

Next year, Jared will most likely be done with his football career. However, with a degree from Austin College in his back pocket, he will enter the next season of his life ranked among the nation’s elite.

Derek McKenzie: Persistence Personified

Derek McKenzie could claim “Founding Father” status on what thousands of fans all over the state now know as “Buckeye P.R.I.D.E.” As a fixture in the Buckeye Football Program from 2000 – 2003, “D-Mac” could list his accomplishments during his career at Gilmer High School, which were nothing short of spectacular.

He could tell you about being second team all-state, a finalist for Class 3A player of the year, first team all-district, and district MVP. He could tell you about scoring 54 touchdowns while generating 4,000 yards of total offense in 2003, and he could recount leading Gilmer to district, bi-district and area championships. Derek could tell you a lot about the pivotal role he played in getting the Gilmer Buckeye Football Program to where it is today. He could, but he never would.

“That’s not the real truth.” he protests when presented with those very same facts today.

“Coach Traylor will tell you, it’s never about one guy. It’s always about the team, and nobody is bigger than the program. There were a lot of guys that came before me who probably deserved those same honors I got, but I happened to come along when Gilmer Football was starting to hit everybody’s radar screen, so, as the quarterback, I got recognized. We never won a state title, but we played Atlanta (the eventual Class 3A Division II State Champions) about as tough as anybody and we knew we were knocking on the door.

“Then Manuel and Kevin and them took the reins and just kicked it in the next year. That’s the great thing about being part of a tradition. You get your time to carry that baton and do the best you can to take things to that next level. Then it’s up to the next group of guys when you hand that tradition off to take another step. I come home all the time and look at those facilities and the trophies, and it just makes me proud to be a Gilmer Buckeye. Our coaches and our guys deserve it, and I think they raise the bar every year. That’s what it’s all about and I still feel connected.”

Derek is still very much connected to the sport he loves, pursuing his gridiron dreams and his college degree.

But his journey through the college football landscape has presented him with more than a few hurdles. After a stellar senior season in 2003 for the Buckeyes, Derek enrolled at Trinity Valley Community College, where he reported as a candidate for the Quarterback position. Unfortunately, a log jam there sent him off to Central Arkansas and a position change to Running Back, where he was redshirted in 2005.

Once again, his persistence was tested by circumstances out of his control, and he decided to transfer to Texas A&M-Commerce, where he saw significant time for the Lions at running back, appearing in six games and rushing for a season- high 88 yards and a TD on just 7 carries against Fort Hays State.

This season, Derek was once again asked to switch positions, this time to the defensive side of the ball.

“Sure, it’s been challenging.” admits Derek. “Nobody ever said it was going to be easy. Anything worth having never is. But one thing I’ve learned is that you have to make the most of your chances when they come. That’s just football at any level.”

Despite the roller-coaster college career he’s had thus far, Derek isn’t shy about his intentions.

“I want to get my degree, and then I’m going to see how far football will take me. I’m going to play anywhere I can until I can’t play anymore. If that’s in the Arena League, or a development league, or in the NFL, wherever I get my chance, I’m going to follow my dream. One thing I will never do is wonder what might have been if I’d have only tried a little harder. I’m playing on Saturdays now, and there was a time in my life that seemed impossible. So who’s going to tell me that Sundays are impossible for me now?”

It certainly won’t be anyone who knows this young man very well.

Derek McKenzie will always be one of the greatest Gilmer Buckeyes to have ever worn the “G”. And for the next two seasons, he will continue to be a force for the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions. But whatever the colors of his uniform after that, you can bet that Derek will be making the most of his opportunities.

Courtesy Photo / Vladimir Cherry, TAMU-Commerce Sports Information Office
DEREK MCKENZIE of the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions fights off a blocker against the Angelo State Rams.

Pettway likes playing for Jacksonville Jaguars
Former Gilmer Buckeye still true to his school


Everyone in Gilmer knows who Kenny Pettway is, and now everyone around the National Football League is becoming familiar with him.

Kenny graduated from Gilmer High School in 2000, and STILL holds the school record in the discus.

He participated in four sports while at GHS. After high school, he spent two years at Southern Arkansas, then sat out a year and transferred to Grambling (La.) State University.

He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the seventh round of the 2005 draft and spent 12 games on the team’s practice squad before being activated for the final four games of the season.

Unfortunately, with the coaching change in Houston in 2006, new head coach Gary Kubiak apparently didn’t feel he had the time for Pettway to make a successful transition from linebacker to defensive end, so he was cut before the season began.

Kenny spent the first few weeks of the 2006 season searching for a second chance at an NFL career. After some frustrating weeks, he was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad on Oct. 18, 2006, and then was activated to the 53-man roster for the final eight games of the season. During those final eight games, he had two sacks, and Jags Coach Jack Del Rio saw the potential that the Texans had missed. Houston’s loss turned into Jacksonville’s gain.

Pettway made the most of those games, having the biggest game of his career on Dec. 3, 2006. He got his first career sack that day in Miami, had two solo tackles, and three quarterback pressures. That performance garnered him more play at defensive end the rest of the 2006 season.

This season, along with playing on special teams, the Jags asked him to work on becoming an outside linebacker as well, a challenge he willingly accepted. He’s done so well making the transition that he’s now listed as number two at outside linebacker on Jacksonville’s depth chart.

Following his team’s 42-28 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday, Kenny reflected on his maturity and discussed the team’s upcoming playoff run.

“I love the team (Jaguars) down there. The way they let me play and get out there and use my abilities is great. Ever since the day I got there, I fell in love with Jacksonville. This is the team that I can see myself playing on. I’m primarily a defensive end and I’m trying to learn linebacker. At the present time, I’m trying to get down both positions at the same time, so it can give me more stuff to do on the team, as well as going with special teams, so hopefully, I can try and get all three of them down, and perfect them well.”

“I always hope that I can stay with the Jaguars long-term. This is my last year on my contract, and hopefully, I’ll be able to re-sign with them and come back next year. As long as I keep doing what I’m doing on special teams and play good snaps on defense at defensive end or linebacker either one, I’ll hopefully be here for a long time.”

When asked what the keys to Jacksonville’s successful season and qualifying for the playoffs were, he responded, “We just work hard every day, go to practice, and go through our reps and make sure everything’s perfected. We try to make sure there’s no holes in the defense or anything like that. From day one, Fred Taylor (starting running back) talked about working hard and being committed to what you do on the field. There’s not one selfish player on this team. Everybody knows their role, and they do it well.”

Kenny noted the biggest difference he’s seen between the mediocre Texans and the playoff-bound Jags. “We are together off the field more. I’m with my teammates almost 24/7 a lot of the time. We’re always around each other. We know each other like the back of our hands, so when you’re on the field with those guys, you know each other inside and out.”

Jacksonville will begin the Wild Card playoff round in Pittsburgh Saturday night at 7 p.m. Central Time. The game will be broadcast on NBC.

At the time of our interview, it was still up in the air as to whether they would travel to San Diego or Pittsburgh this weekend.

When quizzed about whom they might have preferred to play, he replied, “We haven’t had any discussions about who we’d like to play. We played both of them this year and did pretty good against them, so we’ll just go in and prepare for whichever team we play, and take it one game at a time. You always want to think that your team has as good a shot as anybody going in to the next game. You don’t want to under think yourself and say this team’s better than us. I think all our players think that we’re good, and as long as we take it one game at a time, and prepare for these teams every week and don’t look ahead, we’re going to be okay.”

There is a good possibility that the Dallas Cowboys could be the NFC participant in the Super Bowl. Being from Texas, it figured that would be a match up Kenny would enjoy. “That would be something special right there, it would be. The Cowboys, when I was growing up, were America’s Team with Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and those guys playing, and there’s a lot of tradition behind that team going to the Super Bowl. They’ve been there a couple of times and won it, and they know what it takes to get there. That would be something interesting, but at the same time, it would be interesting for us to make it there, so if we make it there, I don’t care who’s on the other side, as long as we’re there.”

Kenny also had some comments about the Gilmer Buckeyes and their appearance in the State Championship game this season. “Man, those guys up there are doing a great job. I had an opportunity to actually work with some of them during the summer camp this summer, and just from working with them, I saw how disciplined they were. They were just headstrong about playing football.

“I worked with Coach Traylor out there and everything was just in order and they do everything right, so I can see why they’re 85-15 (in Jeff Traylor’s eight seasons as head coach). The team is just so disciplined, and when you have a disciplined team, and the team works together, and nobody’s bigger than the other players, you’re going to always have a winning program. As long as they keep running it like that, it’s always going to be there, and I hope he (Coach Traylor) stays there forever and keeps it going the way he’s got it going.”

He knew the team was disappointed in not bringing the Championship Trophy back to Gilmer, but he had some good advice for the Buckeyes.

“Don’t be down. It’s an accomplishment just to make it to the State Championship. Only four teams get to play in that throughout the whole State of Texas. It’s another accomplishment to finish it. They didn’t get a chance to finish it this year, so they just have to come back next year and work that much harder to finish it.

“I would tell them never to be down because you beat everybody that stepped in your path, you made it to the big show, you just didn’t get the chance to finish the big show. The next time you get there, just make sure you finish it out.”

Pettway concluded, “I appreciate my (Gilmer) fans, and all their support, and just keep rooting for us.”

Without a doubt, everyone in Gilmer WILL root for Kenny and the Jaguars to make it to the Super Bowl, but if the Cowboys end up being the NFC representative, it will probably make it a little harder then. Of course, there’s that little team in New England that will eventually stand in the Jaguars way IF they want to play in Phoenix in February, but for now, life is good for Kenny Pettway and the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Gilmer is proud of their accomplishments so far this season.

Buckeyes host Rabbits in final non-district game


When the 4th-ranked Gilmer Buckeyes (4-0) take the field Friday night at Buckeye Stadium against the Atlanta Rabbits (1-4) they will be defending more than just a 22-game home winning streak; revenge will be on their minds.

How could revenge be a motivating factor for the Buckeyes who dominated Atlanta 49-12 last season?

Leave it to Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor to explain. “You could almost say Atlanta cost us the state championship last year for two reasons,” figured Traylor. “One, they went and made Liberty-Eylau madder than a hornet by beating them in week 10; and two, they beat us to death physically.”

That would be the same Liberty-Eylau team that upset the number one ranked Buckeyes a week later in the first round of the playoffs before eventually claiming the state championship trophy.

Traylor claims his team never fully recovered after their physical game against the Rabbits. “The last time the Gilmer Buckeyes played healthy was that night. And a lot of the reason we were not healthy the rest of the year was from playing them. They put three [players] out that night.”

Last year’s loss to Gilmer left the Rabbits with an 0-6 record to start the season, despite claims from Traylor that the Rabbits were a good football team. “Last year, what I said about them still proved to be true,” stated Traylor. “They won their district, they beat the state champions, Liberty-Eylau, and they went to the second round of the playoffs. They were a good team last year.”

The Rabbits’ historically tough schedule has again proved difficult for Atlanta. “They have played a killer schedule,” Traylor said. “They are 1-4 against a very tough schedule.” The Rabbits opened the season with an impressive 17-0 win over 4A Dallas Wilson before losing four straight to 4A teams Hallsville, Kilgore, Mt. Pleasant and Texas High.

Atlanta head coach Ben Scharnberg said the Rabbits have a purpose in scheduling tough games. “I’ve seen a lot of football teams go 10-0 and 11-0, and not go any farther than what they should,” said Scharnberg. “We’re preparing ourselves for the last four; that’s our district race.”

Scharnberg’s theory has worked before. In 2003, the Rabbits started the season 1-4 before winning their final eleven games on their way to the state championship. The 13-0 Buckeyes were the Rabbits’ victim in a 34-14 quarterfinal loss that season.

“In 2003 we played a very important ball game and we were very fortunate to come out on the top end that night and to go on and accomplish some great things,” admitted Scharnberg. “Gilmer has done those same great things since then.”

Since then, the Buckeyes have compiled an amazing 40-3 record, including the school’s first state football title with a perfect 16-0 season in 2004. Meanwhile, the Rabbits have managed only a 12-25 record since their state championship season.

“We just don’t have the kids that we used to have here in Atlanta,” explained Scharnberg. “Don’t get me wrong; we’ve got great kids with great hearts and great character, but we just don’t have the number of athletes that we used to.”

“They’re not the 2003 state champion Atlanta Rabbits,” agreed Traylor. “But they’re a good football team.” Traylor thinks the Rabbits are more dangerous this season because of their move to the spread offense. “They’ve got a good offensive plan this year,” continued Traylor. “I think it’s a great plan for the Atlanta Rabbits; they’ve got speed. Those six skill kids can run. That quarterback, Devon Lockhart, can go. That tailback, Kelvin Ivory (5-8, 170, 4.3) can go. They’ve got a very good receiver in Courtney Houff (6-1, 185, 4.4). Whenever you’ve got three good players on offense, you can score points.”

Traylor should know; his teams have consistently been among the top scoring teams in the state for the past five years, and this year is no exception as the Buckeyes rank number one in Class 3A with 52 points per game. Buckeyes’ quarterback Darian Godfrey leads the way with 1,071 total yards and 15 touchdowns. Running back Justin Johnson heads the Buckeyes’ rushing attack with 560 yards and seven touchdowns on only 44 carries. Gilmer receivers Houston Tuminello, Lamar Harris, and Devane Clark have combined for 731 yards and eight touchdowns on 41 catches.

Asked whether the Rabbits could slow down the Buckeyes’ potent offense, Scharnberg replied, “I don’t know whether or not we can. We’ve got to hope that y’all make a lot of mistakes, and we play extremely well. I don’t know whether we can, but we’re going to give it a shot. We’ve never shied away from anybody yet.”

Scharnberg is most concerned about his team’s seven players who start both ways. “Depth is really hurting us right now. It’s going to wear us down. We’ve played some awful good competition already and we’ll hang with them, but in the second half it just wears us down”

“We’d love to win the ball game,” surmised Scharnberg. “It’s a test for us. Gilmer’s an awful good football team. Jeff and his staff do a great job. It’s going to be a tough battle for us.”

Traylor is excited about the chance to host the Rabbits. “We love playing at home. Our crowd is so good. Our kids love playing at home. It’s fun. It’s an environment where kids like to play. I’m excited about this game because I like playing good people. I have a lot of respect for Ben Scharnberg and his program. His tenure there has been remarkable.”

Did you know?

Scharnberg’s 173 wins ranks him number four among Class 3A coaches. 148 of those victories have been with Atlanta.

The Rabbits will be attempting to win their 500th game in school history. Atlanta’s overall record is 499-322-32.

Atlanta has a 26-13 record in 39 games against Gilmer. The two teams first met in 1925 with Gilmer winning, 27-14.

Offense - Jason Humphries
Defense - Tanner Kern

Buckeyes destroy Roughriders, 63-6


If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If the Gilmer Buckeyes win a game in the forest and no one is around to see it, does it count? The piney wood forests that surround Center may hold the answers to both questions.

In front of an estimated crowd of under 1,000 people, the Buckeyes chopped down the Center Roughriders 63-6. Gilmer fans largely stayed at home, instead of making the 100-mile drive south for fear of a Buckeyes’ blowout. That’s exactly what happened as Gilmer piled up 405 total yards to take a 50-0 halftime lead.

The small crowd was just one reason Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor felt like he was in a time warp. “I felt like I was coaching in a junior high football game,” admitted Traylor. “We had a small crowd, there was no pregame music. We expected it to be like this, so we worked hard on trying to be real focused on doing our job, because there was not going to be any high school game excitement. It was like a scrimmage, so I was proud of the kids’ intensity and focus.” That intensity was most evident in the first quarter as Gilmer scored 29 points in 23 plays. The first points came on a 22-yard screen pass from Darian Godfrey to Justin Johnson with just 1:35 off the game clock. The Buckeyes added two points on a pass from Braylon Webb to Johnson, giving Gilmer an 8-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, the hapless Roughriders committed the first of their five turnovers for the game, when the Buckeyes’ kick landed in the middle of several Center players who just looked at the football while Gilmer’s Brennan Thompson pounced on the live ball, giving the Buckeyes possession at the Roughriders’ 21-yard line.

After a Buckeyes’ penalty, and an incomplete pass, Godfrey threw his first interception of the season to Center’s Alex Cloudy at the Roughriders’ 5-yard line. That would be the only possession the Buckeyes failed to score on in the first half.

Center gained only a yard in three plays before punting to the Buckeyes from their own end zone.

Gilmer got the football at the Center 45-yard line and scored six plays later on a 3-yard pass from Godfrey to Devane Clark. Adan Olivares kicked the first of his six extra points to make the score 15-0 with 7:08 left in the first quarter.

Center’s rough ride continued on the kickoff as the Buckeyes’ Ross Stevens recovered the fumbled football at the Center 34-yard line. Three plays later, Johnson scored his second touchdown from a yard out, giving Gilmer a 22-0 lead just 45 seconds after their last score.

The Roughriders offense showed signs of life on their next possession, gaining 40 yards before the Buckeyes’ Kendrick Starling picked off Jaelyn Short’s pass and returned it to the Gilmer 22-yard line.

Six plays later Godfrey scored on an impressive 40-yard run to increase the Buckeyes’ lead to 29-0 with 2:06 still left in the opening quarter.

Center responded with their longest drive of the game, 52 yards on 9 plays before an incomplete pass on fourth down returned the football to the Buckeyes at their own 4-yard line. Gilmer’s quick-strike offense covered most of the 96 yards in two plays; a 53-yard pass from Godfrey to Lamar Harris, and a 41-yard touchdown pass from Godfrey to Hunter Harrison that made the score 36-0.

The Buckeyes’ defense forced another three-and-out punt from the Roughriders, returning the ball to the offense at the Buckeyes’ 41-yard line. Six plays later, Godfrey connected with Houston Tuminello on a 41-yard touchdown pass to extend the Gilmer lead to 43-0 with 4:30 to play in the first half. Center’s next possession consisted of an offensive penalty and a fumble recovered by the Buckeyes’ Mikey Wilson at the Roughriders’ 31-yard line. Godfrey scored the seventh touchdown of the first half on a 2-yard keeper six plays later.

Traylor was pleased with the first half. “I thought our kids came out there and played well,” Traylor said. “The offensive line played a lot better, especially Daniel Jenkins; he played real well. Stump [Darian Godfrey] was very accurate with the football again. Our receivers did a good job, and our backs ran well.”

Gilmer’s Stevens said the dominant first half was needed after the Buckeyes last performance. “We all knew that we played mediocre against Daingerfield, and we all wanted to come back and really show what we can do,” said Stevens. Since the Center football team couldn’t keep the Buckeyes out of the end zone, the Center scoreboard operator decided to do it himself, running the clock almost non-stop throughout the second half, limiting Gilmer to only 13 offensive plays. “I’ve seen clocks run, but I’ve never seen one run straight through,” laughed Traylor. “I was disappointed because we had a lot of kids that didn’t get to play very much.”

Despite the limited number of offensive plays, the Buckeyes made the most of them, with a spectacular 52-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Jackson on Gilmer’s first possession of the second half, and a 5-yard touchdown run by Webb to finish the Buckeyes’ scoring barrage.

Those two scores were separated by the Roughriders third fumble of a kickoff return, another first for Traylor. “I’ve never seen that happen,” said Gilmer’s 8th-year head coach. The Roughriders finally managed to get on the scoreboard when Cloudy ran the football in from 4 yards out with 1:02 remaining in the game. The extra point attempt was wide. Traylor admitted that it was hard to judge his teams’ performance based on Center’s poor play. “We wished we had been challenged a little bit more, but that’s just the way it is right now.”

Buckeye offensive lineman David Snow said that he is focusing on the big picture. “In this game we were preparing for on down the road, and the big challenges ahead.”


Gilmer Center
20 First downs 10
18-26-4-1 Passing (c-a-td-int) 7-28-0-1
309 Passing yds 79
28-254 Rushes-yds 27-106
563 Total yds 185
23:38 Time of possession 24:22
5-31 Penalties-yds. 2-10
0 Fumbles lost 4
1 2 3 4 T
Gilmer 29 21 13 0 63
Center 0 0 0 6 6

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S HUNTER HARRISON hauls in a pass from Darian Godfrey with nothing but green grass ahead. Harrison’s touchdown on a 41-yard play put the 4th-ranked Buckeyes ahead 36-0 with 9:20 remaining in the second quarter. Gilmer (4-0) overwhelmed the Center Roughriders in Center last Friday night, 63-6. The Atlanta Rabbits (1-4) come to Buckeye Stadium this Friday night in the final tuneup for both teams before they begin play in their respective districts.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER QUARTERBACK Darian “Stump” Godfrey lowers his head as he heads for the final touchdown of the first half despite the efforts of two Center Roughriders. Gilmer led 50-0 at half and won the game, 63-6.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON bursts through a huge hole to dash to a 1st-and-goal at the Center five to set up Gilmer’s second touchdown against the Roughriders on the road last Friday night.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE RUNNING BACK Kedon Franklin follows the blocks of Garrett Adkins and Dakota Hagler to pick up a first down against Center.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S VANCE GREEN has an in-your-face approach to handling the Center quarterback. Jaelyn Short. This collision occurred just a split second after the Rider got the ball in the air. Gilmer defeated Center 63-6.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
ADAN OLIVARES, with Braylon Webb holding, kicks the last of his six PATs during Gilmer’s 63-6 stomping of the Center Roughriders. The Buckeyes face Atlanta here Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE PAUL CHESNUT completes his swing around the left corner on a reverse late in the second quarter in Center. Buckeye tackle Garrett Adkins (73) escorts Chesnut on his run.