Thursday, November 29, 2007

Buckeyes face Dallas Roosevelt in regional final

Gilmer faces another 'big-time prospect' in Roosevelt's McNeil

Former Eagles soaring for Roosevelt

PrepCountry.com Class 3A Playoff Preview Show for Week 3

Pregame Interview with Coach Jeff Traylor

Week 12 - Roosevelt vs Royse City






Week 9: Dallas Madison at Dallas Roosevelt





Week 3 - Molina vs. Roosevelt




Week 1 - Roosevelt vs. Lincoln








Video of Roosevelt-Royse City on Nov. 23

Video of Roosevelt-SOC on Sept. 29

Video of Roosevelt-Molina on Sept. 21

By JOE DODD

When the Gilmer Buckeyes defeated the defending state champion Liberty-Eylau Leopards in the first round of the playoffs, Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor was convinced that his team had just faced the most athletic and talented football team in Class 3A. He is rethinking that evaluation now as his team prepares to meet the Dallas Roosevelt Mustangs Saturday at 6:30 pm in Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium in the Class 3A Division I Region II Final.

“The difference is,” explained Traylor. “These guys have three threats, where L-E had one.” Liberty-Eylau relied almost exclusively on the running of star back LaMichael James. Roosevelt spreads the football around to their big three: quarterback Vincent McNeil Jr., running back Kevin Booker and receiver Quintell Solomon.
McNeil (6-2, 195, 4.4) has become the state’s top dual-threat quarterback, running for 1,469 yards and 18 touchdowns, while passing for 1,807 yards and 33 touchdowns out of the Mustangs’ spread offense.

Booker has 1,070 yards and 11 touchdowns on 165 carries, while Solomon (6-3, 190, 4.4) has caught 44 passes for 743 yards and 13 touchdowns.
All together they helped Roosevelt average 406 yards and 41 points per game. “We can attack anywhere,” proclaimed Mustangs’ head coach Joseph Daniels. “We can go long, we can go wide. We have a versatile offense.”

“It’s just like Tatum in 2004,” Traylor agreed. “Great quarterback, great running back, great receivers. Fast as can be. That’s who they remind me of.”
Gilmer beat that 2004 Tatum team 60-35 in the regional finals on their way to the state title. That was the last regional final the Buckeyes played in, losing in the second round in 2005 and the first round in 2006.

Traylor is quick to point out that his 2004 defense included three first team all-state players, something this year’s defense lacks. “No one really stands out,” stated Traylor. “They’re like a no-name defense; they just get it done.”

The Black Flag Defense has been impressive all season giving up an average of only 218.4 yards and 12.6 points per game. Roosevelt and McNeil will be their toughest challenge to date. “I don’t know if we can tackle him, but we’ll get a great effort out of our kids this week because they know how good they are,” promised Traylor.
The Mustangs have been good since the first game of the season when McNeil connected with Solomon for a 7-yard touchdown pass with no time on the clock to shock Class 4A Dallas Lincoln 34-33.

The Mustangs went on to defeat three more 4A teams on their pre-district schedule, including Dallas South Oak Cliff who is still alive in the playoffs. The only team to beat the Mustangs was Dallas Molina, a Class 5A team that lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Entering the playoffs, Roosevelt wasn’t considered to be much of a threat since it has been 19 years since a Dallas Independent School District team has won a state championship. But the Mustangs ignored recent history in blowout wins over Kennedale (46-10) and Royse City (48-22) to set the table for their showdown with the Buckeyes.
“We don’t feel like we’re underdogs,” admitted Daniels, who is 18-5 in his two seasons with the Mustangs. “We started out the season with a goal in mind and that was to win a state championship.”

To achieve that goal, the Mustangs will have to do something that no other team in school history has done; advance past the third round of the playoffs. “We’re going to come in there ready,” promised Daniels, who believes that his team’s schedule was the difference in their upset win over Royse City.

“I don’t know if they had been battle-tested like we had,” questioned Daniels. “We played some heavyweight schools in the 4A division and also a 5A division school, so we had been battle-tested pretty good.”

Traylor admitted that the Mustangs’ schedule and big win over Royse City had gotten the attention of the Buckeyes. “They know they are playing a great, great team that destroyed Royse City,” Traylor said. “I think we’ll refocus and give Roosevelt all they can handle.”

The Mustangs expect as much. “Gilmer’s got a good little team. It’s going to be a good game,” said Daniels, who expects the Buckeyes to stick with the running game that has accounted for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns in Gilmer’s two playoff wins.
“I’m pretty sure they’re going to come out running the ball on us. The running back twenty-two is a good athlete,” stated Daniels, referring to Justin Johnson who has rushed for 511 yards and 8 touchdowns in those two wins. “He’s a big back and I’m sure he’s going to try to run downhill on us. We’re just going to try and stop him.”

Johnson said the Buckeyes will be prepared. “We know Roosevelt is a great team. We are going to practice hard this week to see if we can get those guys,” said the senior running back who needs 170 rushing yards to reach 2,000 for the season.

Roosevelt’s defense has allowed an average of 239.9 yards per game this season, with 174.4 of that coming on the ground; statistics that are amazingly similar to Gilmer’s defense. Daniels said the two defenses have something else in common. “We try to play real team defense. I don’t know if we have any outstanding individual on the defense, we just try to play as a team.”

When asked what his defense likes to do, Daniels joked, “We like to stop folks, we try to slow them down as much as we can.” Joking aside, the Mustangs’ 4-3 defense has limited opposing teams to just 15.5 points per game.

While Roosevelt’s impressive numbers have captured the Buckeyes’ attention, Traylor is certain that his team is motivated by their own team goal. “If you win this one you are just two away,” said Traylor in reference to the state title. “You’re getting close.”

Did you know?
• This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
• The last time Gilmer played at Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium was in 1991. The Buckeyes lost 34-21 to Forney to finish 11-2.
• Roosevelt won the 2006 Class 3A Basketball championship, defeating Bullard 58-41. Quarterback Vincent McNeil Jr. and Defensive End Terrence Dellums won gold medals.
• Gilmer needs 46 points to surpass the team’s single-season record of 664 points scored during the 2004 season.

Directions to the stadium
Take State Highway 155 South approximately 26 miles. Take Interstate 20 West for approximately 69 miles before taking exit 499A and merging onto US Highway 80 West for approximately 19.4 miles. Merge onto I-635 South for 1.8 miles then take the Scyene Rd. exit (TX-352 exit 4) toward Military Pkwy. Take the Scyene Rd. ramp toward Miitary Pkwy. West then turn right on W Sceyne Rd./TX 352 W. Keep left at the fork, stadium will be on the left.




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Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE RECEIVER Houston Tuminello secures the pigskin and picks up the first down as the Mabank Panther pounces on him during second quarter action at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches Saturday against Mabank. In background are Buckeyes Darian Godfrey and Justin Johnson. Tuminello and his teammates will travel to Mesquite Saturday night to play the Dallas Roosevelt Mustangs for the Class 3A Division I Region II championship.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE LINEBACKER Mikey Wilson (34) bursts into the Panther backfield past Matt Holcomb (64)to take down Mabank’s quarterback, Kolton Browning.

Buckeyes survive weather to beat Mabank

By JOE DODD

Overcoming what head coach Jeff Traylor called, “The toughest playing conditions I have ever played or coached in,” the Gilmer Buckeyes defeated the Mabank Panthers 35-28 Saturday at Stephen F. Austin’s Homer Bryce Stadium to stay alive in the Class 3A Division I area round.

With temperatures in the low 40s, driving rain and a brisk north wind, the Buckeyes also overcame a furious comeback attempt by the Panthers in the game’s final two minutes to advance to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the third time in the last five years.

“It was just so cold, so miserable, windy and rainy, and Mabank really played great. They really competed hard. We got it done. That’s the name of the game to move on. I’m very proud of my kids right now,” exclaimed Traylor after the game.

The Buckeyes improved their record to 12-0 while the Panthers ended their season at 6-6. “We weren’t really sharp, but it was about what we expected coming after Liberty-Eylau,” explained Traylor, who admitted that it was difficult for the Buckeyes to match the emotions from last week’s big win over the Leopards. “I don’t think it would have mattered who was next because that Liberty-Eylau game was so physical; it was such a battle.”

The Panthers meanwhile had no problem getting motivated to face the state-ranked Buckeyes. “Mabank came into the game with the same energy level that we did against Liberty-Eylau,” said Traylor, who improved his career playoff record to 12-5 with the win.

Both teams got off to a slow start, thanks in large part to the weather. Gilmer took the opening kickoff and punted four plays later after usually sure-handed Houston Tuminello dropped a third down pass. Mabank also went three-and-out on their first possession, returning the football to the Buckeyes at their own 16-yard line.

After a 1-yard loss on the first play, Gilmer running back Justin Johnson took the next handoff and bounced outside, running down the left sideline 85 yards for the games first touchdown. Johnson also got the call on the successful 2-point conversion attempt, running the ball in from 3 yards out with only 1:27 off the game clock to give the Buckeyes a 8-0 lead.

The Panthers and Buckeyes traded punts again on the next two posessions before the Panthers tied the score at 8-8 on the first play of the second quarter when Mabank quarterback Kolton Browning capped off a 73-yard, 13-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 11:57 remaining in the second quarter, then passed to Jake Birch for two points.

Gilmer’s next possession started off promising when Tuminello made amends for his earlier drop with a spectacular 30-yard reception that put the Buckeyes at the Panthers’ 35-yard line. On the next play, Johnson picked up 7 yards to Mabank’s 28-yard line before two straight incomplete passes stopped the Buckeyes’ drive on downs.

Five plays later Browning hit Birch down the left sideline for a 67-yard touchdown with 8:34 to play in the first half. Michael Blackburn’s extra point kick was no good after hitting the left upright, but the Panthers led 14-8. “Their quarterback played as good of a game that could be played under those weather conditions,” said Traylor of Browning who finished 28 of 39 passing with 275 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

Traylor admitted that Browning’s execution in the bad weather forced a change in strategy for the Buckeyes. “We were going to take away the run and ignore the pass,” Traylor said. “It didn’t take us long to realize that he was on fire, so we had to readjust.”

And readjust they did, keeping Browning and the Panthers out of the end zone for almost 31 minutes until the junior quarterback led the Panthers to two touchdowns only 42 seconds apart late in the fourth quarter.

Traylor praised his defensive leaders. “Another great game by Ross Stevens; he had 19 tackles and recovered an onside kick,” said Traylor who also singled out the play of Michael Pierson, Devane Clark and Mikey Wilson. Pierson finished with 7 tackles and a sack, Clark had 9 tackles and a knock downed pass, and Wilson had 12 tackles and two sacks. While the Buckeyes’ defense adjusted to stop the Panthers, Gilmer’s offense changed their game plan to focus on the running game, rolling up a total of 361 yards and 5 touchdowns on 40 carries, much to the delight of Traylor.

“In order to win a championship you’ve got to be able to run the football, and this team can,” Traylor said. “We’ve had to run it under the toughest of circumstances for two weeks in a row.”

The Buckeyes’ ability to run the football allowed Gilmer to score the next four touchdowns, effectively ending the Panthers upset hopes.

Johnson led the way with 245 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25 carries. “It was a great challenge to come out here in the rain and the cold and handle the adversity,” said the Buckeyes’ senior running back who tied the score on a 24-yard touchdown run with 5:14 left in the half. Freshman kicker Adan Olivares gave Gilmer a 15-14 lead with the first of his three extra point kicks.

The Buckeyes’ Black Flag Defense set the tone for the second half, keeping the Panthers scoreless on their first three possessions, including two that ended on failed fourth down attempts by Mabank.

Gilmer’s first three second-half possessions proved to be the difference in the game, as the Buckeyes scored on all three to take a 35-14 lead into the final two minutes of the contest.

“It was really great,” said Stevens. “Momentum is a really big thing in the playoffs. We just came out and had a better start in the second half than they did.”

Johnson started things off with a 21-yard touchdown run with 8:25 to play in the third quarter, his third scoring run of the game. “You can’t say enough about him,” Traylor stated. “He’s a great back. He really wants to win a state championship.”

With the Buckeyes’ passing game on hold due to the weather, quarterback Darian Godfrey showed his dual-threat capability, rushing for 112 yards and the final 2 touchdowns on only 14 carries. “He was such a great leader,” praised Traylor about his sophomore signal-caller. “He competed so hard.”

Godfrey’s first touchdown came from only a yard out, finishing a 71-yard, 12-play drive with 10:23 to go in the fourth quarter.

Godfrey’s second touchdown run was spectacular. With the football at the Panthers’ 45-yard line, Godfrey caught the snap and rolled to his right, only to drop the ball at midfield. Godfrey picked up the wet football, side-stepped a would be tackler then reversed direction and headed down the left sideline to the cheers of the Buckeyes’ fans. Godfrey was hit about the 15-yard line, but managed to stay balanced, tip-toeing down the sideline and into the endzone with 4:37 remaining in the game.

Despite the 21-point lead, Traylor was not comfortable. “I knew, with the way their offense is, the clock wasn’t going to move and they had all of their time-outs, so three scores with three time-outs, you’re an onside kick away, and that’s what it ended up being.”

Mabank finally got back on the scoreboard with a 12-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Browning hitting Haydon Blair from a yard out with 1:52 to play.

On the ensuing onside kick, the Panthers were awarded the recovered football at the Buckeyes’ 46-yard line despite a Mabank player apparently touching the ball before it traveled the required 10-yard minimum.

Five plays later Browning connected with Blair on a diving touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. Blackburn’s extra point kick was good, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 7 points with 1:10 left in the game.

Gilmer’s Stevens recovered the next onside kick, giving the Buckeyes the football at the 50-yard line. Godfrey ran out the clock with three kneel-downs.

Traylor credited the win to his front five. “I was extremely proud of the offensive line,” commented Traylor. “Cody Lee had his best game of the year. Chip Elms’ snapping was great in that kind of weather.”

Traylor also praised his special teams’ snappers, holders and returners. “We had no turnovers again, and in those conditions that’s phenomenal.”

Traylor also wanted to thank the fans that showed up to cheer the Buckeyes in miserable conditions. “There were a lot of people up there. I was shocked. Those are the most diehard fans; it was amazing. We are very grateful.”

Lee, the senior lineman, summed up his feelings after the hard fought victory.

“It’s a blast! You work so hard all year long to try to go as far as you can in the playoffs; and to get beat in the first or second round is so hard. We’ve worked very hard over the year, so we should be here. It’s paid off, all the work that we’ve done.”

STATISTICS

Mabank Gilmer
21 First downs 19
28-40-3-0 Passing (c-a-td-int) 5-11-0-0
275 Passing yds 70
33-108 Rushes-yds 40-361
383 Total yds 431
26:45 Time of possession 21:15
7-45 Penalties-yds. 8-56
0 Fumbles lost 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 T
Mabank 0 14 0 14 28
Gilmer 8 7 7 13 35

Special Teams Player of the Week - Brennan Thompson
Bounty Hunter of the Week - Brennan Thompson
Hector’s Wrecker - Zack Davidson
Black Attack - Cory Davison


Mirror Photos / Mary Laschinger Kirby
AS THE RAIN pours down, members of the Buckeye Band above celebrate a Gilmer touchdown during the Class 3A Division I Area game last Saturday afternoon between the Mabank Panthers and the Gilmer Buckeyes at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches. Below, from left, Buckeyes Ross Stevens, Mikey Wilson, Damien Redditt and Dakota Hagler surround Mabank’s Kolton Browning in his backfield. The QB for the Panthers came up with two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the game to narrow the margin of victory, but Gilmer held on to win.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE LINEBACKER Ross Stevens watches his teammates Vance Green and Paul Chesnut (11) pull down the Panther ball carrier as Gilmer shut down the Mabank attack in the third quarter during last Saturday’s 35-28 victory.


Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON splashes his way to his third touchdown Saturday in Nacogdoches as the Buckeyes rode the “Bus” to another playoff win, this time in the Area round at Nacogdoches against Mabank, 35-28.


Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
AFTER RECOVERING a fumbled snap, Gilmer’s Darian Godfrey eludes the tackle attempt of Mabank’s Zack Chavez before heading to the sidelines for a 45-yard dash to the end zone and what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gilmer 35, Mabank 28

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Gilmer Holds Off Mabank Comeback Attempt

From the Longview News-Journal:

Johnson sparks Gilmer victory

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Buckeyes face Mabank Saturday in Area round

By JOE DODD

Coming off what Gilmer Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor called, “the best win we’ve ever had in our program,” the 11-0 Gilmer Buckeyes will take on the 6-5 Mabank Panthers at 2 p.m. Saturday at Stephen F. Austin’s Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches in the area round of the Class 3A Division I playoffs.

Gilmer’s 41-26 win over defending state champion Liberty-Eylau had been the focus for Traylor and the Buckeyes since losing to the Leopards in last year’s first round. Now that revenge has been served, can the Buckeyes shift their attention to the underdog Panthers?

“It seems like we’ve focused on L-E all year,” said senior offensive lineman David Snow. “But really it was beyond L-E, it was [a] state [championship] because it seemed like we got cheated out of it last year.”

Senior running back Justin Johnson agreed with Snow. “We’ve got a lot more good teams down the road and we’re going to prepare for them. We’re not going to take any time off; we’re going to finish the deal.”

That’s music to Traylor’s ears, who hopes that the Buckeyes’ seniors learned from the last time they faced a similar situation. “I think they’ll be able to remember how excited we were to beat Daingerfield in 2005, and then we played a Canton team that people didn’t think were as good as us, and we were not ready to play. We played one of our worst games and Canton beat us. Mabank reminds me a lot of Canton in 2005.”

Just like Canton, who ended Gilmer’s state championship defense with a 61-58 victory two years ago, the Mabank Panthers hope that the Buckeyes will have difficulty forgetting last week’s big game.

“We might be catching them at the right time,” suggested Mabank head coach Jimmy Cantrell, who is 21-21 in his four years at Mabank. “I know they’ve been thinking about Liberty-Eylau since last year. I know that was a very emotional game for them that they just won, and as a coach I know that it’s hard for a team to bounce back and play at the same level the following week.”

While Gilmer’s win over Liberty-Eylau improved Traylor’s playoff record to 11-5, Mabank’s 29-14 bi-district win over Athens was the Panthers first playoff win since 1988. Gilmer enters the game as a 27-point favorite, according to texasfootballratings.com.

Cantrell claimed this is a classic David versus Goliath match up. “That’s pretty much what it is,” said Cantrell. “It’s going to be a huge challenge for us. They’re pretty much the complete football team. It’s probably the best football team I’ve seen on film since I left the 5A ranks.”

Traylor warned Gilmer fans not to buy into that theory. “You don’t get here unless you’re pretty good. There are no bad teams left,” insisted Traylor, who points out that, “They average 34 points a game but what’s more impressive to me is their last five games where they averaged 44 points per game.”

Cantrell admits that the Panthers are coming together at the right time. “The last three weeks we’ve played extremely well on both sides of the ball. I think we’re peaking at the right time. Whether it’s going to be enough, I don’t know.” Mabank’s offense has been more than enough for most of the season, as the Panthers new scheme has paid off. “It’s called the Tony Franklin offense,” explained Traylor. “Mabank runs it, Royse City runs it, Sulphur Springs runs it. It’s the thing to do right now.”

Tony Franklin is the offensive coordinator at Troy State University. He developed the offense while coaching at Kentucky with Hal Mumme and current Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. It features a no-huddle, up-tempo, spread offense that features the passing game. Panthers’ junior quarterback Kolton Browning has broken every Mabank record this season throwing for 2,684 yards and 23 touchdowns.

The passing game was especially potent in the Panthers’ season opening 58-21 win at Rusk, when the left-handed quarterback Browning threw for 450 yards. The Panthers followed that up with a three game losing streak, caused in large part by the Panthers’ offense. “We were so one dimensional early in the season and people were defending that, so finally we had to just cut loose and run the football.”

So who did the Panthers turn to to solve their running game? Quarterback Kolton Browning, who has rushed for more than 625 yards and scored 8 touchdowns running in the last four games. “It’s been a nice surprise,” understated Cantrell, who added, “Our quarterback is pretty good at reading the secondary, and he’s got a pretty good arm. We’ve got to try to establish a running game and make them honor both sides, the run and the pass.”

Traylor praised the Panthers’ signal caller. “He can throw it, and he can run it. The offense is all about him,” Traylor said. “Mabank will make you look bad because they are so good on offense.”

Being so good on offense has allowed the Panthers’ defense time to gel. After giving up an average of 29 points per game in their first eight games, Mabank has allowed less than 12 points per game in the last three games.

“Defensively they remind me a lot of us;” confessed Traylor. “They’re scrappy, they get lined up correctly, and they play hard.”

Cantrell said the key to stopping the Buckeyes’ state-best- scoring offense is, “We’re just going to have to swarm, gang tackle, and everybody just run to the ball.”

Cantrell added that the Panther’s schedule was designed with the playoffs in mind. “We played the Whitehouses, we played the Rockwall-Heaths, we had some 4A teams scattered in there and some good 3A teams to prepare us for this moment.”

While the Panthers have faced the pressure of big games this season, they have not played in a big venue such as Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches before. “I’m going to have to deal with the awe factor with my kids,” warned Cantrell. “But all football fields are 100 yards long and they’re all 53 yards wide and they all have scoreboards in them, and the amount of seats in them doesn’t bother us any, I hope.” Playing in a large stadium in front of a giant crowd is something that the Buckeyes are accustomed to. Homer Bryce Stadium in particular has become a special place for Gilmer, who won two games there in 2004, including the last game that season — a 49-47 win over Jasper for the Class 3A Division II State Championship.

“I’ve got a lot of great memories from SFA,” admitted Traylor, who earned two degrees from the university, and met his wife there when he was a student.

But Traylor likes to focus on the present, and warned his team this week that all of the time and effort that went into the win against Liberty-Eylau could be wasted. “If we lose this game, the L-E win means nothing; we just got to play another week.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
FOUR BUCKEYES converge on Liberty-Eylau’s LaMichael James as Damien Redditt, Dakota Hagler, Mikey Wilson and Michael Pierson join their efforts to stop the elusive running back. Saturday’s opponent, the Mabank Panthers, will likely present a challenging aerial assault on offense in contrast to the Leopards’ ground game.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
USING A 2-RUNNING BACK, 2-tight end formation, which Gilmer unveiled last Friday night against Liberty-Eylau, the Buckeye line and Jeremy Jackson (32) create the hole for Justin “Bus” Johnson (22) on his fifth touchdown run of the game. The time-consuming drive in the fourth quarter ate up over seven minutes as the Buckeyes completed their drive for a bi-district championship and a 41-26 win.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
MEMBERS OF Gilmer’s offensive line, from left, David Snow, Justin Fielden, Chip Elms, Daniel Jenkins, Cody Lee and Garrett Adkins, all seniors, listen intently to their coach, Kurt Traylor, while Coach Thad Black listens to the pointers underscored during a time out Friday night at Longview’s Lobo Stadium during the bi-district game with Liberty-Eylau. Gilmer rushed for 338 yards behind its talented and gargantuan O-line to win, 41-26.

Buckeyes run past Liberty-Eylau, 41-26

By JOE DODD

The Liberty-Eylau Leopards started the game by running through a sign that read, “November 17, 2006... they never saw us coming.” The Gilmer Buckeyes ended the game by running through the Liberty-Eylau Leopards, notching a 41-26 win and avenging last year's shocking loss.

“It was the most satisfying victory we've ever had,” insisted Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who kept his record of never losing back-to back games to the same opponent intact.

Gilmer's Justin (Bus) Johnson, who entered the game with only 88 carries on the season, ran the football 35 times for 266 yards and 5 touchdowns as the Buckeyes finished the game with a dominating 20-0 fourth quarter to send the defending State Champions home Friday night at Longview's Lobo Stadium before an estimated 8,000 fans.

“I didn't know I was going to get 35 [carries], but I knew we were going to pound the ball,” said Johnson, whose previous high was 16 carries against Tatum. “I'm not tired at all; I'm a little sore, they had some hard-hitting guys out there, but I'm not tired at all,” said the senior captain.

The Buckeyes, who entered the game averaging almost 23 passing attempts per game, surprised the Leopards with only 7 passes while operating out of a 2-back set for the first time this season. “We worked on it every Monday the entire year, we just didn't want to show it,” admitted Traylor, who explained the reason behind the change.

“We just thought they were so more athletic on defense than we were. We played to our strength and away from their strength,” Traylor stated, adding “It's a senior team and if the seniors wanted to advance, we let the seniors have it.” It worked, as the Buckeyes racked up 338 yards on 51 rushes, controlling the clock for almost half of the game.

“They had a great scheme; coming out and running the ball, who would have thunk that?” said Leopards' head coach Pat Brady. “Who would have thought that Gilmer would have come in and racked up those kind of rushing yards? It was a great scheme.”

While the Buckeyes' offensive game plan was a surprise, Liberty-Eylau did exactly what Gilmer expected; give the football to Lamichael James. James tried his best to match Johnson's barrage, running for 231 yards on 32 carries, but with only six runs over 10 yards and two rushing touchdowns, it wasn't enough.

“We almost played a perfect game,” gushed Traylor. “We had no turnovers, we had very few penalties, we kept the ball in front of us. As much as [James] hurt us, he never had a big play. It was almost the way we planned it to a ‘t.’ It was just remarkable.”

Buckeyes safety Braylon Webb credited their year-long focus for keeping James in check. “We had practiced all year for this. Coach Traylor had been saying every day that he [James] was going to get his, and when we get in, we've got to get ours.”

The Buckeyes got theirs early, taking the opening kickoff and riding the Bus to a touchdown10 plays later, when Johnson ran it in from 4 yards out. Johnson picked up all 64 yards in the drive on 8 carries. Freshman Adan Olivares kicked the first of five extra points, giving Gilmer a 7-0 lead just 3:02 into the game.

The Leopards' first drive looked promising, but stalled at the Gilmer 40-yard line when the Buckeyes' defense forced the Leopards to turn the football over on downs after pressuring the Leopards into an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Gilmer's offense covered the 60 yards on only four plays with Jeremy Jackson picking up 8 yards and Johnson covering the other 52 yards on only three carries, scoring from 8 yards out with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter to give the Buckeyes a 14-0 lead.

Just as Gilmer fans started to relax, Liberty-Eylau came roaring back. The Leopards' next drive lasted 5:25 and covered 67 yards in 10 plays, ending with a Michael Brewer 6-yard touchdown run, cutting Gilmer's lead to 14-7 with less than a minute gone in the second quarter.

After a three-and-out series by the Buckeyes' offense, the Leopards evened the score with a 35-yard touchdown pass from James to Kendrick Ray on fourth down.

Gilmer responded with a 63-yard, 10-play drive punctuated by Johnson's third touchdown on a 4-yard run that gave the Buckeyes a 21-14 halftime lead.

Despite the 7-point lead, the Buckeye faithful were restless, recalling that Gilmer's 9-point lead at the half last year was quickly extinguished by the Leopards' 19-0 third quarter barrage.

Those fears were quickly validated when the Leopards' Rakeem Ellis took the second half kickoff back to the Buckeyes own 45-yard line. Seven plays later James punched it in from a yard out for his first touchdown of the game. Gilmer kept a 21-20 lead when the Buckeyes' defense dropped James for a 12-yard loss on the Leopards' two-point attempt with 8:16 in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes' first series of the second half started off with a roar as Johnson busted loose for a 31-yard gain to the Leopards' 38-yard line on the first play. But the series ended with a whimper when Darian Godfrey was dropped for a 10-yard loss on fourth down, returning the football to Liberty-Eylau at their own 44-yard line.

Eight plays later, James gave the Leopards their first lead of the game with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:24 to play in the third quarter, but the Buckeyes' defense turned back another 2-point conversion attempt, making the score 26-21. “We hadn't been in a close game, we haven't had to play in the fourth quarter, and we were losing going into the fourth,” said Traylor describing the adversity that his team faced.

The Buckeyes responded with 20 unanswered points, while holding the Leopards to only 24 yards in the final quarter. “I've never been prouder of any team,” Traylor said. Johnson set the tone for the comeback with a 42-yard kickoff return to the Liberty-Eylau 40-yard line. Six plays later, Godfrey completed one of his three passes in the game, hitting Houston Tuminello on a wide receiver screen at the 15-yard line. Tuminello followed three blockers into the end zone regaining a 27-26 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“I knew that I had to get in there and I got the blocking up front and it all opened up,” Tuminello explained.

Gilmer's 2-point conversion attempt from Godfrey to Tuminello appeared to be successful, but an official ruled that Tuminello's outstretched arms had not gotten the football over the goal line.

The Leopards’ next possession lasted only three plays before the Buckeyes' Vance Green recovered a Alex Watson fumble at the Gilmer 47-yard line. “That was the play of the game I thought,” said Traylor.

“That was tough,” said Brady of the game's only turnover. “We were moving the ball; I think we're going to go down and score again because all that sophomore's got to do is take that snap and hand it off to some good athletes, but the ball goes down on the ground.”

The Buckeyes capitalized on the Leopards' mistake 50 seconds later when Johnson scored from 6 yards out pushing the lead to 34-26 with 10:16 to play in the game.

The Gilmer defense came up big again forcing the Leopards to punt on their next possession after losing 3 yards on 3 plays. Tuminello fair-caught the punt at the Buckeyes' own 45-yard line with 8:30 remaining in the game. Clinging to a vulnerable 8-point lead, the Buckeyes produced their longest-duration drive of the season, keeping the ball for 7:11 before Johnson closed the door to any Leopards' comeback hopes with a 4-yard touchdown run with only 1:19 left in the game.

“I think this game has helped us to know that we can play at that level,” said Johnson, referring to concerns that the Buckeyes weren't battle-tested. Johnson was also quick to defer credit for his career-best performance. “I wouldn't be able to run like I did tonight if it wasn't for the offensive line. They did an amazing job tonight.”

“Their effort was phenomenal,” agreed Traylor. “Chip Elms had his best game of the year. Cody Lee had his best game of the year. Garrett Adkins, David Snow, Daniel Jenkins and Justin Fielden played a great game. We also had Dakota Hagler and Ross Stevens playing tight end. All those guys played really well.”

Traylor also credited the Buckeyes' receivers for their down field blocking and said, “Our running backs ran hard and blocked well for each other.”

Traylor reserved his greatest praise for his undermanned defense. “They compete so hard and they never quit,” Traylor said. “They are the epitome of the Black Flag Defense; they're not going to surrender. To keep them scoreless in the fourth quarter was phenomenal.”

To understand the importance of this game, the 2004 State Championship winning coach summed up the victory with this statement, “It's the best win we've ever had in our program.”

STATISTICS

Gilmer Liberty-Eylau

22 First downs 16
3-7-1-0 Passing (c-a-td-int) 2-10-1-0
45 Passing yds 55
51-338 Rushes-yds 43-259
383 Total yds 314
23:40 Time of possession 24:20
2-20 Penalties-yds. 4-31
0 Fumbles lost 1
SCORE BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 T
Gilmer 14 7 0 20 41
L-E 0 14 12 0 26

Special Teams Player of the Week- Adan Olivares
Bounty Hunters of the Week - Mikey Wilson
Hector’s Wrecker - Gus Osborne
Black Attack - Dustin Hardin




Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON drives downfield on the opening possession of the Class 3A Division I bi-district contest between Gilmer and Texarkana Liberty-Eylau last Friday night at Lobo Stadium in Longview. Johnson finished the night with 35 carries for 266 yards and five touchdowns for his most productive night yet as a Buckeye. With a fourth quarter flourish, Gilmer avenged its loss at the hands of the Leopards on this same field a year ago.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
ON GILMER’S second drive, Justin Johnson kept running backwards until he crossed the goalline for a 14-0 lead over the Leopards. After four quarters of fireworks, the Buckeyes (11-0) came out on top, 41-26, and advance to Area against the Mabank Panthers (6-5) Saturday at 2 p.m. at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches on the SFA campus. Gilmer will be the home team, but will wear white.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
COACH JEFF TRAYLOR leads the applause as he salutes the different Gilmer units which performed well to bring about the bi-district victory last Friday night. Now the Buckeyes are getting ready to face Mabank in the Area round Saturday at SFA.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mabank (6-5) vs. Gilmer (11-0) at Homer Bryce Stadium

Buckeyes facing playmaking QB

This Area game is set to kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday in Nacogdoches.

Physical address of the stadium on the SFA campus (scene of the Buckeyes' 49-47 Class 3A Division II championship win over Jasper in 2004):
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=N.+University+Dr+at+E.+College+-+Nacogdoches,+Texas+75961&om=1


The Buckeyes are the home team, but will be wearing white. The Panthers will be wearing green.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gilmer 41, Liberty-Eylau 26

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Johnson, Buckeyes Avenge Loss To Defending Champs

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes battle past Leopards

Red-hot 'Dogs hammer Mexia, 55-7

Carthage needs to get past Liberty Hill this Friday night at Mesquite's Hanby Stadium in the Area round, which will be no small order. Should the 'Dogs do so, I fully expect Gilmer and Carthage to meet in an all-East Texas (just as Gilmer-Jasper was in 2004 in Division II), Class 3A Division I title game four weeks from today.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Buckeyes seek redemption against TLE Leopards

By JOE DODD

Deja vu according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary means “a feeling that one has seen or heard something before.”

Last year the Gilmer Buckeyes finished the regular season 10-0 and were a favorite to win a state championship. This year the Gilmer Buckeyes finished the regular season 10-0 and are a favorite to win a state championship.

Deja vu can also mean “something overly or unpleasantly familiar.”

For the Buckeyes, that would be the Liberty-Eylau Leopards of Texarkana, who stunned Gilmer 39-36 in the playoff’s first round last year at Longview’s Lobo Stadium, on their road to the Class 3A division I state championship.

Friday night at 7:30 the Buckeyes and Leopards will meet again at Lobo Stadium, with the visiting Buckeyes wearing white and the home team Leopards wearing maroon; just like last year.

“We started counting down the days we got to play Liberty-Eylau again the day after,” confessed Gilmer Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor.

That focus was necessary according to Traylor who admitted, “The mistake I made last year was I underestimated how talented they were,” Traylor said. “I didn’t practice on them as much as I should have. I took it one week at a time last year, and said we’ll deal with them when we get there. That was a mistake.”

This year, Traylor didn’t make the same mistake, instead his team practiced for the Leopards every week since two-a-days started in early August. “I had to do something to get my kids to understand,” insisted Traylor, who made no apologies for his team’s single-minded focus.

“They didn’t just beat us, they won a state championship,” Traylor said. “I’d say that’s a pretty good team to be working on.”

Traylor is confident that his team won’t experience deja vu when it comes to estimating the Leopards’ abilities. “Last year my kids didn’t know. My kids took them way too lightly. This year my kids know. If we don’t show up and play well it’s over, and they know it.”

They know it because it happened to them last year. Despite their quarterback being featured on the cover of Texas Football magazine and their season-long number one ranking, the Buckeyes lost the turnover battle, the penalty battle and the field position battle during last season’s heartbreaking loss to the 7-3 Leopards.

This season it was the Leopards who had all of the hype. “Just think back to the preseason. Who was ranked number two in the state? Who had 14 starters returning? Not us,” replied Traylor, who admitted, “There’s not as much hype about this [Buckeyes] team. We’ve gone 10-0 and everybody’s discounted us saying that our schedule is easy.”

That schedule did include a game against two-time defending state champion Tatum, but Traylor cautioned Buckeye fans not to view the Buckeyes 71-28 win over the Eagles as a sign of things to come against the Leopards. “We have not played a game this year good enough to win against Liberty-Eylau. If we play as well as we did against Tatum, we’ll get beat.

That’s how much better Liberty-Eylau is than everybody that we’ve played,” continued Traylor. “If our town and our kids do not have the mindset that we are underdogs; we’ll be in trouble.”

Liberty-Eylau head coach Pat Brady laughs at Traylor’s assertion. “I don’t think they are the underdog by any means. They’re 10-0, and we’re 5-5,” countered Brady. “Their record is no indication of how good they are,” insisted Traylor who points out that four of the Leopards’ five losses came against 4A teams North Lamar, Greenville, Mount Plesant and Sulphur Springs, while the fifth came at the hands of district champion Pleasant Grove.

“They are the state champions, not us.” reiterated Traylor. “That’s why we are the underdogs. They are the favorites; anybody that doesn’t think so, doesn’t know what they are talking about.”

Traylor also calls into question the college recruiting experts that list the Leopards’ LaMichael James (5-10, 190) as the eighth best all-purpose running back in the country. “I want to see the seven that are better than him,” Traylor said. “I don’t think there is one in the country better than him. He’s Reggie Bush-like; he can do it all. He lines up at quarterback, slot receiver, outside receiver and tailback. He probably drives the bus over there for them.”

James certainly drives the Leopards’ offense, accounting for 62 percent of their total yards and 50 percent of their scoring. Against the Buckeyes last year, James racked up 198 yards and 4 touchdowns.

“LaMichael James is a great football player with a lot of speed,” Brady said. “He’s got great vision when he’s running with the football so obviously when we have a kid who has those kind of abilities it behooves us to get the ball in his hands, and that’s what we’ve tried to do all season, and that’s what we’re going to continue to try and do. We’re going to try to get the ball in his hands and let him do his thing.”

James did his thing best against Pittsburg when he rushed for a school record 322 yards on his way to claim the Leopards’ career rushing record.

But Traylor is equally concerned with receiver Jeremy Whigham (6-0, 205), tight end Jermaine Waller (6-0, 185) and receiver Marquez Clark (5-9, 170). “They can all score on any play,” Traylor said.

It doesn’t get any easier on the other side of the football stated Traylor. “Their team speed is amazing. Defensively, they are by far the fastest we’ve played.” That was evident last year when the Leopards held the Buckeyes to almost 200 yards and 20 points below their average.

Last year the Buckeyes came into the game against the Leopards averaging 529 yards and 55 points per game. This year the Buckeyes average 530 yards and 54 points per game.

Deja vu.

Brady said that numbers don’t matter once the playoffs begin. “The records, wins and losses, points for, and points against; none of that concerns me. When you step out onto the field, especially in the playoffs, anything can happen.” The Leopards proved that last year, using the momentum from their win over the Buckeyes to roll to the state championship game. Against Waco Robinson, the Leopards allowed more than 600 yards of total offense and managed less than 300 yards on their own, but still won the game 35-34 to claim their second state championship in eight years.

Brady is confident that this year’s Leopards can repeat that feat. “If we can go out and play our game with the ability that we have; if we can do that, I like our chances against anybody,” Brady exclaimed. “We’re talented enough and good enough that if we can ever play four quarters, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Traylor hopes the deja vu ends at kickoff. “I think this team’s been through more adversity than last year’s team to be quite honest with you because we’re not as good; we’re not as talented,” said Traylor who has never lost twice in a row to the same team. “Everybody focuses on the division one signees, but a football team is not made out of five players; you’ve got to have about 35 of them. This team competes very hard, they’re very intelligent, they have high character.”

That high character is what Traylor is counting on to get past the Leopards this year. “We can beat them, we can,” Traylor said. “But it will take an absolutely perfect game by us.”

Directions to Lobo Stadium

From Gilmer, take State Highway 300 approximately 17 miles to Longview. Turn left (east) onto Loop-281 for 2.8 miles, and turn left (north) onto Airline Drive. Stadium is on the left.

The Gilmer Independent School District is urging all Buckeye fans who attend the bi-district game between the Gilmer Buckeyes and the Liberty-Eylau Leopards Friday night to wear ORANGE.

In the event that the Gilmer Buckeyes are still in the playoffs next week, playoff tickets will be sold at the Gilmer ISD central office on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 19 and 20, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

School will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday Wednesday through Friday. They will return to the regular Tuesday through Thursday sales schedule the following week.




Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON watches the block of Justin Fielden (98) develop as he goes after yardage against the Bears Friday. Johnson punched in a touchdown just before the first half ended last Friday night. The senior OU commit will lead the Buckeyes into Lobo Stadium Friday night against Liberty-Eylau. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
SEVEN IN ‘07 indicates that the Gilmer Buckeyes have won seven consecutive district championships in the past seven years as Dakota Hagler holds high the District 15-3A championship trophy the Buckeyes received after their 53-17 win over Gladewater here last Friday night. Coach Jeff Traylor, right, prepares the players for their next opponent, Liberty-Eylau.

GILMER BUCKEYES vs. L-EYLAU LEOPARDS

Buckeyes stay perfect with 53-17 win over Bears

By JOE DODD

Gilmer Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor has wanted his undefeated team to face some adversity this season. Friday night at Buckeye Stadium Traylor got his wish, as the Gladewater Bears became the first team to lead the Buckeyes this season when Bears’ quarterback Dalton Waters raced untouched 42 yards for a touchdown, giving Gladewater a 7-0 lead with 7:56 to play in the first quarter.

That adversity lasted exactly 94 seconds before Buckeyes’ QB Darian Godfrey tied the score with a 1-yard run, starting a 33-point onslaught by Gilmer that propelled the Buckeyes to a 53-17 win.

The win was the Buckeyes 6th straight over the Bears, and marked Gilmer’s 7th consecutive undefeated season in district play; a span of 34 straight district wins. The victory also marked the 25th home win in a row, as well as pushed the Buckeyes’ regular season winning streak to 24 games.

“I’m glad that’s over,” replied Traylor when asked about the pressure of keeping the winning streaks alive. “It was a great warm-up game for us. Gladewater has some kids that can run.”

Gilmer was warming up for their first round playoff matchup against defending state champion Liberty-Eylau, while Gladewater had nothing more to play for than to upset their longtime rival’s winning streaks. Early in the game, it looked like the Bears might get their wish.

Gladewater struggled on their first possession, gaining only three yards before punting. The Buckeyes’ first possession looked promising, then ended abruptly when a Godfrey scramble turned into a fumble when the sophomore quarterback ran to his right and started to throw the football, only to have it slip out of his hand and fly straight up into the air. A mad scramble saw the Bears recover the loose ball at their own 45-yard line.

Two plays later, Waters scored, and the Buckeyes trailed for the first time since losing to Liberty-Eylau last November. “Other than that one big play, we played really well on defense,” stated Traylor, whose defense allowed only 229 total yards on the night. “Like always, they all played pretty good. I was proud of their effort,” stated Traylor who singled out Ross Stevens (8 tackles), Brennan Thompson (7 tackles), Damien Redditt (7 tackles), Dakota Hagler (7 tackles), Vance Green (6 tackles), Marlon Granville (5 tackles)and David Smith (5 tackles) for good games.

The Bears’ touchdown awakened the Buckeyes, who seemed sluggish at the start of the game. Godfrey made amends for his fumble, leading the Buckeyes on a 6-play, 59 yard scoring drive tying the score with 6:22 to go in the first quarter.

Gladewater’s next series didn’t last long and gave Gilmer the football at the Bears’ 44-yard line. Three plays later Godfrey lofted a pass towards the back of the end zone where a diving Houston Tuminello made an unbelievable catch; somehow managing to drag his feet in the end zone before landing out of bounds. Adan Olivares kicked the second of his four extra points for the game, giving Gilmer a 14-7 lead with 3:41 remaining in the first quarter.

The Bears’ next possession lasted only 3 plays and resulted in nine negative yards before Gladewater was forced to punt to Tuminello, who fair caught the ball at the Bears’ 40-yard line.

Four plays later Godfrey and Tuminello hooked up again, this time on a jump ball in the opposite side of the end zone, giving the Buckeyes a 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. Neither team had much success on their first possession of the second quarter, with Gladewater going three-and-out and the Buckeyes turning the football over on downs.

The next series wasn’t any better for the Bears, who lined up to punt from their own 30-yard line only to have the ball fumbled by the punter who picked up the football and wildly threw it down field where it fell incomplete, allowing the Buckeyes to take possession at the Bears’ 30-yard line.

Six plays later, Godfrey demonstrated his strength when he took off on a quarterback keeper from the 15-yard line and ran into a wall of Bears’ defenders at the 5-yard line and powered his way into the end zone for a touchdown with several Bears on his back. The extra point kick was blocked, making the score 27-7.

Gladewater’s woes continued on the ensuing kickoff when the Bears’ returner slipped and had the ball bounce off of him into the hands of Gilmer’s D.J. Stanley at the Bears’ 18-yard line.

The Buckeyes made short work of the short field, scoring two plays later when Justin Johnson ran it in from 10 yards out with 2:49 to play in the half giving Gilmer a 33-6 lead after a failed two-point conversion attempt.

The Bears’ offense finally came back to life on their last possession of the half scoring on a 4th down play from 18 yards out when Waters connected with Julian Griffin on a touchdown pass with 10 seconds remaining in the half. That capped off an 8-play, 80-yard drive and left the Bears trailing the Buckeyes 33-14 at the half.

Gilmer made sure to stop the Bears’ momentum in the second half by taking the opening kick and driving 71 yards in 4 plays, scoring on a 32-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Jackson just 45 seconds after kickoff to push the Buckeyes’ lead to 40-14.

Gladewater’s first series resulted in another three-and-out for the Bears. Gilmer took possession of the football at their own 33-yard line and proceeded on a 4-play, 67-yard drive alternating between Godfrey to Hunter Harrison pass completions and Jackson runs to cover the distance in only 1:21. Jackson scored his second touchdown of the game from 33 yards out, pushing the Gilmer lead to 46-14 after Olivares’ kick sailed wide.

The Buckeyes added an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter when Kedon Franklin ran it in from 3 yards out capping off a 5-play, 70-yard drive highlighted by three Josh Thompson runs covering 67 yards.

The Bears countered with a 45-yard field goal from Alex Vasquez as time expired.

The sound of the final horn marked the end of the most successful class in Gilmer history, as this year’s seniors, who sport a 46-3 record, finished undefeated at home for their career.

“I’m going to miss this place so much,” said senior offensive tackle David Snow. “I spent four years in this place and now I’m not going to have it anymore so it’s going to be real sad.”

Fellow senior Lamar Harris echoed Snow’s sentiments. “I was crying, I’m not going to lie. It’s over with now,” said Harris.

While Traylor understood his seniors’ emotions about their last home game, he warned them about repeating their lethargic play against Liberty-Eylau. “ If we play like this next week, it will be over.”

Special Teams Player of the Week- Justin Fielden Bounty Hunter of the Week - Paul Chesnut, Dustin Jones

STATISTICS

G’water Gilmer

12 First downs 29
5-15-1-0 Passing(c-a-td-int) 16-25-2-0
81 Passing yds 198
35-148 Rushes-yds 33-326
229 Total yds 524
28:19 Time of possession 19:41
9-75 Penalties-yds. 4-45
1 Fumbles lost 1

SCORE BY QUARTERS

1 2 3 4 T
G’water 7 7 0 3 17
Gilmer 21 12 13 7 53



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER SENIORS celebrate another undefeated regular season by posing on the ‘G’ logo. The Buckeyes beat the Gladewater Bears here 53-17 to tune up for this Friday night’s long-awaited rematch with Liberty-Eylau in Longview.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S HUNTER HARRISON picks up 16 yards on his second catch on this fourth quarter drive against the Bears. Jeremy Jackson finished the drive with a touchdown run of 33 yards to put Gilmer ahead 46-14. Both teams scored once more for a final score of 53-17.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE DEFENDERS Braylon Webb, left, Kendrick Starling, and Damien Redditt stop the Bear running attack in the Gladewater backfield. Gilmer defeated the other G-town, 53-17, to set up the bi-district contest with Liberty-Eylau Friday at Lobo Stadium in Longview. Last year on that same field the Leopards eliminated heavily-favored Gilmer from the playoffs, 39-36, and went on to win state.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ticket info

Gilmer (10-0) will play Texarkana Liberty-Eylau (5-5) in a bi-district game between the Class 3A Division I representatives of Districts 15- and 16-3A respectively. It is scheduled for Lobo Stadium in Longview on Friday night, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets ($6 for adults; $4 for students) will go on sale at the Gilmer ISD Administration Building (located at 500 S. Trinity St.) Tuesday, Nov. 13 through Thursday, Nov. 15, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.
The Buckeyes will be the visiting team and Gilmer fans will be seated on the visitors' (east) side of Lobo Stadium. There are no reserved seats.

Gilmer fans are urged to wear ORANGE.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gilmer 53, Gladewater 17

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes roll to 34th straight district win

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Gilmer Routs Bears To Finish Unbeaten

Buckeyes host Gladewater in regular season finale

By JOE DODD

The Gilmer Buckeyes have a lot on the line Friday night in their final regular season game against the Gladewater Bears at Buckeye Stadium.

No, there are no playoff berths up for grabs, as the Buckeyes (9-0, 4-0) are already assured of their seventh straight trip to the post season. There is no district championship on the line, as Gilmer wrapped up their seventh consecutive district title last week.

But there are the streaks. Like the Buckeyes’ 33-game district winning streak, the 24-game home winning streak, and the 23-game regular season winning streak. “It means a lot because we want to teach the younger kids that pride and tradition is in your heart, and we want to keep that going,” senior receiver Lamar Harris said.

While the streaks are a big motivator to the Buckeyes, head coach Jeff Traylor believes that will not be the focus of his team this Friday night. “This is my seniors’ last home game, and when they play their last home game, every kid that I’ve ever coached, that night is a little different. It’s like they start to realize that life really does go by fast and I’m never going to play at Buckeye Stadium again,” Traylor said.

That realization may be particularly strong to this year’s seniors, who are the most successful class that has ever suited up for the Buckeyes, sporting a 45-3 overall record in their four seasons. “It’s your last time,” Traylor cautioned. “And you don’t want your last time to be a way that you don’t want to remember it.”

Enter the Gladewater Bears. Much like their animal namesake, Gladewater is like a trapped, wounded bear. “They’re the most dangerous; what have they got to lose?” asked Traylor. “They’re not going to the playoffs no matter what. What do you think the only thing they’re shooting for over there is? It’s to ruin our perfect season.”

The Bears have stumbled to a 3-6 record this season and will miss the playoffs under second-year head coach Scott Callaway who admits, “It’s been a season of adversity and we’ve taken some lumps throughout the year. We’ve struggled a little bit this year,” said Callaway.

Despite their struggles, Traylor is convinced that the Bears can provide a serious challenge for the Buckeyes. “They’re awfully talented. They are the most talented team in our district,” Traylor said. “Just look at the kids that can score every time that they touch it. Julian Griffin is a division one football player at receiver. Their running back Edwin Harris had over 100 yards rushing on us last year. Cameron Price took the opening kickoff against Sabine and went 75-yards for a touchdown. Cardarian Lewis can go at any time. That’s a lot of kids that can take it to the house at any time.”

Callaway thinks that Traylor is exaggerating just a little. “We’re probably one of the bottom tier teams in our district based on the reults,” Callaway admitted. “The two teams that they’ve blown away the last two weeks, those two teams put us away. We know we have our work cut out to be competitive with them.”

Callaway argues that the Buckeyes are literally “loaded for bear” with the highest-scoring offense in the state and Class 3A’s second-ranked scoring defense. “Our goal is to be competitive and give them a good district ball game to finish up the year before they start the playoffs,” Callaway said.

Traylor warns Gilmer fans to ignore websites that have the Buckeyes listed as 54-point favorites over the Bears. “It doesn’t matter what the records are, you can throw the records out,” stated Traylor. “It’s Gladewater and Gilmer and I expect it to be a battle.”

Callaway agrees with Traylor on this point. “I still think it will be exciting,” Callaway said. “Our kids know the Gilmer kids; Gilmer knows our kids; they know each other real well.”

That knowledge is one of the reasons Traylor feels his team will not underestimate the Bears. “Our kids know their kids. They know what kind of athletes they are, because they play against them all the time.”

Traylor has also warned his team to be ready for anything from the Bears. “I expect them to run every little trick play, onside kick, and fake punt,” said Traylor who is 80-14 as head coach at Gilmer, including 6-1 against the Bears.

Traylor’s first win at Gilmer was against Gladewater and it serves as a reminder that anything can happen when these two teams meet on the football field. “In 2000, Gladewater was state-ranked, and we were the underdogs. They were kicking our tails all over the field out here, and we just kept hanging with them, and finally we came back and beat them,” Traylor recalled.

Callaway would love for that scenario to repeat itself this year. “You play every game every week to win; so that’s our goal here, to win the ball game. Whether it’s to get in (to the playoffs) or just playing for pride; we’re going in to this week with a goal of trying to win this ball game,” Callaway said. “Our kids are prepared to come over there and get after them and see what happens.”

Buckeyes’ senior linebacker Brennan Thompson gave one more reason that Gilmer needs to be prepared Friday night. “It’s real big for us because we’ve got Liberty-Eylau the next week, so we need to play good [against Gladewater] to carry it on to L-E.”

Did you know?

Gilmer can even the all-time series against Gladewater with a win. The Bears hold a 25-24-2 advantage against the Buckeyes, despite Gilmer’s 14-2 record against Gladewater since 1991.


The Buckeyes have won 53 of their last 54 regular season games.

Buckeyes’ sophomore quarterback Darian Godfrey needs 60 yards to reach 2,000 passing yards for the season. Gilmer senior running back Justin Johnson needs 286 yards to reach 1,500 rushing yards on the season.

Hector's Wrecker - Adam Martin
Black Attack - Tamile Harris



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JEREMY JACKSON turns the corner before turning on the afterburners for the second of his two explosive scoring bursts last Friday night.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE RECEIVER Houston Tuminello takes Spring Hill defensive back for a ride into the end zone as the Panther defender hangs on for a third quarter ride. Gilmer closes out its regular season at home against Gladewater Friday night.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
PAUL CHESNUT pulls down the Spring Hill running back for a short loss and Brennan Thompson closes in on the play as Gilmer’s Black Flag Defense turned up the heat on the Panthers last Friday night.

Buckeyes declaw Spring Hill Panthers

By JOE DODD

The Gilmer Buckeyes captured their seventh consecutive district championship in impressive fashion Friday night, destroying the Spring Hill Panthers 65-7 on their home field. The win was the Buckeyes’ 33rd straight in district play and 23rd consecutive regular season victory.

While the end result was impressive, the Buckeyes’ opening act was not, as the Panthers forced Gilmer to punt on their first possession for only the second time this season.

Spring Hill’s first possession resulted in only 27 yards and no points, but did manage to eat up almost six minutes off the clock, before the Panthers punted the football back to the Buckeyes with 4:03 to play in the first quarter.

That’s when the Buckeyes’ quick strike offense erupted on the first of four one-play touchdown drives in the game.

Justin Johnson took the handoff at the Buckeyes’ 10-yard line and raced 90 yards up the middle for the score. Adan Olivares kicked the first of 8 straight extra points, giving Gilmer a 7-0 lead with 3:53 remaining in the first quarter.

Spring Hill only managed 4 yards in their next 3 plays before punting. The Buckeyes returned the favor after gaining just 20 yards on four plays, when Jake Ashley’s second punt of the game rolled into the end zone for a touchback.

After a 5-yard penalty against the Panthers offense, Gilmer safety Braylon Webb intercepted a Chris Lee pass at the 40-yard line and returned it to the Spring Hill 17-yard line with 26 seconds to go in the opening quarter.

Following a 4-yard loss on the Buckeyes’ first play, Darian Godfrey connected with Houston Tuminello for a 21-yard touchdown on the next play, the first of the second quarter, to push the Buckeyes’ lead to 14-0.

The Panthers’ next drive ended quickly again, as the Buckeyes’ defense forced another three-and-out series. Spring Hill’s Lee, whose first two punts had averaged 45 yards, shanked the punt for only 16 yards, allowing the Buckeyes’ offense to take over at the Panthers’ 39-yard line.

Three plays later, the Buckeyes fumbled the snap and Spring Hill’s Mitch Wright recovered the football at the Panthers 33-yard line.

14 plays and 6:59 later, Spring Hill’s Nick Richardson finished the 67-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 14-7 with only 2:58 left in the first half.

Panther fans could smell an upset following the Buckeyes’ next series; a three-and-out drive that lost 12 yards and forced Gilmer’s third punt of the half. That was until Ashley’s punt bounced at the Panthers’ 45-yard line and hit a Spring Hill player on the foot allowing the Buckeyes to pounce on the live football with 1:30 to play in the half. “I thought it was the play of the game,” said Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, of the muffed punt. “Our defense kept us in it and allowed us to get another shot.”

The Buckeyes didn’t waste the opportunity, scoring four plays later when Godfrey hit Devane Clark on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds to play, giving Gilmer a 14-point lead at halftime for the second straight week.

“They were doing what a lot of people have done in the past; wadding up in a ball and trying to get three yards to keep our offense on the bench,” explained Traylor. “It’s not like we weren’t prepared for it, they just did a good job of executing it.”

Senior receiver Lamar Harris said that the Buckeyes never panicked. “We had to make adjustments at halftime,” Harris said. “We got in there and started talking about it and regrouped.”

Senior linebacker Brennan Thompson said it was Traylor who provided the recipe for the Buckeyes’ second half success. “We’ve got to keep playing hard and have senior leadership; that did it.”

Gilmer came out of the locker room inspired and put 30 points on the score board in the third quarter thanks to great field position provided by the Buckeyes’ Black Flag Defense and Dustin Jones’ booming kickoffs. Spring Hill’s first 5 possessions resulted in four three-and-out series and one turnover, while Jones’ kickoffs netted three touch-backs and one safety.

“We kind of settled down and our defense held in there for us,” Traylor said. “The kickoff team was just amazing, and it gave us field position and allowed us to settle down on offense.”

Gilmer’s first three second-half drives all started inside the Panthers’ 36-yard line, and resulted in three more quick strike touchdowns for the Buckeyes. Godfrey started the scoring barrage with a 3-yard run with 9:29 to go in the third quarter. The next score came only 22 seconds later, thanks to a Ross Stevens fumble recovery, when Godfrey found Paul Chesnut with a pass from 26 yards out. Johnson added another touchdown run five plays later from 36 yards out.

The Buckeyes finished the third quarter touchdown party with their longest possession of the game, a 5-play drive that took 2:33 off the clock, when Godfrey completed a 64-yard bomb to Harris, who dragged a Panther defender the final 15 yards into the end zone.

“I felt him get on my back and I said I’m not going down at the one, I got to get in there. So I got in there,” said Harris, one of four Buckeyes’ receivers with a touchdown catch in the game.

Things only got worse for the shell-shocked Panthers on the ensuing kickoff when Spring Hill’s kick returner caught the football inside the 1-yard line and stepped backwards into the end zone and took a knee, expecting a touchback call from the official. Instead, the referee ruled the play a safety, awarded the Buckeyes two points, and extended Gilmer’s lead to 51-7 at the end of the third quarter.

The Buckeyes added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter when Jeremy Jackson exploded for touchdown runs of 73 and 62 yards in relief of Johnson. Ironically, Jackson finished as the game’s leading rusher, gaining 157 yards on only four carries, while Johnson finished with 148 yards on 7 carries.

Traylor is pleased with the continued development of the sophomore running back. “He’s a great change-of- pace back,” said Traylor of Jackson. “He’s so small and he’s so fast, and Justin is so big and powerful. He’s just a total contrast to Justin. He’s the fastest kid on our team. When he sees that hole, he makes his mind up and he gets it.”

Jackson and Johnson helped the Buckeyes roll up 330 rushing yards on only 23 carries, a statistic that Traylor credits to the rest of the offense. “Our offensive line just dominated their defensive line, and our wide receivers’ blocking effort was amazing,” Traylor exclaimed.

The Buckeyes made the most of their 36 offensive plays, scoring nine touchdowns; seven of which came on drives of two plays or less.

“That has to do with the kind of defense they play,” explained Traylor. “They’re a very aggressive, in your face, everybody in the box, straight man team. So it was going to be a game of big plays.”

Special Teams Players of the Week: Dustin Jones, D.J. Stanley
Bounty Hunter of the Week: D.J. Stanley

STATISTICS

Gilmer Spring Hill
14 First downs 10
9-15-4-0 Passing (c-a-td-int) 9-16-0-1
200 Passing yds 64
23-330 Rushes-yds 40-113
530 Total yds 177
13:42 Time of possession 34:18
7-65 Penalties-yds. 11-46
1 Fumbles lost 2
SCORE BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 T
Gilmer 7 14 30 14 65
SH 0 7 0 0 7



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON races ahead of everyone as he sprints downfield on his longest run of the season, 90 yards to paydirt, in the first half against Spring Hill. After holding a 21-7 lead at halftime, the Buckeyes erupted for 30 points in the third quarter on the way to a 65-7 win Friday to clinch a district title for the seventh consecutive season.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE QUARTERBACK Darian Godfrey carries three Panthers as he picks up a first down on a third quarter drive. Justin Johnson (22) watches the action in the battle of undefeated teams in District 15-3A play.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
FOLLOWING THE BLOCK by Justin Johnson, Devane Clark carries around left end. Clark was one of four Buckeyes to score touchdowns on passes from Darian Godfrey.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Gilmer 65, Spring Hill 7

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes spank Panthers

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Gilmer Erupts In 2nd Half, 65-7

Video highlights:



















Friday, November 02, 2007

Buckeyes travel to Spring Hill for District 15-3A showdown

By JOE DODD

It’s not Christmas yet, but Gilmer Buckeyes head coach Jeff Traylor has a wish list already made out. What do you get for the coach of class 3A’s top offense, averaging 531 yards of total offense and 53 points per game? What do you get for a defense ranked 5th in class 3A allowing only 9 points per game? What do you get for a team averaging a class 3A best 44 point margin of victory per game?

How about a big ball game to prepare for the playoffs? “We have not been challenged this year very much and that concerns me because iron sharpens iron, and I don’t know if we are sharp right now,” Traylor said. “I’m excited about having a big game. I think this is a perfect tune-up for our playoff game.”

The big game Traylor is excited about is Friday’s District 15-3A showdown between the 4th ranked Gilmer Buckeyes (8-0, 3-0) and the Spring Hill Panthers (6-2, 3-0) at Spring Hill’s Panther Stadium. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a big game. I will be interested to see how we’ll rise up and go,” Traylor said.

Arguably the last big game the Buckeyes played in was two months ago in the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic against Tatum. Traylor was pleased with his team’s 71-28 win, but insists that Friday’s game is bigger. “This one means something. Whoever wins this game is leaving with a trophy.”

That would be a district championship trophy, the same trophy that Gilmer has taken home for six straight seasons, all without a loss in district play. The last time the Buckeyes lost a district game was in 2000, Traylor’s first season as Gilmer’s head coach. “If we don’t win it; that’s seven years gone in one night,” warned Traylor.

That district winning streak includes a 21-18 win against Spring Hill in 2001 that Traylor considers to be one of the biggest of his career. “They were undefeated and ranked like third in the state. We were 3-2 and we didn’t know how we were going to try and play with them. Our kids gave an effort like I’d never seen before. It was our first big win for our program.”

Traylor also experienced one of his career lows at the hands of the Panthers in his first season. “It was 28-0 at the end of the first quarter; I’ll never forget it because I remember trying to calculate what 4 times 28 was, and I was thinking 112 points in a game is going to be a lot of points.” Gilmer lost that game 41-21, and Traylor has gone 3-0 against the Panthers since.

Most of those games were close, until last season when Spring Hill suffered a 55-7 beating at Buckeye Stadium. Traylor believes that the Panthers have improved since last year. “Their offense is much better this year,” Traylor said in reference to Spring Hill’s balanced attack that averages 338 yards per game with 173 yards rushing and 165 yards passing.

Traylor credits the Panthers offensive line with the turn around. “Their offensive line is the best line we’ve played so far,” said Traylor, who complemented every lineman, and praised one in particular. “They have a division one offensive lineman in Jordan Henry (6-4, 250). He’s just a great player and a great athlete.”

Henry helps clear the path for junior running back Jake Fudge (5-10, 170), who leads the Panthers with 925 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 166 carries. “Jake Fudge; everybody knows how great Jake is, he can go now,” said Traylor.

Senior quarterback Chris Lee has been equally impressive through the air throwing for 1,154 yards and 10 touchdowns. His primary target has been senior Austin Castleberry who has caught 36 passes for 391 yards and a touchdown.

Panthers’ head coach Robert Bero believes that they can move the ball against the Buckeyes’ defense. “We’re going to try and run the football and mix the throwing game in there,” Bero said. “We’ve had some success throwing the ball down the field this year. We’ve got a controlled passing game, but I think we’ve got the ability to throw the football down the field. If we can protect our quarterback and give him time to throw the football, I feel like we can throw the football pretty well.”

Traylor respects Bero who has a 18-15 record in his third season as the Panthers head coach, after a 92-38-3 record as Longview’s head coach for twelve years. “They’re very well coached,” Traylor said. “Coach Bero has been winning games a long time.”

Bero’s been around long enough to know the challenge facing his Panthers. “It’s going to be a big task for our football team,” said Bero. “We know that Gilmer is an outstanding program, and very well coached, but we’re excited about the possibility to play for a championship.”

According to Bero, the Panthers have an advantage over many teams that the Buckeyes play. “I think some teams are beat before they ever walk on the field against Gilmer, and I don’t think our football team is like that,” Bero said.

“We’re not going to back down from Gilmer. We haven’t backed down from anybody. We played a really good non-district schedule, and our football team has gotten a little bit better each week.”

Spring Hill started the season with an overtime win against Lindale before losing a close game to Daingerfield. The Panthers then won back-to-back games against Pleasant Grove and Chapel Hill before losing their last non-district game to Winnsboro. In district 15-3A play, Spring Hill topped White Oak 23-7, before exploding offensively in a 63-13 win over Gladewater and a 49-14 win over Sabine.

“Just about every game we’ve been in this year has been decided in the fourth quarter except for the last couple of weeks,” said Bero, who explained why he doesn’t want to get in an offensive slug fest with the Buckeyes. “You don’t ever want to get into a scoring match with them because you’re not going to win that type of game.”

Bero said the template for beating Gilmer was partially on display last week. “Mineola did an outstanding job of controlling the football in the first half, but they didn’t score. You’ve got to be able to play some ball control and take some possessions away from Gilmer, but you’ve got to be able to put points on the board.”

Mineola’s ball control offense kept the Buckeyes to a season low 14 points in the first half. That’s a feat Bero hopes the Panthers can repeat. “We better be ready to play early, because one thing Gilmer can do is they can put you away pretty quick, and we realize that so I think our football team is going to be ready to play in the beginning.”

Traylor expects his offense to have a better first half than last week against Mineola, however he doubts it will be able to match last year’s performance against Spring Hill when the Buckeyes rolled up 457 total yards and 41 points behind G.J. Kinne’s 429 yards passing and 5 touchdowns.

Despite those gaudy numbers, Traylor is convinced that, “Their kids believe they can play with us, and that’s half the battle.” And because of that, Traylor promises his team will be ready. “Our kids won’t take them lightly. We’ll get after them.”

“We’ll have our work cut out for us,” Traylor said before referring to his wish list. “We need a crowd. We need a playoff environment Friday night. We need that big game feeling bad.”

Hector’s Wrecker- J.T. Beechum
Black Attack - Dustin Hardin



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S DEVANE CLARK heads upfield on a reverse on the Buckeyes’ first touchdown drive against Mineola.

From the Longview News-Journal:
Panthers take on Buckeyes

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:
GILMER BUCKEYES at SPRING HILL PANTHERS

Buckeyes swat Yellow Jackets, 52-0

By JOE DODD

Mineola head coach Steve Wells knew that his Yellow Jackets had little hope to upset the 4th ranked Gilmer Buckeyes in their 2007 homecoming. “We felt like our only chance was to try to milk the clock and control the football,” Wells said. “You’ve got to take it out of the best offense in the state’s hands, and that’s what we tried to do the first half.”

For the most part they succeeded, as Mineola controlled the clock for almost 18 of 24 first half minutes, amassing 39 offensive plays to the Buckeyes’ 16.

“Mineola came out and did some things we weren’t really prepared for,” admitted Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor. “You’ve got to give their kids credit, they came out and had a good game plan and kept the ball away from us.”

But that’s not how it started, despite Mineola winning the coin toss and electing to receive the opening kickoff. After starting at their own 10-yard line, the Jackets fumbled on the third play and the Buckeyes’ David Smith recovered the loose football at the Mineola 23-yard line with just 54 seconds off the game clock.

Four plays later, facing a 4th-and-2 from the 15-yard line, Gilmer’s Darian Godfrey hit Houston Tuminello for a first down and more, as the senior receiver followed his blockers into the end zone for a touchdown with 9:38 to play in the first quarter. Adan Olivares kicked the first of six extra points for a 7-0 Gilmer lead.

Just as it appeared the Buckeyes were on their way to another fast start, the Jackets’ offense dug in and kept the Buckeyes offense on the bench. Mineola’s next possession only amounted to 16 yards in 5 plays, but it took 3:22 off the clock.

Following a 46-yard punt by the Jackets’ Saul Romero, Gilmer took over at their own 24-yard line. Despite a 30-yard pass from Godfrey to Hunter Harrison, the Buckeyes’ drive stalled at the Mineola 36-yard line, where the Buckeyes faced another 4th down. Needing 6 yards for a first down, Gilmer lined up in punt formation, but snapped the football to up-back Zach Jones, who came up 3 yards short on his run, turning the ball over to Mineola at the Jackets’ 33-yard line.

This time Mineola gained only 27 yards in 10 plays, but managed to eat up 7:03 of clock before punting.

The Buckeyes took over at their own 10-yard line and covered the 90 yards in 6 plays, with Godfrey connecting with Tuminello on a 41-yard pass before Devane Clark ran in for a touchdown from 24 yards out with 7:50 remaining in the half, giving Gilmer a 14-0 advantage.

“Their offensive line is awesome; you can’t get pressure on the quarterback,” Wells said. “We brought every kind of blitz known to man that you can bring in the first half, and we still couldn’t get to him.”

Mineola started their next possession at their own 34-yard line and held on to the football for another 6:11, picking up 32 yard in 12 plays, primarily by the running of senior Cory Jones who finished the game with 124 yards rushing on 31 carries.

The Buckeyes took over possession at their own 34-yard line following an incomplete pass by the Jackets on 4th down. Gilmer traveled down to Mineola’s 10-yard line before lining up for a 27-yard field goal attempt by Dustin Jones. The kick sailed wide with 24 seconds left in the half, leaving the Buckeyes with their smallest halftime lead of the season.

“I could tell that they were not pleased with their performance,” Traylor said, of his team at intermission. “They were pretty determined to come out in that third quarter and make a statement.”

And what a statement it was. After an ill-advised onside kick by the Jackets was recovered by Tuminello at the Buckeyes’ 46-yard line, senior Justin Johnson took the handoff and raced 54 yards for a touchdown just 11 seconds into the second half. The Buckeyes then converted the 2-point attempt on a pass from Braylon Webb to Ross Stevens for a 22-0 lead.

“We knew that we needed to score on that opening drive,” Traylor stated. “If we wouldn’t have scored and we had to punt to them, and if they would have had another time-consuming drive, then you’ve got a ball game.”

Tuminello was never concerned about that happening. “We knew that our offense was going to get the job done. Our defense stepped it up in the second half and made the stops that got us on the field more.”

The first stop that Gilmer’s Black Flag Defense made was when Clark intercepted one of only four Mineola passes three plays later, returning the ball to the Buckeyes’ offense at the Gilmer 40-yard line.

Five plays later, Godfrey rolled to his right and connected with a diving Paul Chesnut for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 8:25 to play in the third quarter, giving the Buckeyes a 29-0 lead.

“The dam just kind of burst the second half,” Wells lamented as his Jackets were held to a three-and-out on their next series before Gilmer traveled 75 yards in 7 plays on their next possession, finishing the drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Godfrey to Tuminello for a 36-0 lead with 3:51 remaining in the third quarter.

“I definitely look for the end zone a lot more than I used to,” said Tuminello, the senior transfer who had his first multiple touchdown game for the Buckeyes, after averaging 20 touchdowns and 94 receptions the previous two years. “I try to get into the end zone every time I get the ball because we’ve got tons of play makers on the field, so you’re going to have to split some touchdowns with other players.” Gilmer’s play makers took advantage of another 3-play series on Mineola’s next possession, taking over at their own 31-yard line following another Jackets’ punt. On the very next play, Johnson took the handoff and went 69 yards for his second touchdown of the night, pushing the Buckeyes’ lead to 43-0 with 57 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Johnson finished with 184 yards rushing on only 8 carries. Gilmer’s defense continued their second-half domination on the next Mineola series when Dustin Jones blitzed from his cornerback position, just in time for a Jackets’ fumble to roll on the ground in front of him. Jones said he had only one thing on his mind when he saw the football on the ground, “Scoop and score,” said the senior who just returned from an early-season injury. “I saw somebody behind me so I just fell on it.”

That fumble recovery was icing on the cake for Traylor, who saw Mineola’s average drive start at their own 22-yard line, thanks to Jones’ booming kickoffs. “I’m just glad for him,” Traylor said. “He’s worked so hard. I’m glad he’s back.” The Buckeyes failed to capitalize on Jones’ fumble recovery, but Johnson’s backup, Jeremy Jackson provided another hilite reel run on Gilmer’s next possession. Running to his right, the sophomore back broke a couple of tackles and was off to the races, scoring from 44 yards out with 5:51 to go in the game.

Gilmer’s defense finished the scoring on Mineola’s last series, forcing a fumble on the first play and watching the football roll out the back of the end zone for a safety and 52-0 lead with 5:36 to play.

The Buckeyes received the Mineola kick following the safety and drove the football down to the Jackets’ 1-yard line before lining up in victory formation to end the game with a kneel-down, however the snap was fumbled and Mineola recovered the ball and took a knee to end the game.

Traylor was realistic following the game. “We got it done, and that’s what important. But we have a lot to improve on; that was not a playoff effort.”

Mineola’s Wells had a different take on the game. “In my opinion they’ll probably win the division one state championship.”

Traylor replied to Wells’ comment with caution. “We know we’re not what people think we are; but we’re a good football team with a bunch of really great kids.”

Special Teams Player of the Week- Dustin Jones
Bounty Hunter of the Week - Vance Green

STATISTICS

Mineola Gilmer
9 First downs 19
1-4-0-1 Passing(c-a-td-int) 15-26-3-0
7 Passing yds 255
45-129 Rushes-yds 24-322
136 Total yds 577
29:55 Time of possession 18:05
4-19 Penalties-yds. 6-45
2 Fumbles lost 1

SCORE BY QUARTERS

1 2 3 4 T
Mineola 0 0 0 0 0
Gilmer 7 7 29 9 52



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
HOUSTON TUMINELLO scores another TD on a 23-yard reception from Darian Godfrey.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S JUSTIN Johnson follows a block to gain first down yardage last Friday night during a 52-0 win over Mineola here last Friday night.



Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S BLACK FLAG ‘D’ notched another shutout last Friday night at Buckeye Stadium with hot pursuit and gang-tackling on plays like this. The Buckeyes won, 52-0, over Mineola, to remain undefeated at 8-0 overall and 3-0 in District 15-3A play.