Sunday, December 23, 2007

We love you all
Way to go, Buckeyes,
and thanks for the memories

Congratulations to the Gilmer Buckeyes for all the thrills and excitement you’ve given us this season. It was truly awesome!

We know it must be disappointing to have come up short in Waco on Saturday against the Liberty Hill Panthers (to whom we also extend kudos), but remember that you accomplished what only a handful of football teams in Texas did.

And that is to still be playing, not only in December, but in the middle of December.

A school is the heart and soul of any small community such as ours. The spirit our Gilmer Independent School District expresses for us, not only in football, but in numerous other activities on campus and in the community, keeps us all young at heart and inspired in our souls. And this is true of the other school districts of our area as well.

Many of us in this community are also graduates of your school. We, too, were raised as Buckeyes. Very few of us ever experienced the “glory days” you have. We are in awe. The memories you have created for us, to put it in the words of our school song, “will live forever.”

None will be any more inspiring than the class, character, poise and maturity you displayed after the game in Mesquite on the night of Saturday, Dec. 1. It was awe-inspiring, as a matter of fact.

Merry Christmas to all Gilmer Buckeyes in every field of endeavor, both on and off the gridiron. Peace and love to all.

Tuminello recognized

Friday, December 21, 2007

Buckeyes fall to Liberty Hill Panthers in championship game


For the first three-and-a-half minutes of Saturday's Class 3A Division I State Championship game it appeared that the Gilmer Buckeyes were on their way to their second title in four years. For the final 44-and-a-half minutes the Liberty Hill Panthers showed why they have won 24 games in a row including their second straight state championship game with a 38-13 win over the Buckeyes.

Gilmer's Justin Johnson took the opening kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead with only 14 seconds off the clock. Then the Gilmer defense held the Panthers to 25 yards on 5 plays, forcing Liberty Hill to punt for only the 15th time all season.

From that point on it was all Panthers, as Liberty Hill's defense held the Buckeyes' offense to a season-low 135 total yards while the Panthers offense rolled up 354 yards and 6 touchdowns rushing.

“They just outplayed us,” admitted senior receiver Lamar Harris who scored the Buckeyes only offensive touchdown on a 35-yard reception in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes entered the game with the top offense in the state, averaging 497.5 yards and 49.2 points per game, but with wind gusting throughout the game at 27 miles per hour and sophomore quarterback Darian “Stump” Godfrey playing with a dislocated thumb, Gilmer's offense could never crank in the subfreezing wind chill.

“Obviously the wind was a huge factor, but I think more than that, Stump's thumb injury was tough on him. He just couldn't catch a snap and I feel bad for him,” said Buckeyes' head coach Jeff Traylor, who refused to excuse the loss to the wind and Godfrey's injury.

“We thought we had a good plan; we just didn't execute it very well,” said Traylor, who saw his record fall to 85-15 in his eight seasons at Gilmer. “We dropped the very first snap and three-and-outed and then punted into that wind.”

Gilmer's first punt gave Liberty Hill the football at the Buckeyes' 49-yard line. Three plays later the Panthers Dustin Gonzales scored from 11 yards out with 6:35 to play in the first quarter. Craig Havens extra point attempt sailed wide left preserving the Buckeyes' lead at 7-6.

Gilmer's next three possessions all ended on failed fourth down attempts by the Buckeyes. The first failed attempt gave the Panthers the football at the Gilmer 41-yard line after Johnson was stopped for no gain on a 4th-and-3.

Five plays later, Gonzales scored from 31 yards out giving Liberty Hill a 12-7 lead with 3:24 remaining in the first quarter. The Panthers two-point conversion attempt was stopped by Gilmer's defense.

The Buckeyes gave the football back to the Panthers four plays later when Godfrey was thrown for a 5-yard loss on a 4th-and-1 play at Gilmer's own 32-yard line.

It took the Panthers six plays to cover the distance, but Liberty Hill scored on a Doug Allman 4-yard run with 11:35 to go in the second quarter. Once again the Buckeyes' defense stopped the Panthers' two-point conversion, making the score 18-7.

Johnson sparked the Buckeyes again, returning the kickoff 25 yards to the Gilmer 43-yard line, only to go unused in the series, as Gilmer threw the ball on 7 consecutive plays before Jeremy Jackson came up 6 yards short on a 4th-and-10 reception at the Liberty Hill 27-yard line. The Buckeyes' defense rose to the challenge on the Panthers' next possession, forcing another punt just 4 plays later, returning the football to the Buckeyes' offense at their own 47-yard line with 8:59 to play in the first half.

This time the Buckeyes managed to convert a 4th-and-4 when Godfrey connected with Tuminello for an 8-yard gain at the Panthers' 39-yard line. A 5-yard penalty against Liberty Hill's defense moved the Buckeyes to the Panthers' 34-yard line, but on the next play Godfrey's handoff to Johnson ended up on the ground and the Panthers' Marlowe Poitier recovered the fumble at the Liberty Hill 32-yard line with 7:16 remaining in the half.

Gonzales scored his third touchdown of the first half on the next play when the senior running back ran to his left only to run into two Buckeyes' defenders. Gonzales broke free from the two defenders, reversed field to the right, picked up a nice block and raced 62 yards untouched down the Buckeyes' sideline with 7:01 left on the first half clock. Havens’ extra point kick was good, giving Liberty Hill a 25-7 lead.

Despite having trailed in each of their four playoff wins, the Buckeyes looked shell-shocked and responded as such, gaining no yards on their next three plays before punting the football back to the Panthers with 6:14 to play in the half.

Liberty Hill proceeded on an 8-play drive that ate up 5:38 off the clock. But the Panthers gave the Buckeyes a ray of hope on a 4th-and-1 play when Allman burst through the middle for a 5-yard gain then fumbled the football forward to Gilmer's Paul Chesnut who picked up the loose ball at the 37-yard line and returned it to the Panthers' 24-yard line with 1:39 remaining in the half.

The Panthers were flagged for a flagrant face mask penalty on the play, so the Buckeyes got the ball at the Liberty Hill 12-yard line for a chance to cut the Panthers' lead and gain momentum before halftime.

But once again the Buckeyes' offense couldn't convert a 4th-and- 2 attempt from the 4-yard line, as Johnson was stuffed in the backfield for a loss of a yard, returning the football to Liberty Hill with 28 seconds left on the clock.

“We still had our chances,” confirmed Traylor. “We just couldn't execute on offense. That's it in a nutshell.”

The Buckeyes never gave up and continued to manufacture opportunities in the second half, including an onside kick of the opening kickoff that bounced off the chest of a Liberty Hill player and was recovered by Gilmer's Braylon Webb at the Panthers' 46-yard line.

Inspired by the success of the onside kick, the Buckeyes' offense converted only their second 4th down of the game when Jeremy Jackson gained 2 yards on a 4th-and-1 from the Panthers' 37-yard line. On the next play, Godfrey hit Harris in stride with the touchdown pass. Gilmer's two-point attempt failed, but the Buckeyes had cut the Liberty Hill lead to 25-13 with 10:21 to play in the third quarter.

“Stump is a great player. For him to lead us to the state championship game is amazing. It's been an honor to play with him,” Harris said.

Liberty Hill responded with a 12-play, 66-yard scoring drive that took 5:38 off the clock. Allman collected his second touchdown of the game with his run from 4 yards out to push the Panthers' lead to 32-13 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.

On the Buckeyes' next series, Gilmer's offense advanced to the Liberty Hill 25-yard line thanks to a couple of defensive penalties, but on 4th-and-7, Godfrey's pass to Harris fell incomplete, turning the ball over to the Panthers.

The Buckeyes' defense held the Panthers to only 18 yards in 5 plays, forcing Liberty Hill's third punt of the game and giving Gilmer the football at their own 17-yard line.

The Buckeyes' offense continued its fourth down struggles on the next series. Facing a 4th-and-12 at their own 28-yard line, Gilmer was flagged for an offensive penalty and pushed back five yards. Godfrey's pass attempt on the next play was incomplete, and the Panthers took possession of the football at the Buckeyes' 23-yard line.

Liberty Hill covered the 23 yards in 8 plays, finishing the scoring with a 6-yard run by Clint Gavin with 3:39 remaining in the game. Havens’ extra-point kick was no good, leaving the score 38-13; the worst loss of Traylor's career.

“I knew they were that good, I just thought we could score with them,” said Traylor. “I think our defense did all that they could do; we just needed to score with them and we just couldn't.”

The Panthers put the exclamation point on the victory with the recovery of another Buckeyes' fumble at the Gilmer 16-yard line with 2:18 to play. After picking up a first down, the Panthers mercifully ran the remaining time off the clock and celebrated their second consecutive title. “We're proud of our season, but right now we're awfully disappointed,” Traylor said.

“I'm disappointed, but we had a good run,” said senior linebacker Brennan Thompson. “We're real proud that we're here and had an opportunity to be here for two years out of our four years.”

“It's really not so hard on me now because I feel like I left it all out there on the field and I know that my teammates did too,” said Harris. “They just outplayed us.”

Godfrey, who was scheduled to undergo surgery on his thumb this week, said that this season was a learning experience for him. “I know what to do to get here; I've just got to work harder to win here.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN JOHNSON bursts into the clear on the opening kick off as the Liberty Hill kicker Craig Havens tries to stop his dash to the end zone. Johnson stepped out of his and two other tackle attempts and put the Buckeyes ahead 7-0. The Panthers came back with four unanswered touchdowns in the first half and won the state championship game, 38-13.
Photo Gallery: Gilmer vs. Liberty Hill (UIL 3A D1 Final)

Iris Images Gallery

Photos by Ruel Gallery

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Buckeyes face challenge against Liberty Hill in state championship game


The offenses of the Gilmer Buckeyes and Liberty Hill Panthers featured in Saturday’s Class 3A Division I championship game could not be more different, despite the two teams’ almost mirror-image production.

No matter which team receives the opening kickoff slated for 4 p.m. at Baylor University’s Floyd Casey Stadium, fans will be treated to one of the state’s premier offensive machines.

Gilmer’s spread offense is averaging a state best 49.2 points per game, while racking up 497.5 total yards per game. Liberty Hills’ wing-t offense is averaging 46.5 points and 477.9 yards per game.

“It’s going to be a great matchup of two different styles of offense,” predicted Liberty Hill head coach Jerry Vance, whose team is riding a 23-game winning streak and attempting to defend last season’s state title.

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor agreed. “In the state of Texas, you couldn’t have one drawn it up any better. It’s an incredible matchup.”

Traylor’s spread offense averages almost 302 yards rushing and 196 yards passing per game in an offense that has seen the Buckeyes average almost 33 rushes and 21 passes per game.

Vance’s wing-t offense averages 478 yards per game, with almost all of that coming on the ground. In fact, the Panthers average almost 54 rushes per game while throwing only 34 passes all season.

“It starts with their offense, marveled Traylor. “There’s no way I can describe it; you’ll have to come to the game to see it. It’s really indescribable because you don’t see anything like that any more.”

The wing-t offense was popular about 40 years ago, but with only a handful of programs employing it today, it is a novelty. “It’s just so different,” Traylor said. “It’s kind of like we used to be in the spread and we were one of the only ones who did it, and we were so different we had a tremendous advantage.”

“They’re smart because they’re doing something that nobody sees; so they have a great advantage there,” Traylor added.

Vance said the reason the Panthers run the wing-t offense is not that complicated. “That’s what I grew up with,” admitted Vance. “When I got into coaching that’s what everybody was running. That’s what I’m comfortable with, that’s what I know. I’m too close to retirement to change and do the fancy stuff.”

Why would he? Since 2001 when Vance arrived in Liberty Hill, the Panthers are 74-17, including a 20-4 record in the playoffs. “Ours is kind of a brand new offense, especially for a lot of young coaches who have never seen this type of thing,” explained Vance.

But Vance said that his wing-t offense shares the same goal as Gilmer’s spread offense. “Our philosophy is not any different than those [teams] in the spread,” insisted Vance. “They want to get the ball to their skill kids as quickly as possible and let them do what they do best. Then if somebody misses a tackle; they go the distance. And that’s much the same way as ours. We’re going to get the ball into the hands of our best kids, and if we get three or four yards we’re happy. And if you miss a tackle, maybe we’ll get more.”

The Panthers and Buckeyes both have skill players that have put up amazing numbers this season. Liberty Hill’s Dustin Gonzalez has 2,139 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns on only 155 carries. Gilmer’s Justin Johnson has 2,160 yards and 25 touchdowns on 191 carries.

The Panthers also boast a 1,689-yard rusher in Doug Allman who has 28 touchdowns on 258 carries. The Buckeyes counter with sophomore quarterback Darian Godfrey who has 2,617 passing yards with 37 touchdown passes to go along with his 613 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.

Godfrey’s two favorite targets through the air have been Houston Tuminello with 951 yards and 15 touchdowns and Lamar Harris with 687 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Traylor and Vance agree that both offenses’ success can be attributed to their talented offensive lines. “Their line is as good as our line,” said Traylor. “And I think our line is the best in the state of Texas so I think you’re going to see the two best offensive lines in the state of Texas battle each other this week.”

When you add it all up, the two teams are averaging 95.7 points and 928.6 yards per game. So what role will the defenses play in this championship matchup?

“Our defense is going to have to have a mindset this week that is just totally different,” admitted Traylor. “It is going to be a battle of absolute will. At some point they think you’re going to say, I surrender. Our defense has just got to be so physical, and just hang in there and keep battling.”

Vance assigns the same importance to the defensive battle. “I think it’s going to come down to the defenses, and who can slow whoever down.”

Just like the two offenses, the Buckeyes and Panthers defenses have very similar numbers. Gilmer allows an average of 14.9 points per game while Liberty Hill has given up 14.2 points per game. The Buckeyes have held opponents to 233 total yards per game, while the Panthers have been a little stingier, allowing an average under 193 yards per game.

While the offenses and defenses appear equal on paper, Traylor hopes that the Buckeyes’ grueling playoff schedule will give them an edge over the Panthers. “In my opinion we’ve already beaten three great teams, and the 2004 state championship team beat two great teams,” said Traylor.

The Buckeyes’ four playoff wins have been by a total of 35 points, while the Panthers’ four playoff wins have been by an average of 33 points. “That’s always a concern of mine,” admitted Vance. “I think championship teams are put into the fire, and how they respond determines the championship. I think playing the close games that Gilmer has done is a great advantage for them.”

Buckeyes’ senior offensive lineman David Snow confirmed that Gilmer’s three fourth-quarter comeback wins in the playoffs were important. “It just instills a lot of confidence that we can get it done in the fourth quarter.”

“There’s something about this team,” said Traylor. “People can call us lucky or whatever they want to call us. This team just puts out a good karma; there’s something about these seniors.”

One of those seniors, Lamar Harris, said that this game is the culmination of six years of work. “It means a lot because we’ve been working on this since we were in seventh grade. Coach Traylor always said we were going to go to state and win it for him,” Harris said.

Traylor has a lot of faith in his seniors, despite being 7-point underdogs to the Panthers. “I can see why they are the number one ranked team in the state. I can see why everybody thinks they’re going to beat us. I can see that,” stated Traylor. “But we have a great team too, we don’t consider ourselves to be underdogs to anybody.”

Traylor had a simple message for his seniors this week. “This is the last week we’re ever going to coach them,” Traylor said. “Let’s go out and have a great week of practice. Let’s not have one negative play. Let’s have smiles on our faces. Let’s don’t worry, and enjoy this. Then go play your hearts out Saturday. Enjoy every bit of it.”

“We know we’re going to have to play a lot better next week than we did this week,” agreed senior receiver Houston Tuminello. “I think we’re going to be completely focused; have our best week of practice and come out next week and execute plays.”
“We’re excited to be there,” promised Traylor. “But we’re nowhere near satisfied.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE DEFENDERS Braylon Webb, Paul Chesnut and Tristan Holt celebrate with Lamar Harris, center, as his game-ending interception as time ran out clinched Gilmer semifinal victory over Abilene Wylie last Saturday night in North Richland Hills.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S JUSTIN JOHNSON looks for an opening in the Bulldog defense Saturday night in the win over Abilene Wylie.

Game Notes

• This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
• This is Gilmer’s 27th playoff appearance, including 7 straight.
• This is Liberty Hill’s 10th playoff appearance, including 6 straight.
• Gilmer has a 42-19-1 record in 62 playoff games with 3 appearances in the state championship game (1981, 2004, 2007) and one state championship (2004).
• Liberty Hill has a 21-8-1 record in 30 playoff games with 2 appearances in the state championship game (2006 and 2007) and one state championship (2006).
• Liberty Hill has won 23 games in a row.
• Gilmer has won 24 out of its last 25 games.
• Both Gilmer and Liberty Hill’s previous state championships came in Class 3A Division II.
• Liberty Hill began the season as the No. 1-ranked Class 3A team in the Associated Press poll.
• Gilmer began the season ranked No. 7.
• This will be Gilmer’s second visit to Floyd Casey Stadium. The Buckeyes lost to Cameron Yoe 26-3 in the 1981 state championship game played at Floyd Casey Stadium.
• Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor is 85-14 in 8 seasons at Gilmer, including a 14-5 playoff record in 7 appearances. This will be Coach Traylor’s 100th game as Gilmer’s head coach.
• Liberty Hill head coach Jerry Vance is 74-17 in 7 seasons at Liberty Hill, including a 20-4 playoff record in 6 appearances.
• Gilmer has missed the playoffs once in Jeff Traylor’s 8 seasons.
• Liberty Hill has missed the playoffs once in Jerry Vance’s 7 seasons.
• In the last 5 seasons, Gilmer is 63-4 with 2 state championship game appearances.
• In the last 5 seasons, Liberty Hill is 60-10 with 2 state championship game appearances.
• Gilmer’s senior class has a 50-3 record and 1 state championship.
• Liberty Hill’s senior class has a 49-8 record and 1 state championship.
• Liberty Hill is located in Williamson County 30 miles NW of Austin.
• Liberty Hill’s estimated population as of July 2006 was 1,510.
• Gilmer’s estimated population as of July 2006 was 5,143.
• Liberty Hill is Gilmer’s first opponent in the 2007 playoffs which reported a lower high school enrollment (599) than Gilmer’s (668.5) as of the last UIL realignment.
• Liberty Hill is Gilmer’s first opponent in the 2007 playoffs with a higher ranking in the polls than that of Gilmer.
• Liberty Hill’s Marlowe Poitier is the second cousin of actor Sidney Poitier.
• Gilmer’s 689 points scored in 14 games this season is a school record, surpassing the 665 points scored in 16 games during the 2004 season.
• Gilmer needs 337 total yards to surpass the school’s single-season record of 7,301 total yards gained in 16 games during the 2004 season.
• Gilmer’s Justin Johnson needs 3 rushing touchdowns to surpass the school’s single-season record of 27 set by Derek McKenzie in 2003.
• Gilmer’s Houston Tuminello needs 49 receiving yards to reach at least 1,000 yards for the 3rd straight season.
• Gilmer’s Jeremy Jackson needs 182 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
• Liberty Hill is predominantly a running team on offense, utilizing the Wing T (aka “Slot T”) formation.
• Gilmer is more balanced between running and passing, utilizing the spread offense/shotgun formation.
• For the second week in a row, Gilmer is facing a team whose school colors are purple and gold.
• Liberty Hill is the second team identifying with Panthers and the third team named after a cat the Buckeyes have played in the playoffs. The other two opponents’ mascots were a dog and a pony; thus, the Buckeyes have helped prevent the Class 3A Division I state championship game from being just another “dog and pony” show.

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Last-chance touchdown gives Buckeyes victory over Abilene Wylie


After watching his defense turn back Abilene Wylie for the second time in less than two minutes despite being deep inside Gilmer territory, Buckeyes’ head coach Jeff Traylor was left with a choice when his offense was given the football at their own 36-yard line with the score tied 21-21.

“I had a decision because I had 34 seconds and 3 timeouts; whether to just go to overtime or not,” explained Traylor. “And true to who we are, we decided we were going to go try to score with 34 seconds left and the kids responded.”

Senior wide receiver Lamar Harris rewarded his coach’s faith with a spectacular 34-yard touchdown on an underneath pass route with 9 seconds on the clock to give the Buckeyes a dramatic 28-21 win over the Bulldogs, and a berth in the Class 3A Division I state championship game.

“We knew they were going to drop back, and we just guessed right,” conceded Traylor. “We talked to our receivers about down-field blocks and sure enough, down-field blocks is what got it done. It was just a great job by Lamar, and the receivers and line blocking the play.”

Harris’ touchdown capped a furious comeback for Gilmer, who trailed 21-14 entering the fourth quarter, despite cruising to a 14-0 lead with 3:17 to play in the first quarter. “We got our first 14 a little easier than our last 14,” said a relieved Traylor.

The Buckeyes started the game with a 16-play 82-yard drive that took 6:21 off the clock before Darian Godfrey found Houston Tuminello in the end zone from 4-yards out, giving Gilmer a 7-0 lead on a fantastic catch from the senior receiver, and the extra- point kick from Adan Olivares.

Three plays later, Buckeyes’ sophomore Paul Chesnut intercepted a Jared Wallace pass at his own 42-yard line and returned it to the Bulldogs 29-yard line. Two plays later Godfrey hooked up with Tuminello again, this time on a spectacular falling down catch by Tuminello for a 29-yard touchdown and 14-0 Gilmer lead less than 9 minutes into the game.

“We came out with two big touchdowns and we kind of relaxed,” stated Godfrey, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Even Harris admitted that he didn’t expect to provide the game winning touchdown. “At first I thought we were going to blow them out, but then things just started going bad.”

Despite the Bulldogs turning the ball over on downs at Gilmer’s 26-yard line, the Buckeyes couldn’t take advantage of the defensive stop when Justin Johnson fumbled the football back to Abilene Wylie three plays later at the Buckeyes’ 46-yard line.

With the Bulldogs at Gilmer’s 25-yard line, Chesnut once again provided an out for the Buckeyes’ when he picked off his second pass at the 2-yard line and returned it to the 13-yard line with 5:34 remaining in the half.

The next play started a downward spiral the Buckeyes couldn’t get out of until the fourth quarter. Scrambling backwards under heavy pressure, Godfrey was hit by two Bulldogs’ defenders near the goal line. The football popped free and Wylie linebacker Trevor Casey fell on the ball in the end zone. Despite Gilmer coaches and fans arguing that Godfrey’s arm was moving forward, the officials ruled the play a fumble and rewarded the Bulldogs with a touchdown, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 14-7 with 5:23 to play in the half.

Inspired by their defensive touchdown, the Bulldogs held Gilmer’s offense to only 26 yards on the Buckeyes’ next series, forcing a Jake Ashley punt from the Bulldogs 48-yard line.

Ashley’s punt pinned Wylie at their own 13-yard line, and once again the Buckeyes’ Black Flag Defense rose to the occasion, forcing their third turnover of the first half when the Bulldogs’ Cameron Rogers fumbled and Gilmer sophomore linebacker Vance Green recovered the football at the Abilene Wylie 23-yard line with 58 seconds left in the half.

The Bulldogs’ defense rescued Abilene Wylie again when Johnson’s fourth down run came up short and Wylie took over on downs at their own 16-yard line with 28 seconds to go until halftime.

Content in trailing by seven points despite only 79 yards of total offense, the Bulldogs took a knee to run the clock out and go into the locker room trailing 14-7.

Traylor said that he focused on the positive at half-time. “We played bad last week in the first half and we were down seven. This week we played bad and we were up seven,” stated Traylor.

The Buckeyes’ 7-point lead didn’t last long, as the Bulldogs took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards in 8 plays, scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Wallace with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter. Bryce Channell’s extra-point kick tied the score at 14.

“We had to come out and stop them in the opening drive,” said Traylor. “Well we didn’t do that. We knew then that momentum was gone.”

“Our kids hung in there and played hard,” said Abilene Wylie head coach Hugh Sandifer. “Gilmer’s got such a good football team that we had to battle back and find a way and we kind of got the momentum going.”

The Buckeyes’ offense remained stuck in neutral on its first series of the second half when Devane Clark fumbled the hand-off exchange with Godfrey on a wide receiver sweep, recovering the loose ball but losing 3 yards. Two plays later Godfrey threw his first interception in nine games, giving Abilene Wylie the football at Gilmer’s 28-yard line.

Four plays later, the Bulldogs’ Cameron Rogers scored from 11 yards out, giving Abilene Wylie a 21-14 lead with 6:09 to play in the third quarter. “Second half I thought we did some things better,” Sandifer said. “We played with more confidence; we played on a short field a couple of times, so we kind of had it going our way.”

“When they pulled ahead of us I told our kids, they think we’re going to go away, and that’s what they’re not used to, because we’re not going to go away,” said Traylor.

Despite Traylor’s admonishment to his team, the Buckeyes’ offense still sputtered on their next series, starting with a 5-yard penalty and ending with a failed fourth-down attempt that gave the football back to the Bulldogs at Gilmer’s own 45-yard line.

The Buckeyes’ defense came to the rescue again, forcing Wylie backwards 4 yards before the Bulldogs punted 4 plays later, returning the ball to the Buckeyes’ offense at the Gilmer 20-yard line.

This time the Buckeyes’ offense put together an impressive 80-yard drive in 8 plays, tying the score on Johnson’s 7-yard run with 11:46 to go in the fourth quarter. “It was a hard game. Their front seven were really good; it was just a battle all night long,” said senior offensive tackle David Snow, who helped the Buckeyes offense pound out 192 rushing yards in the game.

The Bulldogs’ looked ready to answer the Buckeyes’ score right away when Rogers returned the kick into Gilmer territory at the 47-yard line. 12 plays later, Wylie had a 1st-and-goal at the Buckeyes’ 2-yard line. That is when the Black Flag Defense drew their line in the sand. “Jonathan Rockwell made a huge play on the goal line where he just knocked the center backwards on first down; that was a big play. Then Paul Chesnut came back on second down and made a big play,” praised Traylor.

Two plays later the Bulldogs’ Channell lined up for a 25-yard field goal attempt that would have given Abilene Wylie the lead, but the kick veered to the left and the Buckeyes’ took over the football at the 20-yard line with 3:53 to play in the game.

On the Buckeyes’ second play of the possession, Godfrey was sacked for a 19-yard loss back to Gilmer’s own 5-yard line. On the next play, Godfrey tried to hit Harris down the left sideline, but the senior receiver tripped and fell down, allowing Wylie’s Matt Field to intercept the pass and return it to the Buckeyes’ 33-yard line with 2:22 left on the clock.

Once again, Wylie was pushed backwards by the Buckeyes’ defense, losing 4 yards and turning the ball over on downs at Gilmer’s 36-yard line. “The defense played as good as I’ve ever seen them play. They were just relentless, and never would stop,” exclaimed Traylor, who hailed the defense for holding the Bulldogs to only 215 total yards for the game.

“It feels great,” said senior linebacker Brennan Thompson, who finished with 13 tackles and 1 quarterback sack. “We talked about it all week, that we would have to have our best game to win this game.”

“It was just a hard fought win,” said Chesnut, who had 4 tackles and a sack to go with his 2 interceptions. “We kind of struggled on offense and defense, but we fought through and we did it.”

Gilmer’s defensive play set up the Buckeyes’ last-minute heroics. Godfrey started it with a 32-yard gain on a quarterback draw, before throwing the game-winning pass to Harris two plays later. “He’s an amazing competitor,” said Traylor of Godfrey. “His will- power is so strong; our offense just feeds off of him.”

Harris had his own motivation for wanting the ball in his hands at the end of the game. “I really let them down the first time because I caught a screen pass but I didn’t get the extra yards and we turned the ball over. So, I thought if he throws it to me again, I’ve got to score a touchdown,” said Harris.

That thought became a reality once Harris made the first defender miss and turned up field to see who was blocking for him. “I just saw Bus [Justin Johnson] in front of me and I thought there is no way I’m not getting into the end zone with Bus in front of me. He threw a heck of a block and put me into the end zone.”

“We had some chances at the end and it didn’t go our way and Gilmer made some plays and won the game. We wish them all the best and hope they win it all,” said Sandifer, who admitted that the high stakes made the outcome more difficult to bear. “We knew we were playing to play for a championship next week. And when you get this close to play for it all, it hurts. We both have tasted that and we know how hard it is to get there, so it is a tough loss.”

Traylor empathized with his opponent. “We know how they feel. We’ve felt that way the last two years,” said Traylor, who thanked the Bulldogs for their sportsmanship. “I can’t say enough great things about Hugh Sandifer, Abilene Wylie’s fans, Abilene Wylie’s players, everything about Abilene Wylie. I was impressed as I’ve ever been.”

But Traylor saved his greatest accolades for the Black Flag unit. “They were the difference in the ball game. Our defense was just fantastic. They are the reason we’re still playing.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE DEFENDERS swarm to the loose pigskin after Wylie’s Cameron Rogers fumbled in the semifinal game between Gilmer and Abilene Wylie. Gilmer’s Braylon Webb, Damien Redditt, Brennan Thompson, Ross Stevens, Cody Kern and Vance Green dive after the ball. Green came up with the turnover.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S PAUL CHESNUT grabs an interception off Wylie QB Jared Wallace in the second quarter to stop a drive.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Coming up

Gilmer Buckeyes vs.
Liberty Hill Panthers
Saturday, December 15, 4 p.m.
Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco

This will be for the state championship
in Class 3A Division I

The Buckeyes are the visiting team and will wear white.

Floyd Casey Stadium

Pleasanton's season comes crashing to a halt

Blog from Alamodome

Liberty Hill back in title game

Statesman - Liberty Hill Panthers

Navasota's postseason run ended by Liberty Hill

Liberty Hill machine rolls Robinson in bi-district, 42-14

Doug Allman - Hidden Gem

Faces Off the Field: Liberty Hill's Marlowe Poitier, John Miller

Liberty Hill handles Gatesville

Liberty Hill looking to dominate 3A
Some of the assumptions in this preseason article proved invalid as Liberty Hill went into Division I rather than II, once the playoff picture became clear.

Liberty Hill Varsity

Liberty Hill offense in action

Gilmer Statistics:

Rushing: 428 att - 1927 yds | 137.6 yds/g (4.5 yds/car)
Passing: 124 - 248 - 1358 yds | 97.0 yds/g
Total: 676 - 3285 yds | 234.6 yds/g

Rushing: 455 att - 4225 yds | 301.8 yds/g (9.3 yds/car)
Passing: 187 - 287 - 2740 yds | 195.0 yds/g
Total: 742 - 6965 yds | 497.5 yds/g

Liberty Hill Statistics:

Rushing: 281 att - 831 yds | 63.9 yds/g (2.5 yds/car)
Passing: 160 - 308 - 1674 yds | 128.77 yds/g
Total: 635 - 2505 yds | 192.7 yds/g

Rushing: 697 att - 5605 yds | 431.2 yds/g (8.04 yds/car)
Passing: 16 - 34 - 607 yds | 46.7 yds/g
Total: 731 - 6212 yds | 477.8 yds/g

Statistics courtesy of 'Panther One' on 3A Down Low

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gilmer Buckeyes face Abilene Wylie Bulldogs tonight


When the Gilmer Buckeyes (13-0) and Abilene Wylie Bulldogs (11-2) kick off at 6 p.m. at Birdville ISD Stadium in North Richland Hills, it will be the first-ever meeting between two of the best programs in Class 3A.

Since 2000, the Buckeyes and Bulldogs have combined for 168 wins, 5 semifinal appearances, and 2 state championships. “I think it’s a huge marquee match-up to get two schools that have a state championship at their school to meet each other in the state semifinals,” said Abilene Wylie head coach Hugh Sandifer, who is 188-74-1 in 22 seasons as the Bulldogs head coach.

Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who is 84-14 in eight seasons at Gilmer, is thrilled to have his program compared to Abilene Wylie. “We’ve been good for seven,” admitted Traylor. “They’ve been good for 14 years in a row. That’s the difference; they’ve been doing it longer.”

Traylor is referring to the Bulldogs’ Class 3A-best streak of 14 consecutive playoff appearances. “They are one of the best programs in the state of Texas,” praised Traylor, who enters the game with a 13-5 career record in playoff games.

Sandifer was quick to return the praise. “I consider Gilmer one of the premier programs in the 2000s. They’ve been one of the best,” stated Sandifer, who is 30-15-1 in 17 playoff appearances.

That means a lot to Traylor, who said, “In my profession, he’s one of the very best. He’s one of the big ones.”

Sandifer ranks second among Class 3A coaches in wins, but his winning percentage of 72 trails Traylor’s 86 percent.

“I can see Gilmer’s doing the same thing with Coach Traylor,” said Sandifer. “He’s obviously got a very impressive record, but more importantly they’ve got good football teams that play the right way.”

The right way doesn’t necessarily mean that the Buckeyes and Bulldogs play the same way. While Gilmer is committed to the spread offense and ‘50’ defense, Abilene Wylie is a chameleon.

“They’re in the spread, they’re in the I, they’re under center; they’re much more multiple than we are,” marveled Traylor. “We try to be very multiple by formations and motion,” agreed Sandifer of his offensive scheme.

Traylor said that the Bulldogs do the same thing on the other side of the football. “Defensively, they are very multiple as well,” said Traylor. “They’ve been in a 4-2, 3-3, 50, 4-3; they just do a lot of stuff.”

Sandifer believes the Bulldogs’ various looks give his team an advantage. “We do feel like our kids can adapt week to week against whoever we’re playing and make the necessary changes that can give us the chance to win the football game.”

It’s hard to argue with the Bulldogs’ results. After starting the season 1-2, Abilene Wylie has won 10 in a row to reach the state semifinals for the third time in five years. “They just do whatever it takes to win,” said Traylor.

No matter what offense Abilene Wylie comes out in, the Bulldogs have proven their effectiveness by averaging 37 points and 309 yards per game. Despite those impressive offensive numbers, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher, Cameron Rogers, (6-0, 195) has only 863 yards on the season, while quarterback Jared Wallace (6-0, 190) has passed for 1,469 yards.

“There is not a lot of flashy individual stats on our team,” confirmed Sandifer. “We’re not going to have anybody with flashy numbers pop out at you.”

Flashy numbers are one way to describe Gilmer’s offense that averages 51 points and 508 yards per game. “They’ve got a lot of weapons on offense,” said Sandifer, who expects the Buckeyes to stick to their strengths. “Any team still playing in week fourteen, it’s obvious the guys that are the play makers on their team are going to have the ball in their hands.”

That would be running back Justin Johnson, who has rushed for 731 yards and 9 touchdowns in three playoff games to bring his season totals to 2,049 yards and 24 touchdowns on only 169 carries. But Johnson is not the only play maker the Buckeyes have. Sophomore quarterback Darian Godfrey has completed 66 percent of his passes for 2,451 yards and 34 touchdowns, while rushing for 540 yards and 13 more touchdowns. Godfrey’s favorite receiver has been Houston Tuminello who has caught 63 passes for 914 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“They’ve got a solid offensive line that does a great job [and] gives their quarterback time to throw it, and outstanding talent at running back and receiver,” said Sandifer. “They pose a big threat for you when you’re trying to slow that down.”

The Bulldogs have managed to slow down most of their opponents this season, allowing only 15 points and 231 yards per game. “Their front seven is the best that we have faced this season,” warned Traylor. “They have four outstanding linebackers who remind me of Daniel Dodd and Chaz Kuikahi.”

That is high praise from Traylor since Dodd and Kuikahi were all-state linebackers on Gilmer’s 2004 state championship team. And even though the Buckeyes’ defense has put up its best statistics since that 2004 season, Traylor admitted that the unit hasn’t received much respect.

“The (NCAA) Division I players we have are on offense. We don’t have that on defense. On defense we’ve got a bunch of kids that overachieve a lot, and they’re the ones that deserve a lot of credit,” praised Traylor.

Gilmer’s defense is allowing only 14.5 points and 234 yards per game this season, led by linebackers Ross Stevens’ 118 tackles and Vance Green’s 100 stops. “They compete so hard and they never quit,” exclaimed Traylor. “They are the epitome of the Black Flag Defense; they’re not going to surrender.”

The Buckeyes’ defense will need to, “Get their offense off the field,” said Traylor, who believes he knows what the Bulldogs’ game plan will be. “They’re going to try to keep our offense on the bench; that’s what I think.”

Sandifer’s next statement seems to confirm Traylor’s theory. “You’ve got to make sure that when you get the football you can keep it and do some things with it, so hanging on to it is a big key.”

Another thing that both coaches agree on is the expectation of a large crowd. “There will be a lot of people out of town on Saturday,” said Sandifer, who explained that Abilene High plays in the Class 5A regional final at 1 p.m. at Texas Stadium. “I imagine we’ll get a few carry-overs from the Abilene High game, so I would expect it to be a great crowd Saturday night.”

Traylor praised the Buckeyes’ faithful who showed up last Saturday in Mesquite. “Wow; who couldn’t play hard for that group of people? They’re amazing. Our crowd has played a part in every snap of our playoff run.”

Sandifer is excited about the matchup. “I just think it’s great for the state of Texas to have two quality programs play like this in the playoffs. I think it’s a great compliment to both schools and the quality of programs that we have.”

Visit the Sports page of for more on tonight’s Class 3A Division I Semifinal, including a map locating the stadium. There is also a link there to, which will webcast the game live.

The audio will also be cablecast live over Etex Channel 1 and Gilmer Cable TV Channel 33.

The winner of this game will play for the state championship on Saturday, Dec. 15, against the winner of the Liberty Hill-Pleasanton game being played tonight at 8 p.m. in San Antonio.

Game Notes

• This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
• This is Gilmer’s 27th playoff appearance, including 7 straight.
• This is Abilene Wylie’s 20th playoff appearance, including a 3A- leading 14th straight.
• Gilmer has a 41-19-1 record in 61 playoff games with two appearances in the state championship game (1981 and 2004) and one state championship (2004).
• Abilene Wylie has a 31-18-1 record in 50 playoff games with two appearances in the state championship game (2000 and 2004) and one state championship (2004).
• This will be Gilmer’s first-ever visit to Birdville ISD Stadium.
• Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor is 84-14 in 8 seasons at Gilmer, including a 13-5 career playoff record in 7 appearances.
• Abilene Wylie head coach Hugh Sandifer is 188-74-4 in 22 seasons at Abilene Wylie, including a 30-15-1 career playoff record in 17 appearances.
• Gilmer has missed the playoffs once in Jeff Traylor’s 8 seasons.
• Abilene Wylie has missed the playoffs 5 times in Hugh Sandifer’s 22 seasons.
• In the last 5 seasons, Gilmer is 62-4 with 2 semifinal appearances.
• In the last 5 seasons, Abilene Wylie is 51-16 with 3 semifinal appearances.
• Since 2000, Gilmer is 84-14, including a 13-5 playoff record and 1 state championship.
• Since 2000, Abilene Wylie is 84-21, including a 19-6 playoff record and 1 state championship.
• Gilmer’s senior class has a 49-3 record and 1 state championship.
• Abilene Wylie’s senior class has a 42-11 record and 1 state championship.
• Gilmer needs 4 points to surpass the school’s single-season record of 664 points scored in 16 games during the 2004 season.
• Gilmer’s Justin Johnson needs 4 rushing touchdowns to surpass the school’s single-season record of 27 set by Derek McKenzie in 2003.
• Gilmer’s Houston Tuminello needs 2 touchdown receptions to surpass the school’s single-season record of 14 set by Curtis Brown and Lamar Harris in 2006.
• Tuminello also needs 86 receiving yards to reach at least 1,000 yards for the 3rd straight season.
• Gilmer’s Jeremy Jackson needs 182 rushing yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
• Abilene Wylie’s Cameron Rogers needs 137 yards rushing to reach 1,000 for the season.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Buckeyes corral Mustangs in regional final


The Gilmer Buckeyes managed to overcome a disastrous second quarter and a Herculean effort by Dallas Roosevelt quarterback Vincent McNeil Jr. to capture a hard-fought 42-36 Class 3A Region I final win over the Mustangs before an estimated crowd of 13,000 people at Mesquite’s Memorial Stadium Saturday night.

McNeil led the Mustangs to a 29-point second quarter, thanks to three Buckeyes’ miscues that helped Roosevelt rack up 194 yards of total offense in the second quarter alone. “He’s the best player I’ve ever coached against,” praised Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor. “I know I said that about LaMichael James [Liberty-Eylau’s running back], but now LaMichael James is second.” McNeil accounted for 432 total yards in the game, throwing two touchdown passes and running for another score.

Luckily for the Buckeyes it took McNeil a quarter to get warmed up. The Mustangs’ first possession lasted 5:03, but only managed 28 yards in 8 plays before Roosevelt was forced to punt to the Buckeyes.

Gilmer started their first drive from their 21-yard line and found the end zone 9 plays later when Darian Godfrey hit Lamar Harris out in the left flat. Harris quickly followed his blockers the 20 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Adan Olivares kicked the first of four extra points, giving the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead with 4:10 to play in the first quarter.

The Mustangs almost scored on the ensuing kickoff when Roosevelt’s Kevin Booker caught the football at the 6-yard line and raced upfield until the Buckeyes’ Vance Green came up with a touchdown saving tackle at the Roosevelt 49-yard line.

The Mustangs controlled the football for over 4 minutes, but had to settle for a 25-yard field goal, cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to 7-3 with 11:47 remaining in the second quarter.

That’s when disaster struck the Buckeyes. Sophomore Jeremy Jackson had the kickoff bounce off him near the 10-yard line and roll back towards the end zone. Jackson picked up the football at the 2-yard line and stepped backwards into the end zone and took a knee, thinking that his actions would result in a touch back. Instead, Jackson was called for a safety and the Mustangs were awarded 2 points to close the Buckeyes’ lead to 7-5.

Gilmer then had to kick off to the Mustangs from their own 20-yard line. Booker returned it to the Gilmer 48-yard line. Roosevelt converted two 3rd down attempts, including a 42-yard run by McNeil and an 11-yard touchdown pass from McNeil to Quintell Solomon to take a 12-7 lead with 9:13 to go in the second quarter.

The Buckeyes rallied on their next series, going 80 yards in 9 plays to take back the lead on Godfrey’s 1-yard touchdown run with 6:25 to play in the half. Godfrey then completed a 2-point conversion pass to Justin Johnson to give Gilmer a 15-12 advantage.

The Buckeyes surprised the Mustangs with a perfectly executed onside kick that bounced off a Roosevelt player and into the hands of Tristin Holt, who fell on the football at the Mustangs’ 49-yard line.

Six plays and 2:22 later, Godfrey scored from 2 yards out to extend Gilmer’s lead to 22-12 with just over four minutes to play in the half.

That was more than enough time for McNeil and the Mustangs, who scored three more times before halftime. The first score capped off a 70-yard, 5-play drive when McNeil hit Jarale Shaw from 11 yards out to cut the Buckeyes lead to 22-19 with 2:50 to go in the half.

Johnson’s kickoff return to the Mustangs’ 46-yard line coupled with a 15-yard penalty against Roosevelt gave Gilmer the football at the Mustangs’ 31-yard line. On the Buckeyes next play, Godfrey took off on a quarterback keeper picking up 12 yards, but the sophomore quarterback fumbled the football after a hard hit from a Mustang defender at the Roosevelt 19-yard line.

McNeil led the Mustangs down the field, capping off an impressive 8-play, 81-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with :12 left on the clock, to put Roosevelt ahead 26-22. Gilmer’s kickoff return woes continued when Johnson took the Mustangs’ kick and had the football knocked out of his hands at the Buckeyes’ own 11-yard line where Roosevelt recovered the loose ball with :06 left to play.

McNeil attempted a pass to Solomon in the back of the end zone, but two Buckeyes’ defenders were there to knock the ball away with one second remaining on the game clock. The Mustangs’ Gabriol Sanchez kicked a 28-yard field goal as time expired, giving Roosevelt a 29-22 halftime lead, to the dismay of the stunned Gilmer crowd.

“You can’t turn the ball over three times in the first half against a great team,” stated Traylor, who insisted that the Buckeyes were not panicked after the first half. “We were only down seven so we felt great because we had played terrible.”

“It was the first time this year to turn the ball over as many times as we did in the first half,” agreed Johnson. “With our senior leadership, I think our guys understood that we weren’t going to give up, we weren’t going to get down. It was just like 2004 when Manuel Johnson’s group went in [at the half] against Pittsburg. We knew that we had to step up right then and make a stand, and that’s what we did.”

“We’re a team; we’re a family” said Buckeyes’ senior offensive lineman Daniel Jenkins. “Families don’t get down, families always pick each other up and we just kept it going.”

Godfrey said the game plan for the second half was simple. “We knew that if we hadn’t had those three turnovers we’d be up, so all we had to do was stop the turnovers and get back into the game.”

So the Buckeyes hit the field for the second half determined to eliminate the mistakes that had plagued them in the first half. On the opening kickoff, Roosevelt served notice that it wouldn’t be that simple. Sanchez’s kick failed to get much air under the football and ricocheted off Gilmer’s Ben Griffith and into the arms of a Mustang player who fell on the football at his own 49-yard line.

That bad bounce even made Traylor wonder if it wasn’t the Buckeyes’ night. “I refused to believe it, but I did think about it,” admitted Traylor.

The Buckeyes’ Black Flag defense came to the rescue, forcing the Mustangs to punt four plays later after giving up only 5 yards in 3 plays. “That was huge,” praised Traylor. “The defense was amazing. I can’t tell you how great that defense played tonight.”

Gilmer took control of the football at their own 19-yard line and looked like a team possessed. Alternating between Johnson’s running and Godfrey’s passing to Houston Tuminello, the Buckeyes chewed up yardage in big chunks, picking up four straight first downs to open the drive. Godfrey picked up the last 5 yards on a 4-yard run and a 1-yard touchdown run to tie the score with 9:02 to go in the third quarter.

Godfrey finished with 67 yards on the ground and 198 yards through the air; a performance that his coach called “his best game of the year. “

“He completed almost 90 percent of his passes, ran for three touchdowns and threw two touchdown passes. He just did it all,” said Traylor.

Roosevelt’s next possession lasted 4:18, but resulted in only 8 yards in 6 plays thanks to 6 offensive penalties totaling 45 yards against the Mustangs. Sanchez’s punt traveled only 22 yards before Tuminello called for a fair-catch at Gilmer’s own 38-yard line.

The Buckeyes failed to capitalize on the Mustangs’ mistakes when Godfrey’s fourth down scramble came up a yard short of the first down marker, giving Roosevelt the football at Gilmer’s 47-yard line.

According to Traylor, the decision to go for it on fourth down came down to the Buckeyes’ team philosophy. “It’s a mindset we have. We don’t coach afraid to lose; we coach to win. We went in there to win.”

Once again the Black Flag Defense came to the rescue when the sophomore Holt made another big play with a spectacular interception of a McNeil pass at the Buckeyes’ 34-yard line with2:50 to play in the third quarter.

“That interception by Tristin Holt was unbelievable,” exclaimed Traylor. “The defense was phenomenal. To stop them there; that was huge.”

The Mustangs’ first turnover sparked the Gilmer offense, which rode Johnson for 46 yards on three straight carries, before Godfrey and Tuminello connected on an amazing 20-yard touchdown pass-and-catch over the Mustangs’ dimunitive 5-7 cornerback.

“I told Coach Traylor that I’ve got a mismatch over here,” said the 6-2 Tuminello.

“He played the ball well, but I knew when we went up, who would come down with it.”

That touchdown gave the Buckeyes a 36-29 lead with 1:43 remaining in the third quarter.

Roosevelt’s only touchdown of the second half came on their next possession when the Mustangs controlled the clock for 6:39 before Booker closed out a 14-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run that tied the score 36-36 with 7:04 to play in the game.

Gilmer’s next possession defined the game. Facing fourth down and four at the Buckeyes’ own 31-yard line, Traylor called on his offense to keep the drive alive. Godfrey delivered a 5-yard strike to Hunter Harrison, giving the Buckeyes’ new life, and their coach a reprieve. “That was a huge fourth down catch” said Traylor. “I might have been moving out of Gilmer if he hadn’t caught that ball.”

Johnson, who had his third consecutive 200-plus-yard performance with 220 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown, rewarded Traylor’s faith in his offense with a 54-yard run on the next play, and then scored three plays later on a 3-yard run with 3:16 remaining, giving the Buckeyes a 42-36 lead.

For the season, Johnson has now rushed for 2,049 yards on 169 carries and 24 TDs.

Traylor decided to go for two points thinking that Roosevelt might score and try to win with their own two-point conversion, but Johnson fumbled the football before crossing the goal line, leaving the Buckeyes’ lead at 6.

“I don’t regret it at all, because I gave my best players a chance to win the game,” responded Traylor when asked about the decision to go for two points.

Once again, Traylor’s faith in his team was rewarded by a huge play from the Black Flag Defense. With 2:37 to play, and with Roosevelt threatening from the Buckeyes’ 31-yard line, McNeil completed a pass to Markeith Gomillia, who was hit high and low by Ross Stevens and Paul Chesnut, jarring the ball loose at the 22-yard line. The officials ruled that the Buckeyes recovered the fumble, giving Gilmer the football and a chance to run the clock out.

Johnson picked up 15 yards on the first two carries, giving Gilmer the first down they needed to run out the clock and advance to Saturday’s semifinal against Abilene Wylie.

“My kids just kept battling,” Traylor said. “What more can you say about my kids? I just can’t say enough good things about them.”

Special Teams Player of the Week: Adan Olivares
Bounty Hunter: Vance Green
Hector’s Wrecker: JT Beechum
Black Attack: Kevin Godfrey
(Last week’s Wrecker was Zack Davidson and Black Attack was Cory Davison.)


The Buckeyes (13-0) will now face the Abilene Wylie Bulldogs (11-2) at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, Dec. 8, at Birdville Athletic Complex in North Richland Hills, a suburb of Fort Worth. This is the Class 3A Division I Semifinal.


Roosevelt Gilmer

20 First downs 26
23-36-2-1 Passing (c-a-td-int) 17-19-2-0
255 Passing yds 198
33-171 Rushes-yds 37-294
426 Total yds 492
29:05 Time of possession 18:55
14-105 Penalties-yds. 4-42
2 Fumbles lost 3
1 2 3 4 T
Roosevelt 0 29 0 7 36
Gilmer 7 15 14 6 42

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
JUSTIN “BUS” JOHNSON drives for yardage in the Class 3A Division I quarterfinal contest Saturday night, Dec. 1, against Dallas Roosevelt's Mustangs. He ran for 220 yards as the “wild horses” of Roosevelt had no more luck stopping the “Bus” than had Gilmer’s two previous 2007 playoff opponents.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S VANCE GREEN bearhugs Vincent McNeil Jr. to prevent him from passing as he is sacked. The phenomenally-talented Mustang quarterback completed several passes while falling in the grasp of Buckeye defenders, but Gilmer managed to outscore Dallas Roosevelt, 42-36.

End of Roosevelt game being investigated


Gilmer Independent School District Superintendent Rick Albritton is drafting a complaint to the Dallas Independent School District and the University Interscholastic League asking that both groups look into the actions of Dallas Roosevelt High School football players following Gilmer’s 42-36 Class 3A Region I final win Saturday night in Mesquite.

When the game ended, Roosevelt players stormed towards the Gilmer sideline, shouting and pushing Gilmer players, coaches and even cheerleaders. Video shot by a camera person from WFAA-TV in Dallas even shows a Roosevelt player throwing a roundhouse punch to the head of a Gilmer coach.

No serious injuries were sustained in the incident, but the trophy presentation was delayed and had to be performed in the Gilmer corner of the end zone instead of at midfield. Gilmer head football coach Jeff Traylor praised his team for not retaliating. “My kids did a great job of getting away from it all. Their kids were just frustrated, and it was a terrible way to end a very good ball game.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER BUCKEYES in above photo stand alert on the hill at Mesquite Memorial Stadium after winning 42-36 over the Dallas Roosevelt Mustangs, following their coaches’ instructions as their opponents are escorted by their coaches off the field after the Class 3A Division I quarterfinal contest Saturday night, Dec 1.

Sunday, December 02, 2007