Friday, August 29, 2008

Gilmer 56, Jasper 28

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes notch impressive victory

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Gilmer Rolls Over Jasper


No Doubts About Gilmer

From the Jasper Newsboy:

Gilmer rolls to easy win over Jasper

From The Gilmer Mirror:

Buckeyes blast Bulldogs


The Gilmer Buckeyes used a ball-hawking defense, great field position, and superior depth to overwhelm the Jasper Bulldogs 56-28 Thursday night (August 28) in the opening game of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic in front of almost 6,000 fans at Tyler's Trinity Mother Frances' Rose Stadium.

The Buckeyes' Black Flag defense forced three first quarter turnovers and the Buckeyes' offense started six out of seven first half possessions inside Jasper territory giving Gilmer a commanding 28-7 halftime lead that the Bulldogs could not overcome.

“I'm just happy we won,” said Buckeyes' head coach Jeff Traylor. “We really wanted to get this one. We knew our team didn't have a lot of confidence. They were new and they had listened to a lot of people tell them they were not as good as some of our other teams. So we thought this game was huge and we placed a lot of emphasis on it.”

The Buckeyes' special teams set the tone early with great coverage on the opening kickoff, tackling Jasper's Dominique Bailey at the Bulldogs' 12-yard line to start the game.

Gilmer's defense then forced Jasper to punt five plays later giving the Buckeyes' offense the football at the Gilmer 48-yard line. That would be the only first half possession for the Buckeyes that did not start on Jasper's side of the field.

Junior quarterback Stump Godfrey, Gilmer's only returning starter on offense, led the Buckeyes down the field hitting 4 of 4 passes for 32 yards and rushing for 17 yards setting up a first and goal from the Jasper 3-yard line. Godfrey ran the next play to the right side and dove towards the endzone only to have the football come loose and roll into the endzone where a Bulldog recovered the fumble.

“I was down. My knee went down, then the ball came out,” insisted Godfrey after the game. Traylor said the turnover didn't faze his signal caller. “He just came over to the sideline said he tried to score, he thought he was down,” Traylor said. “I thought his temperament was just wonderful. That was what I was most impressed with.”

Gilmer's defense forced three straight Bulldogs' turnovers on the next three possessions to put the game out of reach. J.T. Beecham got the first turnover just four plays after the Buckeyes' lone turnover when he stepped in front of Jasper quarterback Bailey's pass at the 34-yard line and returned the interception to the Bulldogs' 20-yard line. Gilmer wasted no time, scoring on the next play when Godfrey waited until the last possible second to float a screen pass over several rushing defenders to Jeremy Jackson, who followed a line of blockers into the endzone for a touchdown. Adan Olivares kicked the first of eight successful extra points for a 7-0 Buckeyes' lead with 4:37 to play in the first quarter.

“The biggest play of the game to me was the interception by J.T. Beecham after we had just turned it over. I thought that was huge,” said Traylor who saw his Buckeyes' regular season winning streak go to 24 games with the win.

Gilmer's Mikey Wilson stopped Jasper's next possession when he intercepted Bailey's pass at his own 40-yard line and returned it 28 yards to the Bulldogs' 32-yard line. After the game, Wilson said his interception was just part of the defensive game plan. “We just try to keep them from getting explosive plays, create at least three turnovers, and get the ball back for the offense down in the red zone.”

Once again the Buckeyes' offense struck quickly. After a 5-yard penalty for illegal motion pushed the Buckeyes back to the 37-yard line, Gilmer scored on the next play when Godfrey threw a lateral to Braylon Webb, who then threw down field to a wide open Beecham for a touchdown and a 14-0 advantage with 2:09 remaining in the opening quarter.

Two plays into Jasper's next series, the Buckeyes' Vance Green recovered a Bulldogs' fumble at the Jasper 45-yard line to give the Buckeyes another short field scoring opportunity.

This time the Buckeyes could not take advantage of the turnover, as a 10-yard holding penalty set the tone for a short series that saw Ben Griffith punt for the first time this season.

Jasper returned the favor four plays later, punting to Gilmer's Tristan Holt, who returned it to the Bulldogs' 49-yard line.

After two scoring drives totaling two plays and 18 seconds, the Buckeyes slowed things down a bit by covering the 49 yards on eight consecutive running plays. Godfrey did most of the work, carrying the ball six times for 37 yards, and scoring on a 3-yard run for a 21-0 lead with 8:34 to go in the second quarter.

Jasper's offense finally came to life on the Bulldogs' next possession. A 49-yard pass from Bailey to Kwamé Spikes put the ball at the Gilmer 5-yard line. Three plays later Ben Armstrong punched it in from a yard out for Jasper's first score. Ernesto Medrano kicked the first of four successful PAT attempts to cut the lead to 21-7 with 4:54 remaining in the first half.

Once again the Buckeyes' special teams set the tone for how Gilmer would respond to adversity when Holt took the Jasper kickoff and burst straight up the middle of the field and outran the Bulldogs' defenders for an apparent 83-yard touchdown. However an official ruled that Holt had stepped out of bounds at the Jasper 6-yard line. Two plays later Zach Jones ran the ball in from 5 yards out to increase the Buckeyes' lead to 28-7 with 4:05 left in the half.

Gilmer's defense and special teams stopped Jasper's chance of closing the gap before halftime when the Bulldogs' fake punt attempt was thrown for a loss giving Gilmer the ball back at the Jasper 47-yard line with 1:38 remaining in the half. The Buckeyes ran the clock out, content with a 21-point halftime advantage.

“They had a great game plan,” praised Jasper head coach Thomas Brooks. “They surprised us with their quick-strike offense. They were lining up and just coming real fast and I think it just kind of wore us down. They did a real good job with that. Coach Traylor and his staff do a super job.”

Traylor was happy with the offense, but gave credit to the other units for the offense's success. “Our defense played very well and gave us those three turnovers early in the game,” stated Traylor. “We played on a short field a lot of the night with turnovers and our kick-off return team and our punt return team. So many hidden yards are in those plays that a lot of people just don't pay attention to.”

Gilmer received the second half kickoff and sent a message to Jasper that there would not be a second half comeback like the Bulldogs made in the 2004 state championship game. Webb gave the Buckeyes good field position with his return to the 39-yard line. Gilmer covered the 61 yards in 9 plays, scoring on Jackson's 1-yard run with 9:15 to play in the third quarter to take a 35-7 lead.

The Bulldogs responded five plays later with an 11-yard touchdown run by Bailey to cut the score to 35-14 with 8:07 remaining in the third quarter.

Jasper then forced Gilmer's second punt of the game on the Buckeyes' next series, getting the ball back at their own 37-yard line. Two big plays put the Bulldogs at the Gilmer 25-yard line. Just as momentum looked like it could shift to Jasper, the Buckeyes' defense stepped up and turned back the scoring threat, allowing only three yards on the next three plays. Then on fourth down, the Black Flag Defense dropped Bailey for a 12-yard loss giving the football back to the offense at their own 34-yard line.

Four plays later Jackson exploded through the line and raced 53 yards for another Buckeyes touchdown, pushing the score to 42-14 with 34:02 left in the third quarter.

Despite the big play, Jasper responded well. “They played hard the whole game,” praised Traylor. “They never went away.'' The Bulldogs closed the gap again with an 86-yard drive in 9 plays, scoring as time expired in the third quarter on a 4-yard run by Armstrong to make the score 42-21.

The Buckeyes' next series resulted in Griffith's third punt of the game, a 44-yard beauty that pinned Jasper back at their own 21-yard line. Gilmer's defense pushed the Bulldogs backwards 10 more yards and forced their third punt of the game. The Buckeyes' special teams shined again as Paul Chesnut caught the punt and returned it 22 yards to the Jasper 34-yard line.

Gilmer's offense slowed things down and milked 4:09 off the clock with 8 straight runs, taking a 49-21 lead on Jackson's third touchdown of the game, with 5:50 to play.

The Bulldogs could only gain seven yards on their next series, turning the ball over on downs at their own 42-yard line.

Two plays later, Godfrey made a perfect fake handoff and zig-zagged through the Bulldogs' defense on a spectacular 36-yard touchdown run, giving his Buckeyes a 56-21 lead with only 3:25 left in the game. That scoring run gave Godfrey 125 yards rushing on 20 carries. “I really liked that,” said Godfrey, who had the most carries of his varsity career. “It made me feel like I was in a junior high game.”

Jasper responded one more time going on a 56-yard, 5-play scoring drive ending with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Stubblefield to Ryan Bronson to make the score 56-28 with 1:46 to go.

It looked like the Buckeyes would add to their touchdown total when Beecham took a handoff and went 55 yards untouched around the left side for an apparent touchdown only two plays later, but an official called a holding penalty against Gilmer on the play and nullified the touchdown. With 1:24 to play, the Buckeyes let the clock run out to win their fifth straight Classic game.

“They came out and were focused and they did a super job,” praised Jasper's Brooks.

The Buckeyes will host Rains for Homecoming on Friday, Sept. 5 at Buckeye Stadium.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
QB STUMP GODFREY dives in from a yard out to score Gilmer's third touchdown on Thursday night, Aug. 28, in Tyler during the opener of the annual Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic.


Buckeyes vs Jasper Bulldogs

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Buckeyes face Jasper in rematch of 2004 title game


The Gilmer Buckeyes kick off the 2008 season Thursday night (August 28) at 7:30 p.m. against Jasper in the opening game of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic in a game billed as the rematch of the 2004 Class 3A Division II State Championship game.

The only similarity to that game according to both Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor and Jasper head coach Thomas Brooks, is the name of the two teams playing.

“None of these kids played, but they did go to the game,” said Brooks. “They know about Gilmer and they know about the program that they have. So I don't have to tell them about the tradition that they have, their winning percentage, or how many times they've been to the playoffs; the kids know about them.”

It's hard not to know about Gilmer, who won that first meeting between the two schools, 49-47, on their way to their first state title. The Buckeyes have gone 34-4 since the last meeting against the Bulldogs, including another trip to the state championship game.

“Every time they play somebody, it's a big ball game for their opponent,” stated Brooks. “And I think they know that. That's why they have to be ready to play every week.”

Jasper hasn't enjoyed the same success as Gilmer since 2004, going 16-17 the past three seasons. But that doesn't intimidate the Bulldogs. “That's one thing I can tell you,” Brooks said. “Our kids never back down from a challenge, and they're excited about playing Gilmer.”

“Thomas Brooks has had this game circled for a long time,” confirmed Traylor. “He's won everywhere he has gone. His kids are very well coached and disciplined.” Brooks left John Tyler after the 2006 season to return to Jasper, where he was head coach from 2000 to 2001. “He's going back to Tyler where he coached. He told me that they've really worked hard for this game. I know he wants to look good.”

Brooks is excited about his return to the Rose City. “I always enjoyed playing at Rose Stadium,” Brooks said. “It's a great place, great atmosphere.”

Brooks does have one concern about his return to Tyler. “We played in the Classic every year that I was there so I got a chance to watch Gilmer play. It seemed like every time they played someone in the Classic, they blew them out, so I'm worried about that.”

The Buckeyes have averaged 55 points in four Classic appearances and have won each game by an average margin of 39 points. But Traylor said that is unlikely to happen again, for one reason. “We lost 10 starters on offense,” explained Traylor.

But the one starter returning is junior quarterback Stump Godfrey, who threw for 2,727 yards and 38 touchdowns and ran for another 617 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. That makes Godfrey the target for the Bulldogs. “We're going to have to contain the quarterback,” said Brooks. “If he has a great night against us, I think that's not going to be good. I think we'll be in trouble.”

Brooks also admits that Jasper's returning junior quarterback Dominique Bailey is the focus of the Bulldog's offense. “It's no secret that we're going to ride him as far as he can take us,” stated Brooks. Last season Bailey (5' 8”, 175) accounted for 1,025 yards passing and 1,125 yards rushing, while scoring 34 touchdowns to be named District 21-3A's offensive newcomer of the year.

“He didn't start until about the fifth ball game for us, and we rode him to the playoffs,” said Brooks. “He wants the ball in his hands; that's why he's playing quarterback.”

Jasper operates out of the spread offense like Gilmer. “Very similar to us, but more ground oriented,” Traylor said. “They're going to run their quarterback and their tailback. Their receivers are extremely fast; they can stretch the field on you. They have legitimately four or five kids that when they touch it they can score.”

Jasper returns five starters on an offense that averaged almost 33 points per game last season. Defensively, the Bulldogs are even more experienced with eight returning starters. “Our middle linebacker (Dante Rollins, 6', 230) had 150 tackles last year and our weakside linebacker (Alton Bronson, 5' 10”, 200) had over 100 tackles last year, so those guys have a lot of experience,” said Brooks. “They've seen just about everything.”

Traylor is concerned with the Bulldogs' returning starters. “Early in the year that's a huge advantage,” confirmed Traylor. “They have all of those players back; significant players back.”

Brooks said Jasper's experience advantage will only last a few games. “I'm glad that we get to play them first because they're only going to get better and better,” stated Brooks.

“I wouldn't want to play them the fourth or fifth ball game. I'm just glad we're playing them the first. I think we can give them a good ball game. That's what I'm hoping.”

If preseason scrimmages are any indication, the Bulldogs should give the Buckeyes plenty of problems. Jasper outscored Port Neches-Groves 5-1 in touchdowns and Nederland 29-22 in a simulated game. Both teams made the playoffs in Class 4A last season.

The Buckeyes also looked good in their two scrimmages against Atlanta and New Boston, but Traylor warned his team to not compare those two teams to the Bulldogs. “Jasper is a lot better than Atlanta or New Boston,” Traylor said.

The Buckeyes' Boss confided on what it will take to win this ball game. “It will come down to two things; turnovers, and which team is conditioned the best will win the game,” Traylor stated.

Jasper's Brooks agreed with Traylor and added his reason for agreeing to the game. “Whether we win or lose, we're going to be a better team for doing this because we could have played someone that is not very good and easily won, but that wouldn't have helped us.”

Traylor said the matchup has the potential to be memorable. “I think this will be a game that when you leave you're going to say, 'man I was glad I was at that game.”


• Gilmer has a 24-game regular season winning streak (last loss: 26-17 @ Daingerfield Sept. 30, 2005)

• Gilmer has a 6-game opening game winning streak (last loss: 20-14 Gladewater 2001)

• Gilmer has a 4-game winning streak in the TMF Football Classic

• Jeff Traylor is 85-15 at Gilmer

• Jeff Traylor is 7-1 in opening games

• Jeff Traylor is 6-2 in games played at TMF Rose Stadium

• Gilmer is 54-1 in their last 55 regular season games

• Gilmer's Stump Godfrey needs 53 total yards to pass Tommy Palmer for 7th place in school history

• Gilmer's Stump Godfrey needs 147 total yards to pass G.J. Kinne for 6th place in school history

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
DANIEL DODD of the Gilmer Buckeyes leaps high into the air to force a change in the trajectory of Jasper Bulldogs QB Gilbert Moye’s pass during the thrilling Class 3A Division II state championship game on Dec. 18, 2004, at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches. Other Buckeyes pressuring Moye are Roderick McKnight (33) and Jake Holladay (12). Gilmer won, 49-47. The two teams will meet for only the second time in history on Thursday night at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler as the opening game of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic.

Area Teams Open Season Tonight
A Lot Expected of Gilmer QB Darian Godfrey
District 17-3A Preview

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lunch with the Coach begins

Lunch with the Coach of the Gilmer Buckeyes starts today (Wednesday, Aug. 27) at the Gilmer Country Club at noon. You must have your Booster Membership Card to get in.

Cards will be delivered this week, and those that are undeliverable will be at the door at “Lunch with the Coach.”

You can purchase a membership at the door.

“Also, lets all wear our orange for this first football game played in Texas this year,” said Buckeye fan Bridget Fowler, referring to Thursday night’s opening game of the annual Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic at TMF Rose Stadium in Tyler.

Buckeyes' Traylor discusses 2008 season

The Gilmer Mirror's JOE DODD sat down with Gilmer Buckeyes' head coach JEFF TRAYLOR in a question-and-answer session to get his thoughts on the upcoming season.

Every season your team chooses a motto. What is this season's motto, and why was it selected?

The motto is Henotes. It is a Greek word which means unity; spirit of one. I think it is appropriate because we have so many different pieces to the puzzle. When you are working a puzzle you try to get the corners and work towards the middle. In the last few years, I would say our team has had the corners and most of the big pieces down. We didn't have to find many pieces of the puzzle. This year we have one returner on offense and four on defense, so we have to find a bunch of pieces of the puzzle. We have to unite as one.

With your 85 career wins, you are only two wins away from passing Truett Rattan and five wins away from passing Henry McClelland as the Buckeyes' career leader. Since you grew up in Gilmer, what does that mean to you?

I grew up hearing about those two men and the legacy they left. Not only were they very good football coaches wins and loses wise, they were really good people. They were what the game was supposed to be about. Just for my name to be mentioned with theirs is very flattering. Of course right now I'm just trying to win the first one to get there. If that happens, and when that happens, it will be very special to me.
Gilmer brings several impressive streaks into this season. The Buckeyes have won 34 consecutive district games en route to 7 straight undefeated district championships.

You have won 25 straight games at home, and 24 regular season games in a row. Which streak is the most important to you?

The district winning streak is the one that really matters. That is the only one that has a continuation of the entire program [since Traylor arrived in 2000]. Those kids that started it are now 26 years old, married, and have children. I don't want to put pressure on the kids, but I do think it is important they understand that they are part of a legacy, they are part of a program. We talk about it all the time; that pressure is a privilege. It's a good thing to have pressure.

Tatum was the last team to beat Gilmer in a district game your first season in 2000. Now you share the same district with the Eagles again; are they the biggest threat to your district winning streaks?

I would say no because we play them last. The biggest threat is Bullard because we have them first. The second biggest threat is Chapel Hill because we have them second, then Spring Hill and Gladewater. It would be really great for the fans and media if both teams were undefeated in district play for that last game. I think that would be great for football in East Texas.

Derek McKenzie is the only player who has started more than one season at quarterback since you became head coach in 2000. Stump Godfrey returns for his junior season after starting 15 games his sophomore year. What are the advantages of having a returning starter at quarterback?

There is no comparison; just their knowledge and understanding. It's a true blessing. If there is one starter you would want to pick to have returning, it would be your quarterback, especially in our offense. He has a lot of responsibility on him. It is a tremendous advantage.

The 702 points scored last season set a school record, and continued a streak of six record-setting years of offensive production. Is it realistic to expect the same level of production from this year's team?

I don't think it's realistic to ever expect anyone to score 700 points; that's amazing just listening to it. We try to score 42 points every Friday night; that's our goal. Those are our expectations. Are they realistic, I don't know. Realistic would never be a way to describe me.

With all of the focus on the offense, it is easy for your defense to be overlooked. What are your expectations for the Black Flag defense this season?

I think we have a chance to be better than we have been because of our team speed. I know we are not overly impressive for our size, but we can really run. My expectations are the same every year; for them to hold the opponent to one point less than what we score, to run to the football, and hit and tackle well. Those are always my expectations. I know that's very simplistic, but that's a lot to get done.

With two appearances in the state championship game and a 63-5 record the past five seasons, did it surprise you that Gilmer was left out of most preseason top 10 rankings?

No. I don't think we get the media coverage statewide in East Texas. That does not surprise me. You need to be in West Texas, Houston or Dallas; that's where the media is. The only reason we got ranked the last two years is because we had those players that were nationally recruited, so we got the coverage then. We don't have those players now and the media forgot about us out here in East Texas.

Your oldest son Jordan is a freshman this year; are you looking forward to coaching him?

I am. It's good for me because I get a real good perspective of what it's like for these kids growing up in Gilmer and how important it is to them. So it's helped me to get an insight into what the kids think.
The number one reason though is I've been away from him so much coaching everybody else's kids, and now I'm going to get to spend an inordinate amount of time with him. That hopefully can replace some of the time that I've been gone.
I don't want him to feel like he has some kind of undue expectations on him because he's the head coach's son. I want him to have fun playing. That's all I worry about.
I would hope that I've always coached every child like they're my own. I'll get to find out these next four years for sure.

What are your expectations for this season?

Mine are always the same. First and foremost, in everything that we do is to honor the Lord. We always want to do that even though we fall short of that. We realize there will be times that our actions might not honor Him, but we will get up the next morning with our mind set on achieving that goal. And then we want to be the very best that we can be. We feel like if we can do that we should win championships. That's what we really believe. Our goals never change, because the moment you lower the bar of your expectations, you will achieve it. And we don't want to lower that bar.

2008 Buckeyes Season at a Glance

August 28: Jasper @ TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler

A rematch of the 2004 Class 3A Division II State Championship game won by Gilmer 49-47. The Buckeyes have never lost in the Football Classic played in Tyler. Jasper head coach Thomas Brooks returns to Tyler for the first time after leaving John Tyler as head coach following the 2006 season to return to Jasper. “It's going to be a tough one right off the bat,” according to Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor.

September 5: Rains

The Buckeyes' home opener will also serve as homecoming this season. “Don't think they won't be fired up about that,” said Traylor. “Nobody likes to be a homecoming mum.” Gilmer won both games against the Wildcats as District 11-3A foes in 2002 and 2003. New Rains head coach Brannon Kidd hopes to continue the success of former coach Ken Little, who took the Wildcats to three consecutive playoff appearances.

September 12: Liberty-Eylau

“Liberty-Eylau, that's all you've got to say,” promised Traylor. Despite the Buckeyes 41-26 victory in the first round of the playoffs last season, Gilmer is still smarting from the Leopards' stunning upset over the number one ranked Buckeyes in round one of the 2006 playoffs. This game will be a serious threat for what should be a 26-game home winning streak.

September 19: at Kilgore

Texas commit Dominique Jones headlines a Bulldog team that returns seven starters on each side of the football after a 9-3 season last year. “Everybody has picked them to be one of the best teams in 4A this year,” said Traylor. The Buckeyes are 0-3 all- time against the Bulldogs, whom they last faced in 1997 when the teams were district rivals.

September 26: at Daingerfield

If it wasn't for the Tigers' 26-17 win over the Buckeyes in 2005, Gilmer would be riding a 55-game regular season winning streak. “That's where our streak was stopped,” said Traylor, who got revenge and his first-ever win in Daingerfield the following year, and would like nothing more than winning two in a row. That won't be easy, as the Tigers return 12 starters from a 9-3 team.

October 10: Bullard

Following an open week, the Buckeyes start District 17-3A play at home against the Panthers, who enjoyed their first winning season in six years with last year's 6-4 record. The Panthers return 13 starters from that team. “Their quarterback is a division one prospect,” said Traylor, in reference to Charlie Moore, who accounted for more than 2,000 yards of total offense and 23 touchdowns. The Buckeyes haven't faced the Panthers since defeating Bullard in District 16-3A play in 1998 and 1999.

October 17: at Chapel Hill

“Circle that one. That one is going to be tough,” advised Traylor about the Buckeyes’ trip to Chapel Hill during the Yamboree. The fried foods and carnival rides aren't Traylor's main concern though, it's Bulldogs' running back Michael Tucker who is Class 3A's returning rushing leader with 2,300 yards and 28 touchdowns from last year. The Buckeyes are 0-4 all-time against the Bulldogs. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1970.

October 24: Spring Hill

The Panthers gave Traylor a loss in his first district game in 2000, but since then the Buckeyes are 4-0 against the Panthers, including last season's 65-7 win. Spring Hill returns 10 starters from last year's 7-4 team. “I think that game means as much to the people of Gilmer as any of them,” stated Traylor.

October 31: Gladewater

Orange and Black on Halloween night; what could be more appropriate for the Buckeyes’ final home game of the season? Gilmer's 53-17 victory over the Bears last year evened the all- time series at 25-25-2. The Buckeyes have owned the series recently, going 15-2 since 1991. “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,” said Traylor. “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.”

November 7: at Tatum

The Eagles have appeared in three straight state championship games, and own a 41-4 record during that span, but two of those losses came in embarrassing defeats to the Buckeyes. No loss was more humbling than last year's 72-28 score in a non-district match up in Tyler. Now Tatum has the Buckeyes at home in a showdown likely to decide the district championship. Gilmer hasn't played in Tatum since the 2000 season. That's also the last time the Buckeyes lost a district game.

Gilmer's season opener declared 'Marquee Matchup'

Buck Cargal’s has declared the Jasper-Gilmer rematch as one of the few “Marquee Matchups” of Week Zero.

“Marquee Matchups” are considered games that any fan would want to go for the quality of play and competitiveness, even if they did not have ties to either school.

Cargal’s site rates Gilmer as a 7-point favorite with a power rating of 154.25 up against Jasper’s 147.24.

As the season begins, Gilmer has the highest rating in its new district with Tyler Chapel Hill rated second at 149.88.

Tatum, Bullard, Spring Hill and Gladewater are ranked third through sixth in District 17-3A.

Gilmer is No. 5 in Region III as the season begins, ranked behind Navasota, La Vega, West Orange-Stark and Diboll.

Cargal ranks the Buckeyes as No. 15 statewide. (The AP poll of sportswriters gives Gilmer, with a record of 14-1 in 2007 falling only to Liberty Hill in the Class 3A Division I title game, a bit more respect at No. 10.)

Darian “Stump” Godfrey is rated by as one of the top skill position players returning this season. The junior Gilmer QB passed for 2,727 yards (187-296-4; 38 TDs) in 2007.

Kickoff of the Jasper-Gilmer game in Tyler, opener of the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic, is set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28.

Buckeyes dominate New Boston in final scrimmage


Following Gilmer's 5-touchdown victory over Atlanta in the Buckeyes' first scrimmage last week, Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor admitted that the score was misleading. “I was a little disappointed. We were sloppier than I thought we were going to be,” Traylor said at the time.

So what did Traylor think of Thursday's (August 21) 6-touchdown victory over the New Boston Lions at Buckeye Stadium? “Last week the score was not an indication of how we played. This week was a true indication of how well we played."

Gilmer's offense piled up 467 total yards on 63 plays, suffering only one turnover while scoring six touchdowns. The Buckeyes' defense held the Lions to 279 total yards on 75 plays, while forcing three turnovers.

And while Gilmer's defense did not surrender a touchdown in either scrimmage; Traylor praised the unit's improvement from last week. “I thought we were much more physical. I thought we ran to the ball a lot better.”

Gilmer's defense was on display at the beginning of the controlled portion of the scrimmage, limiting New Boston to only 66 yards on their first 21 plays. The Buckeyes' Zach Jones forced the first Lion's turnover when he intercepted a pass on the seventh play and would have had an easy touchdown return had it not been for the controlled possession, which gave the ball back to New Boston.

Gilmer's offense started the scrimmage with an impressive 10-play scoring drive that covered 70 yards, and ended on a 1-yard touchdown run from Vance Green.

The Buckeyes' second drive was more customary for Gilmer fans, covering 70 yards in only 3 plays as quarterback Stump Godfrey hit Prentiss Bell for the second touchdown.

After the Lions’ second series of plays yielded only 67 yards on 23 plays, Gilmer's offense punched in two more scores on a 3-yard run by Marlon Granville and an 11-yard pass from Luke Turner to Bell to close out the controlled portion of the scrimmage.

The two teams then played two quarters of game situation football, with New Boston getting the ball first. After gaining only 16 yards on five plays, the Buckeyes took possession on the Lions' 46-yard line when a New Boston pass fell incomplete on fourth down.

Gilmer scored five plays later on a Jeremy Jackson 1-yard run to make the score 7-0 after Adan Olivares' extra point kick was good.

The Buckeyes' defense forced a quick three-and-out on the Lions' next series, giving the football back to the offense at the New Boston 47-yard line following the Lions' 11-yard punt.

Gilmer moved quickly down the field, only to have the drive stopped at the 6-yard line when New Boston intercepted a tipped ball.

The Buckeyes' D.J. Stanley returned the favor 5 plays later intercepting a Lions' pass at his own 35-yard line and returning it to the New Boston 28-yard line.

Seven plays later, Godfrey found receiver Daniel McClaren in the corner of the end zone with a 3-yard touchdown pass. Olivares' kick made the score 14-0 with 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The final quarter started with the Buckeyes' Turner recovering a Lions' fumble at the New Boston 44-yard line, but the Gilmer offense sputtered on what turned out to be their final possession, punting to the Lions four plays later.

Despite the final series' stall, Traylor thought his offense played much better this week. “We were much crisper. We executed so much better. That was good to see.” But will it be enough to win the season opener at the fifth annual Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic at Tyler's Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium? “The kids responded well,” replied Traylor. “But they're going to have their work cut out for them next week because Jasper is a lot better than Atlanta or New Boston.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S VANCE GREEN charges through the gaping hole in the New Boston defense. Usually a defensive stalwart, Green got a chance to practice short-yardage rushing during Thursday’s scrimmage with the Lions.The Buckeyes open their season Thursday, Aug. 28, against Jasper at the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic in Tyler.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gilmer hosts New Boston on Thursday, Aug. 21


The Gilmer Buckeyes host the New Boston Lions in their final pre-season scrimmage Thursday night (Aug. 21) at Buckeye Stadium. Freshmen and junior varsity teams will compete on opposite sides of the field starting at 6 p.m. followed by the varsity squads at approximately 7:15 p.m.

The varsity squads will play twenty plays against each other's first team, followed by 15 plays against each other's second team. After the controlled scrimmage, the teams will play a game-situation half.

Buckeyes head coach Jeff Traylor expects improvement over Saturday's scrimmage against Atlanta. “We huddled up for a whole scrimmage; that's a tremendous disadvantage for us,” offered Traylor. “Every scrimmage we've ever done where we have to huddle we don't play well. Once you take us out of the huddle, we play pretty good. I fully expect us to play better Thursday night when we get to the game situation half.”

Traylor also expects the Lions, who moved back up to class 3A after a two-year hiatus in Class 2A, to provide the Buckeyes with a challenge. “This will be our third straight year to scrimmage them, and Rick Barker always does a good job with his teams,” said Traylor.

Barker is one of the few coaches that has ever recorded a win against Traylor, when his Pleasant Grove team defeated the Buckeyes in the 2001 playoffs.

Traylor said the Buckeyes need the experience. “We're not where I want to be. We need to play a bunch of football before we play Jasper, but this scrimmage is all we have.”

Buckeyes' scrimmage reveals concerns


Gilmer Buckeyes' head coach Jeff Traylor warns Buckeyes' fans to not read too much into Gilmer's 5-0 touchdown margin over the Atlanta Rabbits in Saturday's (Aug. 16) scrimmage.

“I was a little disappointed,” admitted Traylor. “We were sloppier than I thought we were going to be. We just didn't execute very well; we weren't very crisp.”

The Buckeyes' first string offense faced the Rabbits first string defense the first 20 plays of the controlled scrimmage. Gilmer managed 162 total yards and a touchdown when returning junior quarterback Stump Godfrey hit Zack Jones on a 55-yard pass on the eighth play.

The Buckeyes also suffered three turnovers in their first 10 plays; two fumbles and one interception on a tipped pass.

“All three of them you can attribute to lack of concentration;” said Traylor. “So we hope that we can clean that up. Obviously that is a huge concern.” Another concern for Traylor was the play of his defense, which gave up 90 rushing yards on only 12 carries.

“Defensively, we didn't run to the ball very well; we didn't tackle very well. We just looked pretty soft,” Traylor stated.

Soft is not how to describe the next 34 plays of the scrimmage which pitted the second-string players from both teams. Gilmer dominated that portion of the scrimmage, gaining 336 yards and scoring four touchdowns in only 19 plays, while Atlanta could only manage 26 yards on 15 plays.

The Buckeyes' back-up quarterbacks, junior Braylon Webb and freshman Luke Turner combined for 242 yards on 9 of 12 passes with 3 touchdowns. Webb hit Ben Griffith from 53 yards out, and Prentiss Bell on a 34-yard touchdown, while Turner found Zack Jones on a 54-yard touchdown throw on his very first varsity snap. Marlon Granville had a 70-yard touchdown run for the Buckeyes to round out the scoring.

“We've got great depth. Our two's were significantly better than their two's. But our one's were even,” reminded Traylor, who is counting on his players to make the necessary changes. “I've got a bunch of great kids that want to be good. They'll be fine, I just don't know when they will be fine.”

With their opening game of the season only a week ahead, and a strong pre-district schedule looming, Traylor is worried. “We've got a lot to do, and not much time to get good, but we've got to. We've just got to hurry because we're playing some really good people very soon.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S ZACK JONES, right, heads up field on his 55-yard touchdown run with an escort of Paul Chesnut, left, and Hunter Harrison. Gilmer scrimmaged with Atlanta Saturday under the watchful eye of Buckeye fans. The scrimmage was moved here from Atlanta’s grass field because of the inclement weather forecast.

Buckeyes' in-stadium broadcasts to feature new technology


The Gilmer Buckeyes will become one of only five Texas high schools to feature a specialized audio system for in-stadium broadcasts this football season.

The Gilmer Athletic Booster Club purchased the system from Smart Bug Corporation of Jefferson with the total cost shared between Etex Telephone and Gilmer National Bank. The new system will replace the poor quality FM transmitter used to broadcast the Buckeyes' play-by-play signal to regular FM radio receivers. The new audio system delivers a clear signal up to one-half mile.

To receive the broadcast signal, fans must purchase a special receiver called a Buckeye Bug for $20. The receiver is specially programmed to tune in to the Buckeyes' broadcast in the stadium and will work at both home and away games. All proceeds from sales of the Buckeye Bug will go to the Gilmer Athletic Booster Club, and will be used for scholarships and needed equipment for all Gilmer athletes.

The Buckeye Bug is about the size of a small cell phone and clips easily onto a belt, pocket, or purse. The Buckeye Bug comes with a soft-covered earplug for comfortable listening, and is powered by two standard AAA batteries, which typically last up to 40 hours when in continuous use.

The Buckeye Bugs will be available for purchase before the Buckeyes scrimmage against New Boston Thursday evening and before all football games this season. The Buckeye Bugs will also be available at the athletic department secretary's office in the field house.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Season tickets to go on sale

Season tickets for the 2008 Gilmer Buckeye football season will be sold from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 18 to 22 in the field house at the north end of Buckeye Stadium.

Current season ticket holders may purchase their seats for $25 each.

Tickets for the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic, in which the Buckeyes will face the Jasper Bulldogs, will also be available to the general public Aug. 18 to 22.

The game will be played on Thursday, Aug. 28, at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. All seating is reserved, and ticket prices are $8 for adults and $6 for students. All tickets will be $10 at the stadium.

Ticket information will be updated each week on the Buckeye Ticket Line at 903-841-7777.

2008 Gilmer High School Media Day

Friday, August 15, 2008

Scrimmage Saturday against Atlanta MOVED from Atlanta to Buckeye Stadium in Gilmer

The Gilmer Buckeyes will host the Atlanta Rabbits on Saturday morning, Aug. 16, here in Gilmer at Buckeye Stadium in a last-minute switch of location. The freshmen/junior varsity scrimmages begin at 9 a.m. with the varsity following at approximately 10 a.m.

Buckeyes take on Atlanta in first scrimmage


The Gilmer Buckeyes start their pre-season schedule Saturday with a scrimmage at Atlanta. Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor said the Rabbits are the perfect team to prepare his young squad for the season. “We just like playing good people who are close, and can run,” said Traylor. “Obviously Atlanta is probably one of the top three speed teams in the state of Texas.”

The Rabbits finished as the Class 3A runner-up in this spring’s state track meet, complementing their three state championships in track this decade. And while the football team has struggled in recent years, the Rabbits are one of only five teams to beat the Buckeyes the past five seasons.

Atlanta ended Gilmer’s 2003 season in the regional final en route to a state championship. Since that game, the Buckeyes have a 50-4 record, while the Rabbits have gone 13-29. Rabbits’ new head coach Ronnie Melton will try to return the program to glory. Despite the change in head coach, Traylor believes the Rabbits’ schemes will remain the same. “They’ve changed coaches, but it’s a guy from within the same staff so we expect it to be pretty similar.”

This scrimmage follows what Traylor called, a “really good” first week of practice. “It’s kind of hard to tell because you are working so many kids; trying to develop a lot of depth,” Traylor said. “It’s kind of hard to give a grade, but I would say that I am pleased.”

Gilmer’s freshmen and junior varsity teams will start the scrimmage on opposite sides of the field at 9 a.m. The freshmen offense and JV defense will take the field first for a 50-play scrimmage.

The varsity teams will follow with a 70-play scrimmage starting with the Buckeyes’ offense facing the Rabbits’ defense. Following the scrimmage, both teams will practice their punt coverage and extra-point teams.

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
AT MEET THE BUCKEYES Saturday evening (Aug. 9), Athletic Director Jeff Traylor introduces his seniors to the audience, including team captains Dakota Hagler (54), D.J. Stanley (12), Hunter Harrison (behind Stanley) and Zack Jones (7). Sitting by the Buckeyes are members of the Lady Buckeyes Volleyball team. The Buckeyes scrimmage Atlanta there on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Coach Traylor talks to Rotarians about football and also life

For the ninth straight year, Buckeye Head Coach Jeff Traylor on Tuesday (Aug. 5) gave a preseason talk to the Gilmer Rotary Club. This year, he provided a deeply personal view of how he sees the role he and other coaches play.

The Gilmer varsity will be trying for an eighth straight district championship and a second state championship, the coach said.

But this is not the record he and the other coaches will be judged by, he added.

“My record will be decided 20 years from now,” he said, adding that a win for him will be if today’s players are leading constructive lives.

Traylor traced his current philosophy back to 1994, when he attended a Promise Keepers rally at the Astrodome in Houston and found his life changed. This put him on a mission to be a great father, and changed the way he coached, he said.

Two years ago, Gilmer lost a bi-district game to Liberty-Eylau, which Traylor saw as an inferior team, and was eliminated from the state playoffs. “God dropped me on my knees,” he said.

Subsequently he took his wife to a “coaches’ outreach” retreat that was aimed at helping wives understand a coach’s mission. While there, he passed out, hit his head and had to be hospitalized. He learned that stress was taking a toll, and he knew he had to slow down. And, he added, he knew he had to do a better job.

He began a Bible study for Gilmer coaches that meets at 6:15 a.m. each Friday. And he arranged for 13 coaches and their wives to attend one of the coaches’ outreach sessions.

He said the wives learned what it meant as football season starts, and he’s about to be gone for four months. “It’s a mission of ours,” he explained.

Coach Traylor said he believes many of today’s boys and girls are being left behind, not having a father’s influence.

“They need coaches to stand in for them,” he said.

Starting this season, he said, the Buckeyes “have lost a ton of players,” and they’re facing their toughest schedule ever.

The coach brought with him and introduced this year’s four co-captains, all seniors: Dakota Hagler, lineman; Hunter Harrison, wide receiver; Zack Jones, cornerback, and D.J. Stanley, cornerback.

He said these are the team’s leaders, and he meets with them after practice each Monday night.

The coach said he tells the Buckeyes that “pressure is a privilege.” He said the team is not about a single player dominating, no matter how good he is. All have a selfless attitude, he added, and this goes along with having coaches who try to play as many players as they can.

Traylor was introduced by Rotarian Randy McDaniel, who commented that coach Traylor has “put Gilmer back on the map.” But, he said, he also appreciated him for other things. He said extracurricular actvities have the ability to influence young people, and “it’s what the program leaves with the kid” that matters. He said Coach Traylor is putting out an excellent product, and deserves more credit for that.

Several members of the National League all Stars visited the club and presented President Randy Hill with a baseball signed by all members in appreciation for the club’s support in their trip to the Dixie Youth Baseball League state championship.

Mirror Photo
COACH JEFF TRAYLOR on the sideline at Buckeye Stadium in October 2000, his first year at the helm in Gilmer. The Buckeyes have not lost a district game since.


Mama Jackie's Passing Leaves Buckeyes, Fans Grieving

Gilmer Buckeyes Reloading Not Rebuilding

Friday, August 08, 2008

Unheralded Buckeyes begin preparations with 'chip on shoulder'


Eighty-nine Buckeyes reported to Buckeye Stadium Monday (Aug. 4) to start preparations for the 2008 football season. The first practice session was from 6 to 7:30 p.m. followed by another practice from 8:30 until 10 p.m. Forty-two freshmen reported to practice on Tuesday morning.

With only six starters returning from last year’s state finalist team, Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor said that the emphasis of practice has changed from the last two seasons.

“Our big focus right now is to try to become two-deep everywhere,” said Traylor. “This is much like 2004 and 2005 where we lost so many kids the year before. Last year we pretty much hit the ground running.”

Traylor said that despite the high temperatures, no serious heat-related problems were reported. “Our kids did a great job in summer workouts,” commented Traylor. “All of our kids reported in shape. We probably had two or three cramps during practice.”

Despite only five losses the previous five years and two trips to the state championship game, the Buckeyes find themselves outside of most pre-season polls.

“This team doesn’t have the buzz the last two teams have had so they already have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder because people aren’t talking about them,” stated Traylor. “People said the same thing about us in 2004 and that team did pretty good.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE finds Ben Griffith in the “Beat L-E” tee shirt practicing against Paul Chesnut as the Buckeye special team’s players practice the “jam drill.” Fall is just around the corner, with all the county’s high schools starting football practice Monday. The Buckeyes will face Jasper in the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic in Tyler Thursday night, Aug. 28, to open the season.

'Meet the Buckeyes' on Saturday, Aug. 9


The annual Meet the Buckeyes community event will be held Saturday starting at 7 p.m. at Buckeye Stadium. In addition to meeting the 2008 Buckeye football teams, fans will be introduced to this year’s cheerleaders, Stars drill team members, cross country teams, and girl’s volleyball team.

Gilmer head football coach Jeff Traylor said that the event is the highlight of the first week of practice. “It’s just a great event at the end of a tough week,” said Traylor. “It just reminds them of why they do what they do. Kids are kids and you have to give them something to remember why they do all of this hard work.”

The event at Buckeye Stadium is actually the climax of a very busy day for the football team. “We start selling the discount cards that day. We get our pictures taken for the local media that day, and we meet with the parents that night,” explained Traylor.

“The crowd shows up; they get their picture in the paper; they get to eat; those are fun things for a kid. Those are memories they get to keep the rest of their life,” Traylor said.

“For the fans and the coaches, this is something we do every year, but for these kids; it’s their first time as a freshman or it’s their last time as a senior. That’s what you’ve got to remember, that’s why you come out for those kids.”

Meet the Buckeyes

Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008

Buckeye Stadium

12:00 Buckeye Cards

3:00 Varsity FB pictures

4:00 JV FB pictures

4:30 9th grade FB pictures

5:30 Band and Stars Eat

6:00 Cheerleaders and Cross Country Eat

6:15 Volleyball and Football Teams Eat

7:00 Band and Stars march into stadium

7:10 National Anthem

7:15 Stars perform

7:20 Varsity and JV Cheerleaders – Fight Song

7:25 Majorettes perform

7:30 Introduce female coaches

7:35 Introduce varsity volleyball team

7:40 Introduction of Varsity FB Coaches

7:45 Introduce Varsity Football Soph/Jrs

7:50 Introduce Cross Country Team

7:55 Varsity Cheerleaders Dance

8:00 Introduction of Varsity FB Seniors Recognition of 9th/JV Football teams

8:10 School Song

8:15 Parent’s meeting (7-12 grade football)-Cafeteria Volleyball Parent’s meeting-Gymnasium

Monday, August 04, 2008

Buckeyes to begin practices


The Gilmer Buckeyes football team will begin practice Monday, Aug. 4. Sophomores through seniors are expected to report to the field house at 4:30 p.m. with practice starting at 6 p.m. and running until 7:30 p.m. Following a one hour break, practice will resume from 8:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. All practices will be held at Buckeye Stadium.
Freshmen football players should report to the field house Tuesday at 8 a.m. with practice starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 11 a.m.
Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor encourages Buckeyes' fans to watch practice.
The Buckeyes’ first scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 16, at Atlanta. Gilmer starts the regular season schedule on Thursday, Aug. 28, against Jasper in the East Texas Football Classic at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler.