Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gilmer 49, Daingerfield 18

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes hand Tigers first loss of season, 49-18

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Gilmer Buckeyes Humble Daingerfield Tigers

From The Gilmer Mirror

Buckeyes rewrite record book with 49-18 win at Daingerfield


Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor and quarterback Stump Godfrey added their names to the school record book Friday night with the Buckeyes 49-18 win over the Daingerfield Tigers. Traylor tied Henry McClelland for most career wins with his 89th victory, while Godfrey passed Manuel Johnson for career touchdown passes.

For Traylor the accomplishment was especially meaningful coming at Daingerfield, where Traylor lived while his father taught at the school. “It's special to me,” said Traylor. “I lived in Gilmer until I was five and then I moved here and stayed here until I was in junior high and then I moved back to Gilmer. People that taught me in elementary and Sunday school came up and congratulated me.”

Traylor admitted that his accomplishment meant more to him when he realized how many people it affected. “It means a lot to my mother and my father, my children, my coaches; because I know that is something they will always be associated with. It really didn't mean as much to me until I started hearing my family talk about it, it started to mean a little more as it got closer.”

Godfrey has quarterbacked the Buckeyes to 18 of Traylor's 89 victories, and entered the game tied with Johnson with 48 career touchdown passes. The junior's five touchdown passes against the Tigers leaves him with 53 for his career. “It feels great,” confessed Godfrey. “Manuel, G.J.[Kinne], and Derek [McKenzie]; those are big shoes to fill.”

“I'm very happy for Stump,” Traylor said. “He works very hard at it. He will be the first one to tell you that there have been a lot of great kids catching balls. The quarterback is always as good as the team is, and Stump's been on two great teams, and Stump is a great player.”

Coming off the Buckeyes' first regular season loss in three seasons, Godfrey played the best game of his young career completing 15 of 19 passes for 290 yards and running for 108 yards and 1 touchdown on 15 carries.

“I was in a drought the last two games,” admitted Godfrey, who accounted for all four turnovers in the Buckeyes' loss to Kilgore last week. “It felt good; we left on a good note. We didn't want to leave it the same when we left Kilgore.”

Daingerfield head coach Barry Bowman wasn't surprised with Godfrey's accomplishment. “In my opinion he's the best quarterback that we've seen in my four years here,” praised Bowman. “He's the best I've seen, and sad thing is for us, he's got another year.”

Godfrey had a lot of help, as Dangerfield started the game with a fumble on the opening kickoff that the Buckeyes recovered at the Tigers' 23-yard line. Three plays later, Godfrey scored from 6 yards out with only 57 seconds off the clock. Adan Olivares kicked the first of his seven extra points for a 7-0 Gilmer lead.

Godfrey's touchdown was the first opening series that the Buckeyes had scored on all season. “When they fumbled the kickoff and everything went our way,” said senior receiver Hunter Harrison, who was one of five different Gilmer receivers with a touchdown catch in the game.

After managing only seven yards in their first six plays, the Tigers punted to the Buckeyes, who took possession at their own 26-yard line. Four plays later Godfrey hit a wide-open Zack Jones for a 61-yard touchdown extending Gilmer's lead to 14-0 with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter.

Following another short series by Daingerfield, the Buckeyes started their third possession at the Tigers' own 49-yard line after a nice punt return by Tristan Holt. This time it took Godfrey five plays to register another touchdown pass, this one from 17 yards out to Prentiss Bell who was well covered by two defenders.

The Tigers seemed to wake up after falling behind 21-0, taking their next possession down to the Buckeyes' 9-yard line before giving the ball back to Gilmer following a Gus Osborne sack of Tyler Boyd on fourth down early in the second quarter. “Gus Osborne probably made the play of the game, sacking the quarterback on fourth down when they were still in it,” praised Traylor.

The Buckeyes drove the football down to the Daingerfield 10-yard line before a crushing hit on Godfrey forced a Buckeyes' fumble at the Tigers' 13-yard line.

Once again the Buckeyes' Black Flag Defense rose to the challenge and stopped the Tigers' drive with another tackle for loss on fourth down, giving the Gilmer offense the football at their own 43-yard line.

Two plays later, Godfrey hit Harrison from 47-yards out to give the Buckeyes a 28-0 advantage with 3:02 to play in the first half.

Harrison gave the credit for the score to the defense. “We know they are going to give us the ball in good field position so we can do our thing.”

Gilmer's defense forced a three-and-out series by the Tigers on their next possession, giving Gilmer's offense the football back just 47 seconds after their last score.
This time the Buckeyes' offense took things slowly, covering the 58-yards in 10 plays and 2:11 off the clock, before Godfrey connected with his cousin Tevin Godfrey on an 11-yard touchdown with only 4 seconds left in the first half. Gilmer took at 35-0 lead into halftime.

The Buckeyes took the second-half kick-off from the Tigers and scored 9 plays later when Godfrey found a diving Daniel McLaren in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown to push the lead to 42-0 with 8:38 remaining in the third quarter.

Following a one yard touchdown run by Daingerfield quarterback Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds to play in the third quarter, the Buckeyes finished their scoring barrage with a 6-yard touchdown run from Marlon Granville to make the score 49-6 with 10:19 remaining in the game.

Daingerfield scored twice in the fourth quarter on another run by Boyd with 5:21 to play and on a Boyd pass to David Mims with only 10 seconds left on the clock, making the final score much closer than the actual contest.

“This was the best football team we'll see this year,” said the Tigers' Bowman, who admitted that the Buckeyes' loss to Kilgore the week before didn't help his team. “I knew that the intensity level of Gilmer would be really high coming into our game, coming off the loss.”

“My kids responded great from the defeat. Daingerfield caught us on a bad night,” agreed Traylor, who said the win meant more since the Buckeyes were without five starters for the game. “We played without some of our very best players and the kids that took their places had great games. Everybody did their job well; it's a credit to our coaching staff and our players.”

Gilmer senior D.J. Stanley confirmed Traylor's thoughts. “We've got pretty good depth and we know the program is bigger than just one player, so we just had to have people step in their spot and make big plays.”

Traylor summed up the Buckeyes' pre-district schedule as his team heads into an off week. “By far the toughest non-district schedule we've played since I've been here and the kids responded great. Before the season, if you had told me we'd be 4-1, we would have taken it. We're very disappointed in the way we played in Kilgore, but it was a great learning experience and we wouldn't have played as well tonight.”

Scoring Summary
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total
Gilmer 21 14 7 7 49
Daingerfield 0 0 6 12 18

Bounty Hunter of the Week: D.J. Stanley
Special Teams Player of the Week: Adan Olivares
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Week: B.J. Moses
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Roy Chambers

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER QB STUMP GODFREY threw for five touchdowns and ran for another in the Buckeyes’ 49-18 win over Daingerfield there last Friday night.

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Gilmer QB accounts for six touchdowns


Buckeyes vs Daingerfield

Daingerfield Tigers

Friday, September 26, 2008

Buckeyes' road test continues at Daingerfield


The second longest regular season winning streak in Gilmer history ended last Friday with the Buckeyes' 28-14 loss to Kilgore after winning their past 27 regular season games. Before the loss to Kilgore, Gilmer's last defeat came at Daingerfield three years ago when the Tigers ended the Buckeyes’ longest regular season winning streak at 30 games.

The challenge facing this year's team is quite different from the one that faced the 2005 team according to Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor. “The last time we lost a regular season football game we had an open week and then a game against Sabine. This time we're going to Daingerfield,” said Traylor, who needs two wins to become his alma mater's winningest coach.

Getting one of those wins against Class 2A’s 8th-ranked Daingerfield Tigers won't be easy to do. “We might play our best game Friday and get beat; Daingerfield is that good,” exclaimed Traylor. “They remind me of the teams they had in the early 2000s when we first started playing them.”

That's bad news for Buckeye fans who remember Traylor's teams going 1-2 against the Tigers in his first three seasons. Gilmer fans may also recall some of the names on the Tigers' current roster. “They're all names you've heard of before; Hurndon, Mims and Evans. Those are names you've heard in Daingerfield forever, that you're seeing back out there again, so you know what kind of kids those are,” Traylor said.

Hurndon, Mims and Evans are the same names that populated Daingerfield's roster in the 1980s when the Tigers went 114-15-4 and won two state championships. Now Tiger faithful are starting to talk about a return to those glory years after this year's Tigers pulled off the biggest upset of the 2008 season two weeks ago when Daingerfield ended the Class 3A Celina Bobcats' 10-year home winning streak with a 28-20 victory against the then-2nd-ranked Bobcats.

“It was a great win; everybody is talking about it, the media is talking about it and the community is talking about it, but we've got to go on,” said new Tigers' head coach Barry Bowman. “We've got to move on from that because we didn't play very well this past Friday night. We were really flat and we just didn't have a very good ball game.”

It was good enough for a 29-12 win over Class 3A Commerce, giving the Tigers a 4-0 record for the first time since 2005. That was the year Bowman came to Daingerfield as the Tigers' offensive coordinator. After serving in that capacity for two seasons, Bowman switched sides to defensive coordinator in 2007 before taking over the reins when Randall Hugg left after four seasons at the Tigers' helm.

“Barry's done a great job in getting the kids out to play football again in Daingerfield,” praised Traylor. “They're so deep. They're not playing hardly any kids both ways, and their backups don't even play both ways, they just have a lot of depth.”
Bowman said the turnaround started last season in the Tigers’ 35-12 loss at Buckeye Stadium. “The second half of that game we thought that we began to grow up a little bit as a football team,” said Bowman about the Tigers who finished 9-3 last season. “That was a turning point for us.”

The turning point for the Buckeyes' rivalry with Daingerfield came when Traylor took over the Gilmer program in 2000. In the 25 years before Traylor, the Buckeyes had only three wins against the Tigers. In eight seasons under Traylor Gilmer has six wins against Daingerfield.

“Jeff and his staff do a great job,” said Bowman, who warned his players not to believe the talk about a down year for the Buckeyes this season. “Everybody tried to get us to buy into the fact that since they graduated the talented senior class that Gilmer had last year, that this was going to be a bit of a down year. But from the things I've seen on film, I don't see this as being a down year in Gilmer at all.”
While the 10th-ranked Buckeyes are 3-1 on the season, Gilmer did suffer a loss to Kilgore last week, only their second regular season loss in the past six seasons. “I'll be interested to see how we respond playing our second road game in another hostile environment,” Traylor admitted.

Bowman said the Buckeyes will be ready. “I fully expect that whatever mistakes Coach Traylor and his staff feel that they made in the ball game will be corrected and I'm sure that their focus and concentration may be just a little bit extra this week due to the fact that they did lose last week,” said Bowman.

Traylor agreed with Bowman. “I will be shocked if we don't play better Friday. We know Daingerfield is a great opponent, and we know how hard it's going to be to win over there, but we know that we are going to play a lot better.”

“We have three keys going into this game: be tougher than them, do your job and keep your composure,” continued Traylor. “In big games it’s always about being tough, because there is going to be big hits. And when you get in big games you want to do a little bit more, and you can't, you've got to do your job. We have to do our jobs better. We lost our composure a little bit [against Kilgore]. We didn't do the small things that matter.”

That will be important if the Buckeyes are to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time since Traylor's first season. That year it was Daingerfield who whipped the Buckeyes 35-14 the week following Gilmer's loss to Spring Hill.

Traylor said that the Tigers’ offense is as good as the 2000 and 2002 teams that went three and five rounds deep in the playoffs respectively. “Their offensive line is very athletic all the way across the front,” said Traylor about the Tigers' senior dominated offensive line.

That line has provided protection for sophomore quarterback Tyler Boyd (5-10, 175) and junior running back KoKo Smith (5-10, 185), who lead Daingerfield's offensive attack which averages 30 points per game.

Defensively, Tigers' senior linebacker Julius Hurndon (5-10, 170) is the star of a defense that allows only 11.5 points per game. In the upset of Celina, Hurndon had a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown that gave Daingerfield the lead, and then an interception at his own 5-yard line with thirty seconds to play to seal the Tigers' victory. “I'm extremely impressed with their athletic ability and how they run to the football,” commented Traylor.

Traylor is well aware of the challenge facing his Buckeyes, since Traylor has only left Tiger Stadium with one win in his entire playing and coaching career.
“To win in Daingerfield, you're going to have to play really good. I expect to play really good Friday night, I don't know if that's going to be enough, but I expect us to play really well Friday night.”

Game Notes
• Daingerfield leads the all-time series against Gilmer with a 30-22-0 record.
• Gilmer has won the last three meetings between the two teams.
• Gilmer quarterback Stump Godfrey has 48 career touchdown passes and needs one touchdown pass to become Gilmer's career leader, passing Manuel Johnson.
• Gilmer quarterback Stump Godfrey needs 134 passing yards to move past G.J. Kinne for 3rd place in school history.
• Gilmer quarterback Stump Godfrey needs 32 total yards to move past Jamell Kennedy for 4th place in school history.

Bounty Hunter of the Week: Ben Griffith
Special Teams Player of the Week: D.J. Stanley
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Exavian Johnson
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Ben Martin

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
KILGORE’S FRANK REDDIC, touted by some as the best running back in East Texas, piles into the Gilmer line behind the blocks of John Swanson (75) and Taylor Carter (44) on Gilmer’s Marlon Granville (20) and Hayden Holmes (33). Reddic led all rushers in Kilgore’s win over Gilmer last Friday night. The Buckeyes attempt to return to the win column Friday night on the road against the Daingerfield Tigers.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kilgore 28, Gilmer 14

From the Longview News-Journal:

Bulldogs bite Buckeyes, 28-14

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Kilgore Takes Down Gilmer Buckeyes

From the Kilgore News Herald:

Kilgore runs Gilmer out of town

From The Gilmer Mirror:

Buckeyes' streak ends with 28-14 loss at Kilgore


The Gilmer Buckeyes came into Friday's game at Kilgore with a 27-game regular season winning streak. The Buckeyes left Kilgore with four turnovers and a humbling 28-14 loss. “It's my fault. It's my team, and it's my fault,” said Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor. “We did exactly what you can't do to beat a really good 4A football team.” Like two fumbles, two interceptions, two bad snaps that resulted in two safeties, and two break downs in pass coverage that set up Kilgore scores.

“You've got to give Kilgore credit,” admitted Traylor. “When you play a great team, that's what happens. It was like a playoff atmosphere except that you were on the opponent's home field.” That home field advantage was too much for Traylor's young team to overcome. “It was the first time this team had been put into a hostile situation, and the hostile situation was way too much,” he said.

Despite the homecoming crowd of over 8,500 fans, the Buckeyes' defense didn't seem bothered, as they stopped the Bulldogs’ first drive after nine plays and 31 yards, forcing a punt that rolled out of bounds at the Buckeyes' 11-yard line.

Four plays later, a disturbing trend continued for the Buckeyes as the first possession ended in a turnover when Gilmer quarterback Stump Godfrey was stripped of the football at the Gilmer 28-yard line. In the season's first four games, three of the Buckeyes' first possessions have ended in turnovers, while another one ended after a fumbled snap on fourth down turned the ball over on downs. Once again the Gilmer defense rose to the challenge and kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone, forcing Kilgore's Ryan Bustin to attempt a 38-yard field goal. The kick sailed wide right, giving Gilmer the football back with 2:46 to play in the first quarter.

“Defense played well. They came in and bailed us out when we needed them to, but we just couldn't execute,” said Buckeyes' senior offensive lineman Jared Harborth.

Two plays later, disaster struck for the Buckeyes when Godfrey attempted a handoff to running back Jeremy Jackson who thought that the quarterback was keeping the football. As Godfrey went in one direction, Jackson went in another, and the football bounced to the 5-yard line where Kilgore's Trevor Moon picked up the loose ball and ran into the end zone for the touchdown. Bustin's extra point kick was good, giving the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 2:34 remaining in the first quarter.

“You just can't turn the ball over and give it to them on a short field,” stated Traylor. “Our defense got them off the field, stopped them again, made them miss a field goal; our defense played great,” praised Traylor. “Our defense played good enough for us to win.”

In an ironic twist, the fumble that resulted in Kilgore's touchdown came on the same play that resulted in a Daingerfield defensive touchdown when the Buckeyes' Jamell Kennedy and Justin Johnson dropped the football in Gilmer's last regular season loss at Daingerfield in 2005.

“We just gave it to them, and that's what cost us the game,” Harborth said about the Buckeyes' offense that accounted for only three yards and two fumbles in their first three possessions.

“I can take losing;” said Traylor. “I hate playing bad, and we played a terrible first quarter offensively.”

Gilmer's third series in the opening quarter ended with a Ben Griffith punt to Kilgore's Andrew Ector who fielded the ball off a bounce at his own 38-yard line, broke two tackles and raced down the right sideline before being knocked out of bounds at the Gilmer 10-yard line.

Bulldogs' senior running back Frank Reddic scored on the next play, giving Kilgore a 14-0 lead after Bustin's extra point kick with only 40 seconds left to play in the opening quarter. Reddic finished with 154 yards on 39 carries.

Gilmer's offense finally got on track the next series, thanks in part to 40 yards in defensive penalties against the Bulldogs. A facemask and a late hit penalty on the same play gave the Buckeyes the football at Kilgore's 43-yard line. Godfrey then hit Zack Jones for an 18-yard completion as time expired in the first quarter. Another facemask penalty moved Gilmer to the 10-yard line before Godfrey hit Braylon Webb for a touchdown with 11:04 to play in the second quarter.

Just as momentum looked to have shifted in the Buckeyes' favor, Gilmer gave it right back when a bad snap from center allowed the Bulldogs time to block Adan Olivares' extra point attempt and Kilgore's Javarri Kelly returned it 90 yards for a safety, making the score 16-6.

The Buckeyes' special teams got their revenge on the Bulldogs' next series after Gilmer's defense made a valiant goalline stand. Facing a first and goal from the 6-yard line, the Buckeyes' Black Flag Defense kept Kilgore out of the end zone and forced another field goal attempt by Kilgore's Bustin. The Buckeyes' Tristan Holt broke through the Bulldogs' protection and blocked the 20-yard attempt, giving Gilmer the football at their own 20-yard line with 3:26 remaining in the half.

The Buckeyes' ensuing drive stalled quickly with Gilmer punting to the Bulldogs six plays later with 2:03 to go in the half.

Three plays later, the run-heavy Kilgore offense surprised the Buckeyes when quarterback Steven McBryde dropped back and hit a streaking Andrew Ector, who had gotten behind Gilmer's secondary, for a 60-yard touchdown with 1:11 to play in the first half. Bustin's extra point kick gave the Bulldogs a commanding 23-7 halftime lead.

The Buckeyes' hopes of a second-half comeback were dashed on the half's first series when Gilmer's Griffith prepared to punt deep in his own territory. Another bad snap sailed over Griffith's head and into the Buckeyes' end zone, where Griffith was tackled for another Bulldogs' safety, making the score 25-7.

Unfazed by the offense's struggles, Gilmer's defense forced a three-and-out series on Kilgore's first possession of the second half, returning the football to the Buckeyes' offense in great field position at the Bulldogs' 49-yard line.

This time the Gilmer offense responded with an impressive 10-play scoring drive, aided in part by an 18-yard pass interference penalty against Kilgore. Godfrey connected with Prentiss Bell from six yards out for the touchdown with 6:08 remaining in the third quarter. The Buckeyes lined up for the extra point attempt, but holder Webb took the snap and ran to the right and fired a pass to J.T. Beecham in the end zone for the 2-point conversion, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 25-14.

Kilgore replied with their own scoring drive, covering 73 yards in 14 plays, helped by another big pass from McBryde to Ector for 45-yards. The Buckeyes' defense forced another field goal attempt after a goal line stand that saw the Bulldogs with a first-and-goal at the Gilmer 5-yard line. This time Bustin's kick was good from 7 yards out to give Kilgore a 28-14 lead with 10:29 left in the game.

The Buckeyes continued to make valiant attempts to get back in the game, but their final two drives ended like their first two drives, with turnovers. A 10-play 55-yard drive was halted when Kilgore's C.J. Gary intercepted a Godfrey pass at the Bulldog's 9-yard line with 7:35 to play. Gary also stopped Gilmer's final 7-play 54-yard drive with an interception in the end zone with 2:04 left in the game.

“We could have quit 100 times. You talk about adversity; our kids don't quit. They're amazing,” surmised Traylor, who also praised the Buckeyes' fans. “Our crowd tonight was by far the best I've ever seen. They stayed until the end and cheered for the kids even though we lost.”

Kilgore head coach Mike Vallery said the difference in the game was obvious. “We always say that in big games, the team that turns the football over is the team that's going to lose, and it showed in this game, turnovers will kill you.”

The turnovers definitely killed the Buckeyes' winning streak. But Gilmer senior D.J. Stanley promised that the Buckeyes would not dwell on the loss. “We'll go back to work and see if we can start another winning streak.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER’S PRENTISS BELL follows his blocking after a fourth quarter reception as the Buckeyes try to close the gap on Kilgore.

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Buckeyes vs Kilgore
Buckeyes VS. Kilgore

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kilgore favored over Buckeyes in Bulldogs’ homecoming


The 7th-ranked Gilmer Buckeyes face more than just an unfamiliar opponent Friday night when they meet the Kilgore Bulldogs at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium in Kilgore. The Buckeyes also face two unfamiliar scenarios. Gilmer is Kilgore's homecoming opponent, as well as 2-point underdogs to the Class 4A Bulldogs.

“It's going to be tough,” admitted Buckeyes' head coach Jeff Traylor. “They're the toughest team we've played since we've been here as far as non-district.”
Kilgore enters the game with a 2-1 record, following last week's 28-18 loss at Marshall. That loss is one of only 39 suffered by Kilgore in 13 years under head coach Mike Vallery, who won a state championship in 2004—the same year Gilmer won their only state title.

“Mike's always done a great job,” said Traylor. “His teams always run the ball real well. They always play great defense. They always look good in the special teams. He does a wonderful job and they have a great program.”

Vallery returns the praise to Traylor's team. “I think Gilmer is a lot better football team than they were last year,” said Vallery. Considering that Gilmer went 14-1 and played for a state championship, the Bulldogs head coach doesn't believe that his team should be favored against the lower classification Buckeyes. “I don't judge a football team by the number of A's behind their classification. Gilmer is a good high school football team no matter what class they're in.”

Traylor on the other hand, said that the Bulldogs should be the favorite. “I know our kids see us as the underdog. All you have to do is watch the video; we don't have the players that they do.”

Those players include a massive offensive line that averages 273 pounds, and a tight end, Dominique Jones (6-3, 230), who is committed to Texas. “He's a dominant blocker,” stated Traylor. The Bulldogs use that offensive line to run for over 200 yards per game.

Frank Reddic (6-0, 195) is the Bulldogs' leading rusher with 409 yards and five touchdowns in three games. “The tailback is a good downhill runner. He runs the ball hard,” said Traylor.

“They're going to score; they're too good offensively not to score. You're not going to stop their running game,” promised Traylor, who said that playing Kilgore means several fewer possessions than the Buckeyes are used to. “Every time you play Mike it's a short game. You've just got to get your points when you get a chance.”

Luckily for Gilmer, the Buckeyes faced a comparable team last week in Liberty-Eylau. “They're very similar in how they're going to pound on you,” agreed Traylor, who cautioned his team this week. “This will be their hardest test. This is the best opponent they've played.”

Vallery said that Gilmer will be the best team they have faced this season as well. “Offensively they might be as good as anybody we've seen this year,” stated Vallery. “They do a lot of things offensively, and the key to them is their quarterback. I'm really impressed with him. I think he's what you want at quarterback. He's as good as I've seen in a long time; being able to run and throw.”

Gilmer's quarterback, Stump Godfrey has put up impressive numbers in the season's first three games, accounting for 760 total yards and 11 touchdowns. That is why Vallery would like to see him spend a lot of time on the sidelines Friday night.
“Our strategy is to do what we always do,” Vallery said. “We like to run the football and mix the pass with it to control the clock.” That is the conventional wisdom for teams that face the Buckeyes, who average almost 54 points per game.

“I've been coaching 35 years and I never have scored 77 points in a game, so I guess we don't want to get in a scoring match with them,” quipped Vallery, referring to Gilmer's point total in the season's second game against Rains.

Gilmer's points per game average dropped considerably after the 28-14 win over Liberty-Eylau. Several missed scoring opportunities has Traylor concerned. “We have to make plays at opportune times to put teams away,” Traylor warned. “That's really what we've got to focus on this week.”

Defensively, the Buckeyes are coming off of one of their best performances in years against Liberty-Eylau; something that Vallery is keenly aware of. “Anytime you've got a team that's scoring 56 and 77 points; you've got a defense that's putting the ball into your hands,” said Vallery.

“I'm impressed defensively with their speed and how they get after you,” continued the Kilgore coach. “They play hard on defense. Look at how many turnovers they cause on defense. They play with a great intensity and speed on defense.”

The Bulldogs' defense sports even better stats than the Buckeyes, averaging 19.3 points allowed compared to Gilmer's 24.7 points per game. Kilgore also allows fewer total yards per game, 284 compared to the Buckeyes' 308. That is why the Buckeyes are so concerned with this current three game stretch that included Liberty-Eylau last week and Daingerfield next week.

“My kids know that this 3-week stretch is going to really let us know where we are,” stated Traylor.

Kilgore also sees the Buckeyes as a test. “We feel like when we play people like that, it makes us a better football team, win or lose,” said Vallery, who added that there will be one clear winner when the two power house programs meet Friday night. “I think it's a great game for the fans of East Texas. We're excited about playing Gilmer. It's got the makings of a good high school football game.”

Game Notes
• Gilmer has a 27-game regular season winning streak (last loss: 26-17 @ Daingerfield Sep. 30, 2005)
• Gilmer's 27-game regular season winning streak is the 2nd longest in school history
• Jeff Traylor's 88 career wins at Gilmer is 2nd place in school history Traylor needs 2 wins to pass Henry McClelland as Gilmer's career wins leader
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 2 touchdown passes to pass G.J. Kinne for 2nd place in school history
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 3 touchdown passes to pass Manuel Johnson and become Gilmer's career leader in touchdown passes
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 277 passing yards to pass G.J. Kinne for 3rd place in school history
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 220 total yards to pass Jamell Kennedy for 4th place in school history
• Gilmer is 57-1 in their last 58 regular season games

Bounty Hunter of the Week: Vance Green
Special Teams Player of the Week: Braylon Webb
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Horatio Morgan
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Chase Spencer

Hold on to your hats: it's Kilgore-Gilmer

Bulldogs, Buckeyes at a glance

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
TRISTAN HOLT returns a first half punt against Liberty-Eylau.

Small town, big night: Football is at the heart of the community in Gilmer and other East Texas towns

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gilmer 28, Liberty-Eylau 14

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes battle past Leopards

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

Gilmer Earns 28-14 Win

From The Gilmer Mirror:

Defense key in win for Buckeyes


The Gilmer Buckeyes' Black Flag Defense limited the Liberty-Eylau Leopards to only two scoring drives, while forcing three turnovers, as Gilmer outlasted the Leopards 28-14 to win their 27th consecutive home game at Buckeye Stadium.

The win was also Gilmer's 27th regular season victory in a row, and came despite the Buckeyes' offense struggling to their lowest point total in a regular season game since 2005.

“We had a very off game. We weren't focused from the start,” admitted Gilmer running back Jeremy Jackson, who rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries, but was held scoreless for the first game this season. “Our defense did a great job though, that's how we won the game.”

“Maybe this will give some people a chance to appreciate how good we do play on defense,” agreed Buckeyes' head coach Jeff Traylor, who saw his Buckeyes defeat Liberty-Eylau for the second straight season.
“They're a lot more athletic on defense this year,” complemented Leopards' head coach Pat Brady.

It was Gilmer's defense that came up with the game's first big play when linebacker Mikey Wilson intercepted the Leopards' Alex Watson on Liberty-Eylau's first possession, and gave the football to the Buckeyes' offense at the Gilmer 38-yard line.
“I don't know if I've ever coached a kid that has ever gotten interceptions in three consecutive games,” marveled Traylor about Wilson, who finished the game with 8 tackles and 5 assists to go along with his third interception of the season.
The Buckeyes' offense could not take advantage of the turnover, giving the ball back to the Leopards at their own 47-yard line just four plays later after a fumbled snap on fourth down.

Nine plays, and nine rushes later, Liberty-Eylau's Bryce Thomas scored from two yards out with 2:07 remaining in the opening quarter. Andrew Morsmen's extra point kick was good for a 7-0 Leopards lead.

The Buckeyes' offense came to life on their next possession, as quarterback Stump Godfrey completed three straight passes to Jackson, Prentiss Bell, and Braylon Webb for big gains before capping off the 60-yard scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Following a penalty against the Leopards' defense on the extra-point attempt, Godfrey ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead with only 56 seconds left in the first quarter.

Following Liberty-Eylau's kickoff return to their own 32-yard line, Gilmer's defense gave the offense another huge opportunity when three defenders swarmed Watson in the backfield, forcing a fumble recovered by Wilson at the Leopards' own 25-yard line.
But once again, the Buckeyes' offense couldn't take advantage of the great field position. An incomplete pass, a penalty and an errant pitch on an option play forced Gilmer backwards 20 yards before a 25-yard pass from Godfrey to Paul Chesnut gave the Buckeyes a fourth and five yards from the Leopards' 20-yard line. Godfrey's fourth down pass to Daniel McLaren was good for only four yards, so Liberty-Eylau took possession at their own 16-yard line.

“Our intensity has not been real good this past week on offense,” explained Traylor. “It does not surprise me that we did not execute real well because we did not execute real well in practice.”

Gilmer's defense came to the rescue again, limiting the Leopards to only one yard on their next series, giving the football back to the offense after a 26-yard punt.
This time the Buckeyes' offense responded, but not before losing six yards on the first two plays. On third and 16, Godfrey hit Hunter Harrison at the 35-yard line, allowing the senior receiver to weave his way around defenders for a 49-yard touchdown. Adan Olivares kicked the extra point for a 15-7 Gilmer lead with 7:20 to play in the first half.

“That catch by Hunter Harrison was probably one of the biggest plays of the ball game,” stated Traylor.

Buoyed by the Buckeyes' score, the defense stopped the Leopards again on their next series, forcing Liberty-Eylau backwards one yard before T. Q. Lowe got off a punt that rolled to the Buckeyes' 20-yard line.

Gilmer's offense gave the ball right back to the Leopards three plays later when Godfrey was intercepted at the Leopards' 48-yard line.

“Dropped passes, inopportune penalties, fumbled snaps; we just kept doing something to slow us down,” said a frustrated Traylor, who credited his defense for the victory. “We put them in some bad situations a lot of times, and they just kept bailing us out.”
Energized by the short field, Liberty-Eylau drove the football down to the Buckeyes' 12-yard line before Gilmer's defense stiffened, stopping the Leopards on fourth down and giving the ball back to the offense at their own 8-yard line.

'“We knew the defense was going to have to win the game,” said Buckeyes' linebacker Vance Green, who had 5 tackles and 9 assists. ''We've got to help the offense by stopping them and get the offense back on the field.”
The Buckeyes' offense advanced the ball all the way to the Liberty-Eylau 25-yard line before time ran out in the first half.

The Leopards started the second half with a questionable decision when they attempted an onside kick that Gilmer's McLaren recovered at the Liberty-Eylau 49-yard line. After a one yard loss on the first play, Jackson broke loose for a 49-yard run to the 1-yard line. Godfrey spun his way into the end zone on the next play for a 22-7 lead only 57 seconds into the second half.

“I thought Jeremy Jackson's run to start off the third quarter was big to get the momentum back,” Traylor said.

The momentum didn't stay with the Buckeyes for long, as the Leopards took their first possession of the second half and marched 72 yards on 9 running plays, scoring on a Tra Carson 4-yard run with 7:00 left in the third quarter to shorten Gilmer's lead to 22-14.

That would be the final time the Leopards would score, as Gilmer's defense held Liberty-Eylau to only 91 yards on their final three possessions, and forced another Leopards turnover that set up the game-clinching touchdown.

Braylon Webb would get the turnover and the touchdown, when he intercepted Watson's pass with 4:21 to play in the game and returned it to the Leopards' 22-yard line. After Gilmer's offense stalled at the 21-yard line, Webb came in to hold the ball for Olivares' 38-yard field goal attempt. The snap from center was high, forcing Webb to scramble. The junior looked trapped in the backfield, but alluded the tackler, then looked up to his left and noticed a wall of Buckeye blockers and followed them into the end zone for a touchdown with only 2:37 left in the game. Olivares' extra point kick was wide, leaving the score 28-14.

“Webb's interception at the end broke their back,” said Traylor. “It was a great win for us because we know how talented Liberty-Eylau is.”
“This was what I expected,” stated Brady after the close game. “I wish them luck, but I hope that we don't have to play each other again.”

Traylor shared Brady's sentiments about meeting the Leopards for the third straight year in the playoffs, but was glad for this regular season meeting. “This game does us a lot of good because you're playing such good players, you can evaluate really where you're strong and really where you're weak.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYES CREATE a Leopard sandwich as Luis Castro, Braylon Webb, D.J. Stanley, Marlon Granville and Paul Chesnut converge on the L-E running back.

Find more videos like this on PrepTicket

Buckeyes vs Liberty Eylau
Buckeyes vs Liberty Eylau

Friday, September 12, 2008

Buckeyes start ‘Murderer’s row’ schedule with Liberty-Eylau


The Gilmer Buckeyes might be 2-0 on the season, having outscored their opponents by an average of 67-25, but head coach Jeff Traylor knows that his young team has not been seriously challenged yet.

That will change over the next three games when the Buckeyes face Liberty-Eylau, Kilgore, and Daingerfield. “It's a murderer's row,” said Traylor. “The last time we played a stretch this tough would be 2003 when we played Daingerfield, Celina, Tatum, and Atlanta right in a row in the playoffs.”

“We really respect all three of these next opponents,” explained Traylor. “We're excited about it, we really are. We know it's going to be a hard stretch. We'll know when we get through with that Daingerfield game exactly where we are.”

The Leopards, Bulldogs, and Tigers have a combined 5-1 record on the season, and the Buckeyes must travel to both Kilgore and Daingerfield after hosting Liberty-Eylau Friday night at Buckeye Stadium.

The Leopards and Buckeyes are familiar foes, having met in the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons. In 2006, Liberty-Eylau upset number-one ranked Gilmer 39-36 on their way to a Class 3A-Division I state championship. In 2007, the Buckeyes returned the favor, knocking the Leopards out 41-26, before eventually losing in the championship game.

“We've kind of built up a little bit of a rivalry,” said Liberty-Eylau head coach Pat Brady, who is 36-17 in his fifth season as the Leopards' head coach. “Our kids have a lot of respect for Gilmer and their program.”

While Gilmer has dominated their first two opponents, Liberty-Eylau has struggled to a 1-1 record with a 35-28 win over North Lamar and a 27-13 loss to Mt. Pleasant. “We're young and inexperienced with a lot of talent, but right now we haven't shown ourselves to be a very good football team,” admitted Brady.

“They're going to play a lot better against us,” Traylor promised. “We all know L-E; no matter what their record is, they're talented and they're playing Gilmer so they're going to be up.”

Traylor also knows that the intimidation factor that the Buckeyes have against most opponents is not a factor for the Leopards. “They definitely aren't scared of us,” stated Traylor.

Brady confirmed Traylor's statement. “Are we intimidated by Gilmer? No. Do we respect Gilmer? Absolutely,” Brady replied. “When we are not making mistakes and playing good football, we can play with anybody in 3A in the state of Texas.”

Traylor said the Leopards' two state titles in the past nine years is proof enough. “They have the talent, that when they play their best they're hard to beat.”

Liberty-Eylau returns 11 starters from last year's team, and Traylor expects the same type of team that the Buckeyes have played the last two seasons. “They're always really good on defense,” stated Traylor. “They have two division one recruits at defensive tackles, and their secondary can just fly.”

Senior tackles Charles Rigsby (6-1, 281) and Keith Cross ( 6-0, 245) anchor the defense, while the secondary consists of three seniors, Daveon Willis (5-11, 161), Brandon Baker (5-9, 165), and T.Q Lowe (5-11, 161) and one junior, Kendrick Ray (5-7, 141).

“Offensively, their difference maker this year is a kid named Marquez Clark (5-10, 165) ,” said Traylor. “He's a great player.” In the Leopards’ win over North Lamar, the junior receiver returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown in the first half, and took the opening snap of the second half 67 yards for a touchdown on an end-around play.

Brady was quick to return the praise to Traylor's Buckeyes. “I think that it may be a better Gilmer football team overall than the one we played last year,” stated Brady. Last year's team pounded the football down the Leopards' throat; rushing for 338 yards on 51 carries, while only attempting 7 passes.

Brady expects the Buckeyes to have a more balanced offense out of necessity this season. “From what I've seen, they look big and good on the offensive line, but I don't care how good they are, you can't tell me their offensive line could be as good as it was last year.”

After watching the Gilmer offense score 13 touchdowns in three-play drives or less in their first two games, Traylor believes he knows what the Leopards will do Friday night. “I expect them to have a game plan where they're going to try to keep the ball from us; keep our offense on the sideline. That's how they win anyway; that's what their game plan is.

Brady's game plan is even simpler that that. “We've got to outscore them. That's the only way I've ever seen them beat,” deadpanned Brady, who did say, “Every time we have the ball, we need to get points. Whether it's six, three, seven; every time we touch the ball we need to come away with points. And obviously we need to make sure that somewhere down the line, Gilmer does not.”

“If we play good enough, then we're going to win the football game,” stated Brady.
“We know that the first game went down to the wire and last year's game went down to the wire, and this one will too,” predicted Traylor.

One thing that will be different this year than the previous two meetings between these teams, is that the loser's season will not be over. “The pressure of if you lose, you're done is gone. It's obviously not the pressure of a playoff game,” said Brady. “I think both teams can kind of relax and have a little bit more fun. Just relax and play football.”

Game Notes

• Gilmer is 3-11-0 all-time against Liberty-Eylau
• Gilmer has a 26-game home winning streak (last loss: 14-7 to Pine Tree in 2002)
• Gilmer has a 26-game regular season winning streak (last loss: 26-17 at Daingerfield Sep. 30, 2005)
• Jeff Traylor's 87 career wins at Gilmer is 2nd all-time
• Traylor needs 3 wins to pass Henry McClelland as Gilmer's career wins leader
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 3 touchdown passes to pass G.J. Kinne for 2nd place in school history
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 4 touchdown passes to pass Manuel Johnson and become Gilmer's career leader in touchdown passes
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 462 passing yards to pass G.J. Kinne for 3rd place in school history
• Gilmer QB Stump Godfrey needs 476 total yards to pass Jamell Kennedy for 4th place in school history
• Gilmer is 56-1 in their last 57 regular season games

Bounty Hunter of the Week: Tamil Harris
Special Teams Player of the Week: Paul Chesnut
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Cory Davis
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Marquelan Tate

GILMER’S J.T. BEECHAM turns a 3rd-and-19 pass in the flat into a 54-yard scoring dash down the west sidelines for the Buckeyes first touchdown against Rains last week.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Gilmer 77, Rains 21

From the Longview News-Journal:

Buckeyes roll to 77-21 homecoming win

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

It’s All Buckeyes On Homecoming

From The Gilmer Mirror:

Buckeyes rain on Wildcats' upset bid


The Gilmer Buckeyes scored an amazing 56 first half points on only 19 offensive plays, erasing an early 8-0 lead by the Rains Wildcats to win their homecoming game 77-21 before a crowd of almost 4,000 Friday night at Buckeye Stadium.

After stopping the Wildcats' first drive after only three plays, and starting their own first possession with great field position at their own 49-yard line, Gilmer proved a gracious host when quarterback Stump Godfrey took the first snap from center and fired a pass directly to the Wildcats' Dakota Barker in the left flat. Barker raced into the endzone 52 yards later for the touchdown. Rains added to their lead when Taylor Marshall found Colby Hoover in the endzone for a 2-point conversion pass, giving the Wildcats an 8-0 lead with only 1:07 off the clock.

“That's not the way you want to start the game off,” said Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who saw his team improve to 2-0 on the season and extend their home and regular season winning streak to 26 games, despite the early turnover.

The Buckeyes responded with three touchdowns in the next 4:48. The first came when Godfrey completed a perfectly executed screen pass to J.T. Beecham, who followed a line of blockers 55 yards for the score. The Buckeyes' 2-point attempt was stopped short after a low snap, and Gilmer trailed 8-6 with 8:53 to play in the first quarter.

“I think we lost our focus at the beginning; we weren't ready to play,” said Beecham. “But after they got that interception and scored, I guess that was a wake-up call for us.”
Not content with just closing the gap, Traylor called for an onside kick, which Braylon Webb recovered after a perfect kick from Adan Olivares.

“I just thought we had to get the momentum back really fast,” explained Traylor. “I thought their kids really thought they were in it for a while, and I was just trying to do something to snatch the momentum back, and it just worked.”

Three plays later, Godfrey took off on a quarterback keeper to his left before reversing field and twisting and turning his way between several Rains defenders to score from 10 yards out. Olivares' kick was good, and Gilmer had a 13-8 lead with 7:57 to go in the first quarter.

“Once again Stump came back from adversity and handled it very well,” said Traylor, who saw his junior quarterback run for one touchdown and throw for 273 yards and four more touchdowns, after his first interception of the season.

The Buckeyes' defense pushed Rains backwards 11 yards in three plays, forcing the Wildcats to punt to the Buckeyes' Paul Chesnut, who returned the punt 33 yards to the Rains 16-yard line. “It sets up our offense to make big plays,” said Chesnut of the special teams' stellar returns.

Two plays later, Jeremy Jackson ran through two Wildcats defenders for the first of his three touchdown runs. Beecham took a quick snap from center and ran in the Buckeyes' 2-point conversion for a 21-8 lead with 6:05 remaining in the first quarter.

Rains temporarily plugged the hole in the dam by going on a 79-yard, 16-play drive that ate up 7:27 of the clock, capped off by a 1-yard Travis Gibson touchdown run to make the score 21-15 with 10:38 to play in the second quarter.

Gilmer answered the Wildcats score with five touchdowns over the next 9:35 to put the game out of reach. “It gets demoralizing when they score so fast,” admitted Rains head coach Brannon Kidd.

Jackson started the avalanche of touchdowns with another 16-yard scoring run to complete a 3-play, 55-yard scoring drive that took only 35 seconds off the clock following a failed onside kick attempt by Rains.

Following another 3-and-out by Rains, Wildcats' quarterback Taylor Marshall attempted a quick kick from inside his own 20-yard line. The kick hit a Wildcat blocker and rolled backwards, where it was recovered by the Buckeyes at the Rains' 16-yard line.
On the next play, Godfrey hit Webb with a 16-yard strike for another touchdown and a 35-15 Buckeyes' lead with 9:00 to play in the half.

Three plays later, the Buckeyes' Mikey Wilson intercepted a Marshall pass at the Rains 43-yard line and returned it for a touchdown with 7:31 remaining in the half.
The Wildcats slowed things down on their next possession, covering 45 yards in 13 plays and 5:17 off the clock before failing to convert a fourth down attempt at the Buckeyes' 29-yard line with 2:14 to play in the half.

Gilmer traveled the 71 yards in three plays, scoring on a 25-yard run by Gus Osborne to push the Buckeyes' lead to 49-15 just 22 seconds after taking possession of the football.

After another 3-and-out stop by the Gilmer defense, the Buckeyes' Chesnut provided another big punt return, catching the Wildcats' punt at his own 45-yard line and returning it to the Rains 25-yard line. “Our punt-return team was just absolutely huge,” praised Traylor, who saw his offense get the ball back with 40 seconds left in the half.

That was more than enough time for the Buckeyes, who needed only eight seconds to score when Godfrey whipped a touchdown pass to Kedon Franklin on the very next play for the 56-15 halftime lead.

The halftime statistics were hard to believe. Gilmer had scored 56 points on only 19 offensive plays, controlling the football for only 4:25, compared to Rains' 46 offensive plays taking 19:35 of clock time.

The second half statistics looked much the same, minus the points explosion for the Buckeyes. Rains controlled the clock for another 19:19 on 30 plays while Gilmer ran only 16 offensive plays in 4:41 of possession time.

That was enough time for Jackson's third touchdown run of the game, this time a 70-yarder on the Buckeyes' second possession of the half to make the score 63-15 with 6:27 to play in the third quarter.

After Gilmer's Xavier Easley picked off a Marshall pass at the Wildcats' 35-yard line, Godfrey threw his fourth touchdown pass of the night, hitting Ben Griffith on the next play for a 70-15 lead with 3:47 left in the third quarter.

The Wildcats fought back with another long scoring drive on their next possession, keeping the football for 11:15 during a running clock, scoring on Gibson's 8-yard run with 4:32 to go in the game to cut the score to 70-21.

The Buckeyes' Josh Thompson answered the Rains touchdown with 2:39 to play, when he scored on a 28-yard run to make the final score 77-21. The 77 points were the fifth most points in team history, tying the Buckeyes' 1928 and 1929 teams, who put up 77 points against Jacksonville and Jefferson respectively.

“They're a talented, explosive offense,” marveled Kidd, who added, “I truly believe that in another year we are going to be right up there with them.”

“We're not near as good as that score shows,” cautioned Traylor, while commending some of his players. “Xavier Easley, a sophomore, came up big with an interception, two tackles and four assists. Mikey Wilson had another good game; another interception, this one for a touchdown, six tackles and two assists. Braylon Webb had eight tackles, three assists and some big hits. Marlon Granville had six tackles and six assists. Josh Thompson had five tackles, three assists and three quarterback pressures.”

Traylor also praised the effort of his backs and receivers, as well as his offensive line. “[Jared] Harborth and [Jacob] Jenkins played especially well.”

Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
GILMER'S JEREMY JACKSON scores from 16 yards out, one of his three touchdown runs against Rains.

Buckeyes vs. Rains
Gilmer Homecoming Ceremony
Buckeyes vs Rains Wildcats


Video Highlights from the Rains County Leader

Friday, September 05, 2008

Buckeyes host Rains Wildcats for Homecoming 2008


Most coaches will tell you that a football team improves the most in the week between its first and second game. If that's true, the Rains Wildcats may be in trouble when they visit Gilmer Friday night for the Buckeyes' homecoming. In Gilmer's first game, the Buckeyes soundly defeated the Jasper Bulldogs 56-28.

Despite the impressive win, Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor said the Buckeyes' have a lot of room for improvement. “I thought our conditioning wasn't as good as I wanted it to be,” Traylor stated. “Our receivers dropped way too many passes in the game. And we had too many penalties, which I attribute to the lack of conditioning as well. So those are the three aspects we are really concerned about right now.”

Traylor is also concerned about the Wildcats, who open their regular season under new head coach Brannon Kidd. “It's really hard to tell [what they do] because they have just scrimmaged, they haven't played a game,” said Traylor.

Kidd, who went 8-12 in two seasons at Ft. Worth Castleberry, concedes a slight advantage. “I think it may a little bit,” said Kidd. “But of course every scrimmage we've had, Gilmer's had coaches in the stands so they've got a good idea of what we're going to do. Of course we'll throw in some twists and wrinkles here and there.”

Kidd, who served as offensive coordinator at Keller Fossil Ridge under current Southlake Carroll head coach Hal Wasson, inherited a Wildcats team that returns 16 starters from a team that has made three consecutive playoff appearances.

“We've got a good bunch of senior leaders that have been there through the playoff runs they've had the last three years,” Kidd stated. “They seem confident. They don't seem worried or concerned with Gilmer. They are going to show up ready to play.”

Traylor is certain that the Wildcats will be motivated, especially since Gilmer scheduled them as homecoming opponent. “Don't think they won't be fired up about that. Nobody likes to be a homecoming mum.”

Another motivation for the Wildcats is their underdog status. One website lists Gilmer as a 27-point favorite. “I played at SMU right after the death penalty, so I'm used to being the underdog,” conceded Kidd. “It's an exciting experience I'm trying to sell to our kids and they seem to be excited about it.”

The Wildcats also seem excited about the challenge of learning the new offense that Kidd brought with him. “Going from a split veer to a spread offense it's had some challenges for them, but they have adapted well,” praised Kidd.

That adaptation was helped in large part by two returning senior starters, quarterback Taylor Marshall (6-3, 200, 4.7) and wide receiver Kolby Hoover (6-3, 195, 4.6). Marshall passed for 668 yards and 10 touchdowns in the Wildcats' run-oriented scheme last season, while Hoover is one of the top returning receivers in Class 3A after catching 48 passes for 964 yards.

“We have a good passer, and he likes to throw the ball,” Kidd confirmed. “He's very good at throwing the ball."

Kidd admitted that his offense is predicated upon the talent he has. “I'm an old offensive lineman and if I can run it, I'm going to run it, but if I can put my team in a better situation by passing, I'm going to take it,” said Kidd. That philosophy was evident last season at Castleberry when Kidd took running back Chris Thompson and moved him to quarterback. Thompson responded with 2,353 rushing yards on 271 carries.

Kidd said his Rains team will be more even than Castleberry's was. “We're pretty balanced; I'd say we're probably 50-50 on what we do. We're going to try and do whatever the defense dictates.”

In addition to a balanced offensive attack, the Wildcats have plenty of big game experience. Last season Rains faced highly ranked Royse City in district play, eventual 2A-Div. I state champion Farmersville in non-district play, and eventual 3A-Div. II state champion Celina in the playoffs. “That's an impressive three right there. Royse City, Celina and Farmersville were pretty good teams,” stated Traylor. “And I understand that is why they wanted to play us; to keep playing great teams.”

“If you only play the teams you're supposed to beat, then you never get any better,” agreed Kidd, who is counting on his kid's experiences from last season to help them against Gilmer. “I think it helps them a lot. They've been in those big games before.”

Gilmer has been in plenty of big games, but homecoming is something that concerns Traylor every year. “You're always worried about distractions, but it's also nice to have a huge crowd, so it works both ways,” admitted Traylor, who wants his Buckeyes to be more focused on their preserving their current 25-game home and regular-season winning streak.

Kidd knows the task of stopping Gilmer's winning streaks will be a challenge. “We've got to play mistake-free football to beat Gilmer,” Kidd said. “We can't turn over the ball. We can't have penalties. The spread is run off momentum, and when you get those going in the right direction and then you kill that momentum, it's hard to get it back going.”

“You've got to try and focus on what weaknesses they do have, and try to exploit those weaknesses as best you can,” said Kidd, who added, “We don't see a lot of weaknesses in Gilmer right now. They are well coached and they are very disciplined.”

While the odds may be against the Wildcats, Kidd stated that nothing is decided until after kickoff. “On any given Friday, any team can win the game.”

Game Notes

• Gilmer is 10-0 all-time against Emory-Rains, outscoring Emory 433-6 in 8 games from 1926 through 1941. After Emory consolidated to become Rains county after the 1958 season, the Buckeyes are 2-0 against the Wildcats with a 43-0 win in 2002 and a 56-14 win in 2003 when the two teams were in District 11-3A together. Overall Gilmer has outscored Emory-Rains 532-20 in 10 games.

• Jeff Traylor's 86 career wins at Gilmer is tied with Truett Rattan for 2nd all time.

• Traylor needs 4 wins to pass Henry McClelland as Gilmer's career wins leader.

• Gilmer's last home loss was to Pine Tree, 14-7 in 2002.

• Gilmer's last regular season loss was at Daingerfield, 26-17, in 2005

Scout Team
Players of the Week
Offense: Austin Hollingsworth
Defense: Zack Davidson

Mirror Photo / M.L. Kirby
BUCKEYE DEFENDER Gus Osborne catches up with Jasper QB Dominique Bailey in third quarter action last Thursday night in Tyler, with teammate Luis Castro close behind. Gilmer beat Jasper, 56-28, in the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic opening game. This Friday night the Buckeyes celebrate Homecoming against the Rains Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Buckeye Stadium.