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Buckeyes honored as one of top teams in U.S.
Parade draws hundreds to downtown Gilmer



By MARY L. KIRBY

A crowd of several hundred gathered along Titus Street and the square in Gilmer to honor the Class 3A Division I champion Gilmer Buckeyes Thursday evening. The parade was led by a convertible driven by Gilmer Supt. Rick Albritton and carrying Diedra and Cade Camp with the state championship trophy.
Varsity, junior varsity and eighth grade cheerleaders and the Buckeye Band preceded the arrival of a flatbed trailer carrying the members of the team.
At the Yamboree Bandstand by the fountain on the courthouse square, the players and coaches were greeted by Jeff Rash, the public adddress announcer for the Gilmer home games, school board representatives, Pigskin Bob and Harlan the Sports Guy of KYKX FM radio, SFC. Matt Rifley of the Texas National Guard and Christopher Stonebraker of MaxPreps.com.
For five years, the National Guard and MaxPreps.com have combined to honor a select 50 teams across the country as being the best from their region among the 16,000 schools whose statistics MaxPreps keep online. The Gilmer Buckeyes are the first Class 3A team to be so honored.
Rifley pointed out that puts the Buckeyes in the top 0.31 percent of all the schools.
Traylor, in addition to accepting the trophy, introduced all the players attending to the home crowd. Three seniors, Ben Griffith, Beau Blair and Stump Godfrey, spoke briefly as did two coaches, Randall Canady and Alan Metzel.
It was announced yesterday that Griffith and Blair made the state Academic Athletic Second Team.
Gloria King also addressed the crowd and referenced her dual roll as a retired teacher and a school board member.
The players will be honored one more time on March 27 when they receive their Championship rings.

Mirror Photos / Mary Laschinger Kirby
BUCKEYE PLAYERS arrive at the ceremonies Thursday night honoring their success in the Class 3A Division I state championship run. In a turnaround from last week’s frigid weather, many of the young athletes considered the misty conditions shirt-sleeve weather.

PRESENTING THE National Guard-MaxPreps.com Trophy to Athletic Director Jeff Traylor, right, are Sfc. Matt Rifley of the Texas National Guard and Christoper Stonebraker of MaxPreps.com. MaxPreps.com has statistics online for 16,000 high schools in the country, and the Gilmer Buckeyes are the first Class 3A school to win the award.

“NUMBER ONE” responds the crowd as the Buckeye Cheerleaders assist Christopher Stonebraker of MaxPreps in the popular cheer, “We Say,” a call and response which the fans know well. The cheer came at the high point of the Parade of Champions Thursday, just before Stonebraker and Sgt. First Class Matt Rifley presented the National Guard-MaxPreps.com Team of the Year trophy to Athletic Director Jeff Traylor.

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With only 16 teams left in the Class 3A Division I playoffs, the Gilmer Buckeyes are just one of many teams with impressive résumés.

“They’re all good this time of the year,” stated Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor, who has led his alma mater to a 108-17 record and one state championship in his 10 years at the helm of the Buckeyes.

Take La Vega, the Buckeyes’ opponent Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Mesquite. The Pirates have gone at least three rounds deep in the playoffs every year since 2006, sporting an impressive 10-3 playoff record in that span.

“We do have some experience and tradition,” admitted La Vega head coach Willie Williams, who has a 135-84-2 record in his 20th season as Pirates’ head coach.

Like Traylor, Williams is coaching in his hometown. “This is the only place I’ve known. I graduated from here and I’ve coached here for 27 years. I’ve never coache…

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