There is even more of an allure to the 2013 season, as the personnel of WRL General Contractors, Ltd., of Flint have put the finishing touches on a complete renovation of the home side of Buckeye Stadium, which originally opened in 1962.
Tomorrow night at 7:30, the Buckeyes will welcome the Atlanta Rabbits to town to kick off the regular season. It’s the first time the Rabbs have been here for a game since 2007.
The season opener is the first of five home games. Plano Prestonwood Christian Academy comes to Buckeye Stadium on Sept. 6, followed by Daingerfield (Homecoming) on Sept. 20, Gladewater on Sept. 27 and Bullard on Nov. 1.
No one can dispute that this year’s Buckeyes have more top-notch players at the skill positions than they have had since they last won state in 2009.
Those of us who went to the two scrimmages here with Whitehouse and Greenville can attest that the BIG PLAY offense is back. This team can score from anywhere on the field in one play.
The defense is also stout and quick, as the Black Flag allowed only one touchdown during those two scrimmages.
Most are aware that Gilmer is ranked as one of the top two or three teams in Texas in 3A in most polls. MaxPreps also ranks it as the No. 10 team in the state, regardless of classification.
Such is life when you return most of your key players from a 2012 team which went 14-2 and made it to the 3A Division II State Championship Game in Arlington last Dec. 21. This year’s Buckeyes will have targets on their backs.
But that’s really true every year. It’s part of the price of being a dynasty. However, the “G” on the helmet more than compensates for the target on the back. Plus, with the new “targeting” rule in terms of tackling, it’s literally just going to cost opponents penalty yardage to do that now.
Speaking of that, MaxPreps also recently ranked the Buckeyes as the seventh leading dynasty in Texas over the last decade among the 1,469 high school football programs in the state. Lone Star Gridiron goes MaxPreps one better and ranks Gilmer sixth.
In the last 10 seasons, Gilmer has a record of 126-14.
Head Coach Jeff Traylor is beginning his 14th season in charge of the program. His teams have won 148 and lost 24. He is the winningest coach in the history of Gilmer High School football, which is now entering its 100th year.
Coach Traylor said he was “extremely proud” of the renovated stadium.
He added, “I just can’t tell you how excited our kids are when they step out on the field.”
(Please see the extensive interview Elwyn Henderson conducted with Coach Traylor on Page 2B of this issue for more of his thoughts on the upcoming season.)
Buckeye Stadium still pales in cost and comparison to the $60 million stadium Allen ISD built a few years ago and even to the $16 million one about to open in Longview for Pine Tree ISD. Any remaining naysayers should bear in mind how relatively inexpensive this project was (about $2 million) compared to other similar projects around the state. And if stadium dollars were allocated based on the record of the team playing there rather than the wealth of the team’s school district, it’d be Buckeye Stadium receiving tens of millions of dollars’ worth of attention.
So, what if you just really don’t like the concept of high school football getting a lot of attention and support? Well, history shows you just might be living in the wrong state. Friday Night Lights (on both big and small screens) was not a documentary, but it was closer to the truth than many supposedly fictional movies and TV shows. If an activity has been going on for close to 100 years, it is safe to say a trend has been established.
Turning to tomorrow night’s game, the Rabbits have made a lot of changes on offense since their last game, a 57-13 loss to the Buckeyes in a 3A Division II Area game last November at Lobo Stadium in Longview.
During the off-season, Rabbs Head Coach Matt McClure apparently has practically rewritten the Atlanta playbook.
As KTAL Channel 6’s Lance Snow reported earlier this month, McClure had a surprise for returning junior quarterback Chase Musgrove during 2013’s preseason summer workouts.
“We changed everything this year,” Musgrove said. “Last year we had a completely different offense. This year we’re fast-paced and hope to score a lot of points.”
The new change to a no-huddle offense means plenty of running and gunning, and to McClure, that means scoring.
“If you run 60 to 70 snaps, the odds of scoring more points are greater,” McClure said. “I think in today’s game, if you look at all the scores, anywhere from the college ranks, all the scores are really high nowadays. And I think if you don’t score 30-plus on a nightly basis it’s going to be tough to win.”
Musgrove likes the change to a quarterback-friendly scheme. The returning starter from 2012 hopes to improve on his nine TD passes and will have big targets Kenneth Houff and Eddrick King to throw to.
“I like running this offense a lot better. It’s more in my hands. I get to throw a lot more this year,” Musgrove said.
“We’re going to be more spread out a little bit. We’re not going to be so much in the ‘I’ (formation),” confirmed Coach McClure in a recent interview with FOX Sports Radio 1400 in Texarkana.
Regarding his quarterback, McClure said he’s “fairly advanced” as a signal-caller after having played in 12 games last season.
“He’s able to get some calls changed at the line of scrimmage, based on coverage,” said McClure. “I’m pretty proud of where he’s at right now.”
He quipped that the Rabbs’ switch to a no-huddle offense “may mean the fastest ‘three-and-out’ ever” at first.
There are no wrist bands for players to look at in Atlanta’s up-tempo offensive scheme.
“The kids have it all memorized,” he said. “I think it’s something that’s really fun and the kids are enjoying it.”
Coach McClure added that the theme of the Atlanta team this season is “Brick by Brick.”
“We’re gonna take it one practice at a time, one day at a time. We’re gonna worry about us. We talk as coaches about what do we want this time to look like in a month from now.
“I think if we bank everything on Gilmer, that’s not very smart. I watched them play the other night. They’ve got 15, 16 starters back from the state finals team. They’re really, really good.
“We’re gonna control what we can control — our execution, our alignment, our technique. Too many times you worry about the other team and you don’t get any better.”
Coach McClure, in his third season as athletic director/head coach of his alma mater, assessed the participation level of his program.
“I think our numbers are really good right now. We’ve got between 70 and 75 in the top three grades and we’ve got about 42 freshmen, so I’m real proud of that.”
The Rabbs have had a depth problem in recent years, but currently have only two players scheduled to go both ways full-time during the 2013 season.
Atlanta has eight starters back from 2012, four each on offense and defense.
Most observers believe the Rabbs will make the 3A Division II playoffs again from District 13-3A.
Houff, who is being looked at as a recruit by Baylor and Oklahoma State, is the leader on defense at end. The 6’2”, 195-lb. senior had 51 tackles and eight sacks last season.
In years past, sometimes these Thursday night or Saturday night games get moved up to 7 p.m. for some reason in spite of all pregame publicity having announced the kickoff to be at 7:30. So you will want to be in your seats at Buckeye Stadium way before the announced kickoff time.
One would hope the chance of this happening on Aug. 29 is very low, since the forecast is for a high of around 100 that day and the extra 30-minute “cooling off” period would be advisable for health reasons — of both players and fans.
LUNCH WITH THE COACH:
Noon Wednesdays, Buckeyes Booster Club meets at Gilmer Country Club.
Etex, Channel 2, will replay Gilmer games at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Wednesdays.
(This channel also carries the audio of the games live.)
New Diana games will be replayed 2 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Thursdays
Harmony games will be replayed 6 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Tuesdays.
MAXPREPS HOME PAGE:
Gilmer v. Atlanta Game Info & Notes
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