In the absence of their 7on7 head coach Rebel Jackson, who was unable to attend the Gilmer State Qualifying Tournament last Saturday, Jordan Traylor, son of Buckeye head coach Jeff Traylor, in for a short summer break from college in Mississippi, and Darrion Pollard, in for a summer break from Rice, did a superb job of coaching the Buckeye squad to qualifying for the State Tournament on July 11 and 12. The State Tournament will be played at Southwest Williamson County Regional Park, which is located about 25 miles north of downtown Austin.
Jordan said after the end of the SQT last game, “Our defense played really well. I was very impressed with Tanner (Barr) and how well he threw the ball, and our receivers did an excellent job of catching the ball and holding on to it today. It was fun to be on the sidelines as a Buckeye again!”
The Bucks peaked at just the right time, as Saturday was their last opportunity to qualify for State. They were playing in Pool 1 and breezed to a 21-0 halftime lead over Alto and cruised to a 41-6 win in their first game at 9 am.
They fell behind 0-6 early in their second game at 10 a.m. against Mt. Vernon, but led 28-12 at halftime and ended with a blowout 54-19 victory as the defense slammed the door shut in the second half of the contest.
In the 11 a.m. game, the Buckeyes faced district foe Chapel Hill. In the two previous meetings of the two teams at the Bullard SQT on June 1, Gilmer defeated the Bulldogs by seven in pool play and lost by six in the playoffs. Chapel Hill qualified in Bullard and knocked Gilmer out, so the Bucks had payback on their minds in the 7on7 rubber match.
Gilmer fell behind 0-12 and trailed 13-18 at halftime and 13-25 midway through the second half, but defensive standout Josh Walker saved the day with an interception that came with Gilmer down 20-25. Barr led the offense to a score and a 26-25 lead and the defense shut the talented CH receivers down to garner a 26-25 victory and give the hometown Bux first place in their pool. Chapel Hill did not participate in the playoffs since they were already qualified for State, and that allowed Alto to squeak into the playoff round.
In Pool 2, White Oak ran the table and won, while Mabank finished in second with wins over Bullard and Shelbyville.
After a one hour lunch break, Gilmer faced Mabank in the semifinals at 1 p.m., while White Oak played Alto in the other semifinal. White Oak defeated Alto 34-20 in that game, while Gilmer jumped out to a 34-0 halftime lead and went on to win 48-6, completing a perfect 4-0 day.
Since both White Oak and Gilmer won their semifinal matches and the top two teams from the 8-team field qualified, the decision was made not to play the championship game due to the intense heat of the afternoon.
Since the State Tournament is just over three weeks away, fundraising will begin quickly to defray the costs for the team to make the trip. If you would like to donate, contact Coach Rebel Jackson at 903-424-2118.
If your schedule permits, be sure to make plans to make the trip to scenic Williamson County for the State Tournament.