FOOTBALL SEASON is all about peaking at the right time — more specifically, when it comes to Texas high school football, in time for the playoffs.
From that perspective, the Gilmer Buckeyes (5-0, 8-1) have shown some pretty good timing.
They have now been ahead on the scoreboard for 13 consecutive quarters of action.
Their one loss of the season came in the second game of 2012 to Prestonwood Christian Academy on Sept. 7 in Plano. Since then, Gilmer has won seven straight. The PCA Lions, on the other hand, lost their last three games and will go into the playoffs as the fourth seed in TAPPS Division I District 1. They ended their regular season Friday night at 7-3.
It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
For the Buckeyes' "strength of schedule" purposes, though, let's hope the Lions turn it around and win another TAPPS state title.
The Buckeyes are hoping to finish the regular season strong with a win over the Kilgore Bulldogs (5-0, 8-0) here Friday night, a win which would earn them their 11th district title in the last 12 seasons.
Regardless of the outcome, though, Gilmer is headed to the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season as the No. 1 seed in Class 3A Division II from District 16-3A.
Gilmer’s bi-district opponent will be the loser of the Van-Canton game in Van Friday night. The winner of that game will be the champion of District 15-3A and will play Henderson from 16-3A.
Kilgore will be the 16-3A Division I representative and will face either Brownsboro or Athens in the first round of the playoffs.
Kilgore’s strength is its defense, anchored by senior A.J. Davis, who compiled back-to-back seasons of more than 120 tackles and was voted the preseason defensive Player of the Year. Davis was the District 14-4A defensive MVP a year ago after recording 179 tackles, 13 tackles for losses, five sacks, two interceptions, five passes broken up, three blocked kicks, one blocked punt and three fumble recoveries. He had 124 tackles as a sophomore, adding 15 stops for losses and three sacks.
The “Ragin’ Red” defensive unit has given up only 47 points in eight games, an average of fewer than six points per game.
“Defensively, we just play well together and fit well together. That’s been the key for us,” said Kilgore head coach Mike Wood.
“We’ve just been solid across the board. The kids have played inside themselves, and we’ve been fortunate to not give up the big plays, get ourselves off the field and win the turnover battle.”
Given that Gilmer has looked more like the juggernaut teams of old on offense the last couple of weeks, averaging 58 points per game, the matchup with the Kilgore defense can be likened to the classic “irresistible force meets immovable object” scenario. Something’s gotta give.
Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor is thankful to be in the playoffs after the 57-39 win on the road over Bullard (“It’s just a shame those guys aren’t in the playoffs,” he said of Bullard, praising Coach Shannon Wilson and his “really good football team”) last Friday night, but he and the Buckeyes are not finished yet. There’s still that District of Doom title they want to capture for the second straight year.
“We’re going after it. That’s just kinda the way I’m wired, whether it’s checkers or ping-pong. If somebody’s keeping score and there’s a winner to be declared, we’re going to try to win.”
And they almost always do. No brag, just fact. Gilmer has won 57 out of its last 58 district games and has not lost a district game at Buckeye Stadium since 2000, Traylor’s first season as head coach.
It is not impossible that both state champions could come from District 16-3A. If that is the case, people may well look back on this game as having determined which of the two champs was better.
Coach Traylor predicted Gilmer’s Black Flag defense is “going to show up” Friday night.
“Our defense did not play very well. It’s probably the first time all year our defense did not play well, and I think our defense is really going to get after it this Friday night. I really expect those guys to put forth a much better effort.”
Reflecting a bit more on the win at Bullard, Coach Traylor cited Pablin Olivares’ “great” onside kick.
“I thought the onside kick was the big play of the ball game. He kicked a perfect kick.
“His kickoffs were great and the extra points were all big.”
The onside kick was recovered by Slade Morris, who also was cited by his coach for his overall special teams play.
On defense, “Dylan Bowman had seven tackles, one assist and one interception; Xavier Fluellen, seven tackles, one assist, three pressures; Ardarius Johnson, seven tackles, one assist, two tackles for loss.
“Our offensive line was fantastic protecting our quarterback and run-blocking.
“All of our backs ran well. Josh (Walker), Kris (Boyd), and Jamel (Jackson) all ran well. And Tanner (Barr) ran well, too.
“Whenever all four of your backs are running well, that means your line is blocking well.”
In assessing the Bulldogs, Coach Traylor said the aforementioned linebacker Davis (44) is “fantastic.”
Defensive tackles Josh Daniels (98) and LaDarrin Anthony (96) are also “fantastic” as are defensive ends Cornelius Bell (5) and D.Q. Scott (82).
“They’re just really good up front. Just really big and physical.”
On offense, Kilgore is a run-oriented, ball-control team. The Bulldogs don’t always score a lot of points, but then they don’t need to.
Clay Wiley (6-2, 300) at strong guard is “a really good football player” in the offensive line.
Receiver Aaron Foy (3) “has gotta be the fastest kid we’ve seen this year.”
“They rotate their running backs, Davieonta Brown (10) and Austin Jordan (1). They’re good running backs.
“Cooper Coldiron (4) is a great athlete at quarterback. Very athletic. Throws the ball down the field really well.”
Kilgore is an “inside zone, power” running attack, utilizing the “toss” and “play-action pass.”
“It oughta be a great one Friday night,” Coach Traylor concluded.
Gilmer Buckeyes Season to Date:
Atlanta, won 31-17
Plano Prestonwood, lost 42-12
Jacksonville, won 34-33
Daingerfield, won 43-14
Gladewater, won 21-13
Chapel Hill, won 50-28
Henderson, won 28-26
Spring Hill, won 59-10
Bullard, won 57-39
Kilgore Bulldogs Season to Date:
Marshall, won 42-0
Sweeny, won 24-7
Mount Pleasant, won 38-6
Spring Hill, won 41-0
Bullard, won 27-14
Gladewater, won 35-8
Chapel Hill, won 31-2
Henderson, won 14-10
Tanner Barr has completed 136 of 23 passes for 1694 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Kris Boyd has rushed for 813 yards on 81 carries and 13 touchdowns for an average of 10.04 yards per carry.
Chase Tate has 35 receptions for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
BUCKEYE TICKET LINE:
LUNCH WITH THE COACH:
Noon Today, 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.
GILMER BUCKEYES HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL APP:
MAXPREPS HOME PAGE:
of the Week:
Player of the Week:
Players of the Week:
Will Dodd, Offense
Jeff Wood, Defense
Ladarius Fluellen, Special Teams