I certainly mean no offense in the statement, nor do I mean to imply ingratitude on the part of any of the Friday Night Faithful here in Gilmer whom we often self-reference as “The Army of Buckeyes”. By comparative standards, we in Gilmer are rightfully renowned for the level of support we throw behind our team…especially come playoff time. Why hosting The Buckeyes in an area playoff stadium generally means a “Boon” for the locals. We fill the restaurants, raid the local retailers and politely demand our hosts open the stadium for us at least 3 hours earlier than usual to accommodate “Our Army”. While opposing fans arrive at the stadium an hour before kick-off, spread their wares over a blank canvas of bleachers and peer across the field…we’ll have long since filled our side to capacity. Some have even mistaken our passion for a purposeful effort at intimidation (well, if the boot fits…). Admittedly, once our boys take the field things usually have a way of getting intimidating for opponents, but hey…we’re just doing what we do, it’s a “Buckeye Thing”. Let’s face it, we Gilmerites may boast an “In Town” population of little more than 4,000 people, but we’ve been known to flat out ruin a Friday night for many a citizen of opposing towns. “And why wouldn’t you?” I was asked this week by a friend from West Texas (and said such place, Cuero). Although he’d consider their football tradition equally as impressive as ours, he’s what you would call “Left Brained” individual. He’s always analyzing, measuring and comparing things. He comes by it honest and has the Aggie ring to prove it. But in our case, well it seems he’d done a little homework on our Buckeyes and I must admit that what he pointed out was an eye-opener for me. So much so that it prompted me to share it with you.
Did you know that the national average for high school football players receiving college scholarships is a little north of 1 in 100? But not if you play in Gilmer. If you played for the Buckeyes since 2000, your chances of playing college ball are more like 1 in 6. He also pointed out a few more interesting facts about our boys, which frankly had my chest sticking out more than a little bit. Did you know that in the last two years, five Gilmer Buckeyes have played in the BCS National Championship Game? Did you know that a Gilmer Buckeye has been the Big XII, Conference USA and Mountain West “Player of the Week” this season alone? Did you see the Sports Illustrated College Football Preview…the one with the Gilmer Buckeye on the cover? And were you watching NBC last Saturday as a Gilmer Buckeye went to South Bend, Indiana and opened a can of East Texas nastiness on the famed Fighting Irish of Notre Dame? Why, we’ve had a Gilmer Buckeye be named an All-American, a Gilmer Buckeye captain the Texas side of the Red River Rivalry (in which no less than 5 Buckeyes have played in since 2008, accounting for 16 catches, 12 tackles, 3 TDs and 9 “Pancake Blocks”), and have suited up 3 Gilmer Buckeyes in NFL Uniforms since 2004, a number which will likely grow to 8 by 2012. My goodness folks, we have a Gilmer Buckeye who has even reached the pinnacle of Texas Boyhood Fantasy, as he reports to work every day to find a helmet hanging in his locker with a star on it! So compared against the national ratio for producing PRO players, the score stands Gilmer 1 in 70, Rest of World 1 in 2,000…utterly lopsided, kind of like we’re used to seeing scoreboards when they say “Gilmer” on them. I must admit I was humbled by these facts myself, much less the reverence with which he quoted them to me.
So if I may, let me be so bold as to share my conclusion and hereby challenge our citizenry this coming fine fall weekend. Friday night, the Buckeyes play their first playoff game of 2010. Now there was a time when a Buckeye Playoff game was somewhat of a “Special Occasion”. But thanks to the hard work and dedication of our players, coaches and administrators over the past decade or so, they’ve become quite commonplace. But friends, believe me when I tell you that there’s nothing “common-place” about the feeling our young people get when their entire community shows up to support them 100%. At the risk of agreeing with someone from West Texas on, well ANYTHING, I think the West Texas Turkey Fan has it right…“We ARE SPOILED ROTTEN!” And given the downright staggering heights to which the bar has been raised over the past decade for our football team, I would go so far as to say his words are a flat out challenge to each of our civic honor! So I’m hereby calling out the Army!
Game time is Friday night at 7:30 in Hallsville. It’s the playoffs and everybody is 0-0. What’s more, our kids are going to be on stage and so are we. We have a legacy to live up to; a tradition has been established, and it’s up to us to let all those who will be looking at their regional papers to find out how Gilmer fared on Friday night to know one thing…we’re the defending State Champions and if you want a ring, you’re gonna have to stare down an army to get it! So if you’re a Buckeye, ever have been a Buckeye, or ever have plans to be a Buckeye, the list of excuses for not showing up in your best orange and black attire in Hallsville, loud and proud is brief to say the least. If you’re simply a Buckeye “Admirer”, you are likewise strongly encouraged to attend. If you’re simply a casually interested football fan, you’re invited (get there early if you expect a seat, cause you’re in for a show). If you’re reading this fine publication, are not from Gilmer and are simply looking for something to do on Friday, I would invite you to come on over to Hallsville and see why we love our Buckeyes as much as we do (everybody else is going to be there, so you might as well show up too). I will guarantee you that there is not a single thing you’ll enjoy more than getting together with seven or eight thousand of your friends and neighbors and allow our Gilmer Buckeyes to continue to spoil us rotten!
BUCKEYE TICKET LINE: 903-841-7777