Additionally, fans who want a piece of history can go online to www.customgiftballs.com and purchase a football highlighting the historical win. A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to the Gilmer Buckeye Booster Club.
It was an excited Coach Traylor who spoke with us after the big win. We asked his thoughts on the superb performance by first year starting quarterback Tanner Barr. “Well, it doesn’t surprise me on Tanner, Jaidon (Parrish) or McLane (Carter) with the work all three of those kids have put in. It doesn’t surprise me. None of my kids surprise me. They only surprise me when I don’t do a good job preparing them and they fall down sometimes. They’re all great quarterbacks and Coach (Alan) Metzel does a great job with them. They love their coaches, they love their community and they’re proud to wear that Gilmer ‘G’ on their helmet.”
We also asked the Buckeye mentor his thoughts about the 600th win in school history. “We have tried to do a good job of sharing that with everybody. We’re really glad we’ve added to the tradition, but that was started way before me with some great coaches like Truett Rattan and Henry McClelland. I was just fortunate to get to follow those guys and I’m just so thankful that our community loves football so much and they love our kids, they love what we do, and that tradition just helps.”
As you would expect, the coach downplayed his part which includes 135, or 22.5 percent of the 600 wins in just 12 seasons plus one game.
“Well, I’ve got a community that really believes in me, a school board, a high school principal and a superintendent who believes in me. It’s just one; it’s just one this year and that’s what we’ve got to focus on, but we will enjoy this tonight. It’s really special. We’re going to enjoy tonight and we’ll get on Prestonwood tomorrow.”
The inexperience of the Buckeyes showed up early in the game, as after winning the coin toss and receiving the opening kickoff, Chase Tate returned the kick from his 8 out the 26. It was a quick three-and-out. Barr nailed a 57-yard punt to give the Rabbs their first possession at their 19. They picked up one first down in the possession, but the Black Flag Defense rose to the occasion on the next series and forced a punt that died at the Gilmer 18.
The Bux moved down to the Atlanta 19 on the ensuing possession, but on a fourth-and-one, the Rabbit defense held their ground and the ball went back to the home team once again at their 19. Barr hit Desmond Pollard for a gain of 15 and picked up 19 on a quarterback run during the drive.
The Black Flag forced a three-and-out on the next Atlanta possession, and the offense went to work after a 30-yard punt at the Gilmer 43. From that spot, the Buckeyes moved 51 yards in eight plays over 2:43 and got on the scoreboard with a 23-yard field goal from Pablin Olivares, giving the visitors a 3-0 lead with just 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Rabbits came right back with the longest drive by either team during the contest on their next possession. Everett Dickerson began things with a kickoff return from his 10 out to the 28. From there, the offensive unit kept the ball for 6:38 and 13 plays and moved 65 yards, settling for a 24-yard field goal by Ruben Duran with 5:38 left in the first half of play. The kick tied the score at 3-3. Big plays in the lengthy drive were runs of 21 and 12 by Everett Dickerson on the first two plays of the drive and a 12-yard run by Corion Webster.
It was apparent on their ensuing possession that the Buckeye offense was gaining confidence and they were determined to get into the end zone. Josh Walker returned the kick from the 23 out to the 35. Atlanta was off sides on the kick, so the Bucks got an extra five yards added onto the end of the run and set up at the 40.
It took only 2:20 and five plays for Gilmer to move the sixty yards into the end zone for the first touchdown of the evening. Tate ran for six on first down before the offense was penalized five yards for a false start. Barr then completed a 49-yard pass to Tate before Barr gained three. Atlanta was called for a face mask on the play, and after a 3-yard penalty, Walker ran in for the score from four yards out with 3:11 left in the first half. Olivares added the PAT and the Bucks were on top 10-3.
The Black Flag Defense forced another three-and-out on the next Atlanta possession, and following a botched punt that lost sixteen yards, Gilmer was back in business on the Rabb 25 with 1:48 left in the half. It took only 33 seconds and two plays for the Buckeyes to drive a dagger into the heart of the Rabbits. Barr completed a 5-yard pass to Walker and then found Patrick Finch on a 20-yard scoring pass. After Olivares added the point after, Gilmer moved out to a comfortable 17-3 lead.
Atlanta set up on their 32 after Dickerson returned the kickoff from his 13 to the 32. Webster gained twenty-five yards on runs of eight and 17 yards on successive plays, but on the last play of the first half. Justus Cheatham intercepted the ball and returned it down to the Atlanta 10. Gilmer was called for an illegal block at their 42, but the half was over before another play could be run.
The Buckeyes kicked off to start the second half. Dickerson returned the kick from his 16 to the 35. The Rabbs came up empty on the possession, as the Gilmer defense forced yet another three-and-out. After a punt to the Gilmer 31, the offense hit the field again. This time it took only one play for the Bucks to light up the scoreboard, as Barr hit a streaking DeVondrick Dixon on a 69-yard scoring strike that took only 10 seconds off the clock. Olivares split the uprights on the point after, and the Bucks held a commanding 23-3 lead with exactly 10:00 left in the third quarter.
Atlanta picked up two first downs on their next possession before the defense came to life and forced a punt. Gilmer started at their 25 and picked up one first down, but then committed a costly turnover when Barr attempted to lateral to Walker. The toss was close to being a forward pass, but Atlanta’s defense realized it was a lateral and beat Walker to the pigskin and took over possession at the Buckeye 33.
The turnover, Gilmer’s only one on the night, fired up a team that was pretty much down and out. It took the Rabbits only three plays and 1:09 to find the end zone for the first time in the game. Webster gained 9 on first down, Dickerson followed for a gain of six, and then Chase Musgrove hit Nick Stiger from 18 yards out with 4:37 left in the third. Derrick Dowden ran in a 2-point conversion, and Atlanta cut the deficit to 24-11.
Wanting to make atonement for the previous turnover, the Buckeyes started their next drive at their 39 after Brandon Barnes returned the kick from the 24 to the 39. It took nine plays and 2:11 for the offense to move the 61 yards into the end zone and drive the final dagger into the heart of the Rabbits.
Big plays in the drive were a 17-yard pass from Barr to Finch, a 28-yard run by Kris Boyd, and a 22-yard scoring strike from Barr to Dixon. After Olivares’ successful PAT kick, Gilmer led 31-11 with 2:19 left in the third quarter.
Dickerson returned the ensuing kick from his 10 out to the 27, but an illegal block moved the pigskin back to the 13. The Rabbs were determined not to give up, as they held onto the ball for 3:49 and marched on a 7-play, 87-yard scoring drive for their final tally of the night. The big play of the drive was the score itself, a 54-yard TD run by Webster with 10:21 left in the game. Dickerson attempted to run for the two-point conversion, but was denied by the defense, making the score 31-17 in favor of the Buckeyes.
Gilmer had two more possessions and Atlanta had one additional possession, but there was no more scoring the rest of the contest. The Buckeyes certainly could have scored on their last possession, but in the spirit of sportsmanship, Barr drained the 25-second clock down to two seconds before each snap near the end of the game and took a knee in the victory formation on the last play of the game.
Coach Traylor, as always, pointed out his team can still improve, though they had a solid offensive performance and a dominating defense in the first game. “We turned the ball over and gave them seven cheap ones; you just can’t do that. Tanner will learn from his mistake and Chase will learn from his mistake, and then they had the big play (Webster’s 54-yard scoring run), and then they had the field goal. Our defense was just fantastic…fantastic! Our offense did just enough to win. It wasn’t perfect, but we did enough to win—we’ll get better. You see the most improvement from the first game to the second game always. We got a lot of things to work on, but we just happened to win tonight. It’ll mean nothing when we play Gladewater. We’ll all start out 0-0, but it is so fun to win tonight. All the work my kids have done all spring and summer and 7-on-7, two-a-days, and there’s just so many changes. We had injuries and had a lot of young kids step up. Jamel Jackson stepped up for Dylan (Bowman) and you had John McPherson step up for Adam (Witcher). It’s just shows who my kids are. Xavier (Fluellen) played hurt. Josh (Walker) went down early. New running backs went out there. It just shows you what my team is all about.”
The Buckeyes hit the road again Friday, Sept. 7, when they travel to Plano to take on Prestonwood Christian Academy, a Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) member operated by the Southern Baptist megachurch of the same name. Coach Traylor had nothing but praise for the upcoming opponent. “They have the No. 1 recruit in the country at linebacker. He set a new all-time Nike SPARQ record for best athlete in the country. We’re fixing to play some freaks, and they’re really good. It is a private school, so you know what all that entails, and then we’ve got to go there. Their sideline (stands) is very, very small, so go get on their home side. We need to really show up.”
Mrs. Lena Childress has chartered a bus for anyone who wants to ride in comfort to the game. The cost is $25 per person, and you can contact her if you want to get on the list for the bus.
Probably due in part to the concerns about potential heavy rain from Tropical Storm Isaac, the Gilmer contingent at Rose Stadium was not near close to what we have become accustomed to seeing. Make sure to make plans to get to Plano Friday night for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff and support your Buckeyes as the go for 2-0 on the young season!
Gilmer 31, Atlanta 17