If you want a good idea what Gilmer has returning for 2012 and is dealing with entering the new year, take a look at Henderson, the No. 4 team in the East Texas Sports Network’s Class 3A countdown.

Gilmer has a great returning defensive core led by class of 2014 studs Josh Walker (linebacker) and Tanner Barr (safety), as well as senior defensive tackle Xavier Fluellen. Sophomore speed demon Chase Tate will become a bigger part of the Buckeyes’ offense this season, and Walker may see more time at tailback, which is bad news for opposing 3A defenders. At 6-1, 220, he won’t be fun to tackle.

But the quarterback spot vacated by two high-caliber signal callers -- true dual-threat battering ram Luke Turner (Rice) and prolific passer Jordan Traylor -- is a question mark. Barr and fellow junior Jaidon Parrish, who played H-back last season, join sophomore McClane Carter as Gilmer’s options to run the offense.

Coach Jeff Traylor has proven that he grooms QBs as well as anyone, so whether it’s Barr, Parrish, Carter, or a combination of the three, Gilmer will score points and score a lot of them. In fact, in an even deeper District 16-3A than before, we’re picking the Buckeyes to win the league championship.

No pressure, huh, Buckeye Nation?

Last year’s senior class, which was repeatedly praised by Jeff Traylor for what he believed were its overachieving tendencies, will be hard to replace. But as the cliche goes, the Buckeyes don’t rebuild, they reload, and expect the same this year. As the top Division II seed from the “District of Doom 2.0,” Gilmer would have a more favorable road to the Region II championship, although a third-round meeting with Celina or Argyle, which beat Gilmer in the Region II title last season, could happen. Gilmer could also see a district rematch with Henderson or Chapel Hill in the regional final. If the Buckeyes got through that, a state semifinal matchup with Monahans or Alvarado could await them before a championship matchup against former Class 4A behemoth LaMarque.

3A Countdown

No. 3: Kilgore

No. 4: Henderson

No. 5: Chapel Hill

No. 6: Palestine

No. 7: Atlanta

No. 8: Van

No. 9: Jasper

No. 10: Rusk