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Atlanta + Gilmer Open 2013 Football Season Thursday at Buckeye Stadium

Gilmer’s Tanner Barr (right) hands off to Josh Walker during the Buckeyes’ Aug. 16 scrimmage against Whitehouse at Gilmer’s Buckeye Stadium. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Atlanta Rabbits

vs.

No. 3 Gilmer Buckeyes

7:30 p.m. Thursday

Buckeye Stadium, Gilmer

 

Coaches
  • Atlanta: Matt McClure
  • Gilmer: Jeff Traylor

 

Next week
  • Atlanta: at Daingerfield
  • Gilmer: vs. Plano Prestonwood Christian

 

Last season
  • Gilmer 31, Atlanta 17 (season opener at Tyler’s TMF Rose Stadium)
  • Gilmer 57, Atlanta 13 (3A Division II Region II area playoff at Longview’s Lobo Stadium)

 

Playmakers

Atlanta

  • QB Chase Musgrove, Jr., 5-10, 175
  • DE Kenneth Houff, Sr., 6-2, 195
  • DT Gerald Andrews, Sr., 6-2, 250
  • OL Brandon Parkman, Sr., 6-2, 280
  • ATH DeQuan Allen, Jr.
  • ATH Damien Lawson, Sr.
  • WR Eddrick King, Jr.

 

Gilmer

  • RB/OLB Josh Walker, Sr., 6-1, 220 (committed to Texas A&M)
  • QB Tanner Barr, Sr., 6-1, 180
  • RB/DB Kris Boyd, Jr., 6-0, 175
  • HB/LB Jaidon Parrish, Sr., 6-0, 185
  • RB Jamel Jackson, Jr., 5-8, 170
  • WR/DB Devondrick Dixon, Sr., 5-9, 180 (committed to Texas State)
  • WR Chase Tate, Jr., 5-7, 150
  • OLB Demarco Boyd, Soph., 6-0, 205
  • LB Ardarius Johnson, Sr., 5-9, 160

 

Just the facts
  • Thursday’s game is the 46th meeting between Gilmer and Atlanta. The Rabbits lead the all-time series 26-19.
  • Atlanta went 18-1 against Gilmer from 1966-2003.
  • Gilmer has beaten Atlanta seven consecutive meetings, including twice each of the last two years.
  • Gilmer’s Josh Walker and Demarco Boyd, who play the hybrid outside linebacker spots in Gilmer’s 3-4 defensive front, combined for 15 sacks in 2012.
  • Walker has recorded 18 sacks during the last two seasons.
  • Gilmer QB Tanner Barr accounted for 3,849 total yards and 29 total touchdowns last season.
  • Gilmer has four players back who gained at least 516 yards from scrimmage in 2012: Kris Boyd, Josh Walker, Chase Tate, and Devondrick Dixon.
  • Atlanta graduated two Division I FBS signees in Oklahoma State running back Corion Webster and SMU defensive back Everett Dickerson.
  • Atlanta QB Chase Musgrove had a breakout sophomore season last year, passing for 1,186 yards and accounting for 19 total touchdowns.

 

Key matchup: Atlanta defensive front vs. Gilmer running game. Gilmer’s high-powered spread offense at times gets the less-than-accurate characterization as a pass-first unit that won’t commit to the run. A look at Gilmer’s play selection tells a different story.

Gilmer ran 551 times for 3,998 yards in 2012, when the Buckeyes threw 409 times for 3,035 yards. The play-selection ratio is 57.3-to-42.7, while the yardage ratio is 56.8 percent rushing to 43.2 percent passing. Go another season back to 2011 and the play-selection ratio even heavier rush: 59.3-to-40.7 with a yardage ratio of 50.5-to-49.5 rush-to-pass.

In other words, anyone who says head coach Jeff Traylor, offensive coordinator Matt Turner, and the Buckeyes are a pass-first offense isn’t doing his or her research. Yes, Gilmer likes to play uptempo, and the Buckeyes always know how to throw the ball well. But it all starts on the ground, as it does with so many high-powered, balanced offenses, whether spread or pro-style.

Gilmer RB/CB Kris Boyd. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Atlanta needs a big game out of returning defensive line starters Kenneth Houff and Gerald Andrews, who should give the Rabbits some size in the trenches. Atlanta kept Gilmer from having a huge rushing game in last year’s season opener (32 carries, 180 yards), but the Buckeyes gashed Atlanta for 335 rushing yards in last year’s 57-13 second-round rout.

Don’t be surprised if: Both teams show some early rust, but Gilmer starts pulling away after halftime. Last season’s Atlanta team was a talented one, but 14 starters are gone from that team and only four starters return on each side of the ball.

Gilmer, however, returns 13 starters, including its starting quarterback, top six rushers, and five of its top seven pass-catchers. If the Rabbits didn’t have the firepower to snap their losing streak to Gilmer when Corion Webster and Everett Dickerson were suiting up, then it may be too much to ask Atlanta to beat the Buckeyes this week for the first time since the 2003 state quarterfinals.

 

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