Center Roughriders (1-0)

vs.

Gilmer Buckeyes (1-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer

Coaches

  • Center: Barry Bowman
  • Gilmer: Matt Turner
Last week

Next week
  • Center: at Gladewater, Sept. 9
  • Gilmer: at Argyle Liberty Christian, Sept. 9
Playmakers

Center

  • WR Octavius Evans, Sr., 6-2, 192
  • QB Kyle Parks, Sr., 6-1, 185
  • WR/DB K.J. Dones, Sr., 6-0, 175
  • WR/DB JaTerious Evans, Jr.
  • LB Adrian Johnson, Sr.
  • LB/DB Devin Randle, Sr., 5-8, 151
  • DB Keyshawn Barnes, Sr.
  • DL Robert King, Jr.

Gilmer

  • WR LaMarcus Morton, Sr., 6-1, 175 (committed to Oklahoma State)
  • DB Kollin Hurt, Sr., 6-3, 175 (committed to Louisiana Tech)
  • QB Aaron "Poppy" Brown, Jr., 5-6, 180
  • DL/LB Dustin Brown, Sr.
  • LB Myles Chumley, Sr.
  • ATH Kelton Collier, Sr., 6-0, 218
  • DB Kameryn Cuevas, Sr., 6-0, 165
  • WR/DB Desmond Jones, Sr., 5-8, 165
Just the facts
  • Friday's meeting is a rematch of a third-round game in the Class 4A Division II playoffs last season. Gilmer won that game, 36-21, and ultimately made an appearance in the state semifinals.
  • Center was promoted to Class 4A Division I during realignment, so this is the first and last time it will face the Buckeyes this season.
  • Oklahoma State fans, and Big 12 fans at large, should keep an eye on this game. Buckeyes receiver LaMarcus Morton is committed to Oklahoma State while Roughriders receiver Octavius Evans' two most high-profile offers are from Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
  • Buckeyes safety and receiver Kollin Hurt rounds out known college talent in the game to date. He's a Louisiana Tech safety commitment.
  • Gilmer quarterback Aaron "Poppy" Brown destroyed old Buckeyes quarterback G.J. Kinne's passing yardage in a single game record of 456 yards with 567 yards in his first varsity start a week ago against Liberty-Eylau. Brown, who played a part in six touchdowns, is only a junior.
  • Brown was awarded the ETSN.fm + Dairy Queen Offensive Player of the Week for his game.
  • Center quarterback Kyle Parks, a senior, does similar things on a weekly basis. He's a dual-threat seeking his first offer
  • Friday's contest is one of just three true home games for Gilmer all season. Its final three non-district games and first district game are road contests ahead of Gladewater visiting Oct. 14.
  • Gilmer is 15-1 under second-year head coach Matt Turner.
  • Center is 11-3 under second-year head coach Barry Bowman. One loss came to Gilmer.
  • The Roughriders will travel 86 miles one-way to meet the Buckeyes.
Center quarterback Kyle Parks can hurt the Buckeyes with his arm or on the ground. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Center's collective offense versus Gilmer's defense.

Poppy Brown exploded onto scene last week. He had great chemistry with Oklahoma State receiver commit LaMarcus Morton, got 10 other receivers involved in the game plan and scored a rushing touchdown despite a net of minus-24 yards after sacks.

It's up to the Roughriders' well-rounded offense to match the Buckeyes point-for-point. Everything starts with quarterback Kyle Parks. He threw for 166 yards against Gilmer in his second-to-last game and ran for a team-best 52 yards as well.

Running back Devin Randle can help Parks with a good game on the ground, but Center's absolute strength is its experienced receiving corps headlined by NCAA Division I FBS target Octavius Evans -- who caught for 101 yards the last time he faced Gilmer.

Gilmer safety Kollin Hurt makes contact with Center's DaCorey McGee during the two teams' playoff meeting Nov. 27. (Ruel Filipe, ETSN.fm)

K.J. Dones and JaTerious Evans are other receivers that pose serious threats to Gilmer's pass defense. They'll likely benefit from the Buckeyes' defensive backfield slanting coverages against Octavius Evans, as will Parks if he takes off to the other side of the field.

Buckeyes safety Kollin Hurt is an excellent asset up top. However, linebackers Dustin Brown, Myles Chumley and perhaps Kelton Collier at the linebacker spots are the key players for Gilmer fans to watch on defense. They must contain Parks in the pocket. If the linebackers can do that, they're in position to win battles on third and fourth down without Parks wiggling away from pressure and up the field.

Don't be surprised if: Center sticks around and threatens to win late into the ballgame against the slightly favored Buckeyes. The Roughriders retained their most valuable players on both sides of the ball, particularly on offense. Center is a much different opponent than Gilmer's last, Liberty-Eylau, which lost most of its valuable players on both sides of the ball to major college football programs.

Quarterback Kyle Parks is always one shake away from extending a drive, and Octavius Evans is a matchup advantage against anyone on the perimeter without another defensive resource being devoted. Even if LaMarcus Morton is paired against Evans at times as a cornerback.

And that's before factoring in the grudge element. It should be hard for Gilmer to put away the road team.

Center receiver Octavius Evans should be one of the best perimeter players Gilmer sees all season. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)