No. 8 Gilmer Buckeyes (0-0)

vs.

Liberty-Eylau Leopards (0-0)

7:30 p.m. Thursday
Rose Stadium, Tyler

Coaches
  • Gilmer: Jeff Traylor
  • Liberty-Eylau: Steve Wells

 

Next week
  • Gilmer: at Pine Tree, Sept. 5
  • Liberty-Eylau: vs. Mount Pleasant, Sept. 5

 

Playmakers

Gilmer

  • RB/CB Kris Boyd, Sr., 6-1, 185 (113 carries, 1,191 yards, 19 TDs; 22 catches, 333 yards, 4 TDs; 26 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 2 PBU)
  • WR/S Blake Lynch, Sr., 6-3, 195 (750 passing yards, 11 TDs; 850 rushing yards, 13 TDs in 6 games; transfer from Troup; committed to Baylor)
  • RB/LB Demarco Boyd, Jr., 6-0, 215 (13 carries, 166 yards, TD; 3 catches, 45 yards; 48 tackles, 18 for loss, 6 sacks, 8 QB pressures, 7 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
  • QB McLane Carter, Sr., 6-2, 190 (185 of 322, 2,476 yards, 24 TDs, 10 INTs; transfer from Salado)
  • WR Chase Tate, Sr., 5-6, 150 (39 catches, 603 yards, 6 TDs; 16 carries, 176 yards, 2 TDs
  • WR/DB Nick Smith, Sr., 6-2, 185 (28 catches, 374 yards, 4 TDs; 10 tackles, 2 PBU)
  • RB Jamel Jackson, Sr., 5-8, 190 (57 carries, 403 yards, 7 TDs)
  • DL Dakota Williamson, Sr., 6-4, 250 (35 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB pressures)

 

Liberty-Eylau

  • RB Donelle Hoof, Sr., 5-5, 163 (660 rushing yards, 6 TDs)
  • LB Ricky Jackson, Sr., 5-11, 232
  • DB Corey Braxton, Sr., 6-0, 160 (58 tackles)
  • WR Malcolm Gant, Sr., 6-0, 165
  • RB D.Q. Steels, Sr., 5-7, 165 (602 rushing yards, 4 TDs)
  • LB Ricardo Lockett, Sr., 5-8, 185
  • QB Kemon Freeman, Jr., 5-10, 180
  • DB Thurman Morbley, Jr., 5-10, 150

 

Just the facts
  • This is the eighth meeting since 2006 between Gilmer and Liberty-Eylau. The Buckeyes lead the series, 6-1.
  • Liberty-Eylau defeated unbeaten Gilmer in the first round of the 2006 playoffs, and went on to win the state championship.
  • Gilmer has won 12 consecutive season openers. Its last loss was in 2001, a 20-14 decision against Gladewater.
  • The Buckeyes' record under head coach Jeff Traylor is 159-26.
  • Gilmer returns four offensive and three defensive starters from last season's 11-2 team, which reached the 3A Division II regional semifinals.
  • Liberty-Eylau has won eight of its last 10 season openers, and six consecutive.
  • Since winning the 2006 state championship, Liberty-Eylau is 39-36 with zero postseason wins.
  • Liberty-Eylau returns three offensive and three defensive starters from last season's 6-5 Class 3A Division I bi-district finalist.

 

Gilmer WR Quinn Fluellen. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Gilmer's offensive skill-position players vs. Liberty-Eylau's back-seven defenders. The speed at which the Buckeyes' offense operates, coupled with an array of quick timing routes, make it almost impossible for an opposing defensive front to generate an effective pass rush. In effect, Gilmer takes a lot of the pressure off its offensive line. The no-huddle, spread offense Gilmer runs has several built-in advantages, but there are two primary effects. Gilmer rarely lets the play clock run down very long before snapping, which puts defenses on its heels and occasionally catches defenders out of alignment. Secondly, four- and five-receiver sets are especially common for Gilmer, which spreads the field and forces defenders to cover more area. And in an offense deep and talented at running back and receiver, that can be often be a deadly combination for the defense.

Spread offenses have become the norm across the state of Texas, but what sets Gilmer apart from most programs is its willingness to get more than just two or three players involved in the game plan. Generally, the only Buckeyes offensive player that finishes a season with gaudy numbers is the quarterback. And that's only because there can be just one of them. Despite annually fielding among the area's most productive offenses, Gilmer running backs rarely rush for more than 2,000 yards and receivers hardly ever finish with more than 1,000 yards. This causes quite the dilemma for defensive coaches, who spend the week developing a game plan on how to defend Gilmer.

Liberty-Eylau DB Corey Braxton. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Gilmer looks to be in mid-season form Thursday night. The Buckeyes shined in their first scrimmage of the season against Whitehouse two weeks ago. Gilmer has won 12 consecutive season openers, which speaks to the staff's ability to get its players ready to go right out of the gate. The Buckeyes will be breaking in a new quarterback, sort of. Senior McLane Carter began his high school career at Gilmer, but after being beat out by Tanner Barr for the starting job prior to the 2012 season, transferred to Salado. Carter flourished at Salado, despite the team's overall lack of success, and already has a fairly firm grasp on Gilmer's offensive concepts because of his prior experience with the Buckeyes.

It will also be interesting to see how senior Blake Lynch, another transfer, fits into Gilmer's offense. Lynch, a Baylor commit originally from Troup, has worked out at receiver and looked smooth during 7-on-7 competition over the summer. Adding a player of Lynch's caliber to an already deep receiving corps that features seniors Chase Tate, Nick Smith and Quinn Fluellen, only heightens the sky-high expectations that have become routine at Gilmer during Traylor's 15-year tenure. And then there's the running game, which features the sibling tandem of senior Kris Boyd and junior Demarco Boyd, along with senior Jamel Jackson. It won't be fun for any defense to line up across from Gilmer this season, and if the Buckeyes are in top form this week, it could be a long night for a Liberty-Eylau defense breaking in several new starters.