Gilmer and Atlanta are very familiar with each other, and not only because they played twice in 2011 and have faced off five times since 2006. The Thursday night Aug. 30 season opener at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium, which has a brand new turf surface, is the 44th meeting involving the Buckeyes and Rabbits.

Since Atlanta’s 34-14 regional final win against Gilmer in 2003, which ended in a Rabbits state championship, Gilmer has won five consecutive matchups by an average score of 48.8-17.8.

But Atlanta owned the Buckeyes from 1966-2003, going 18-1 against Gilmer to help the Rabbits claim a 26-17 all-time edge entering this year’s tilt.

Gilmer beat Atlanta three times during the past two seasons: 63-28 in the 2010 season opener, 42-21 in the 2011 opener and 48-14 in last year’s Class 3A Division II Region II bi-district playoff. Those victories came despite Corion Webster (6-0, 190), who hopes to stop the Buckeye winning streak with another big performance. The Oklahoma State-committed senior tailback ran for 584 yards in those three games, including identical contests of 18 carries for 200 yards in the two season openers. Combined with SMU-bound backfield mate Everett Dickerson, Atlanta could finally buck the Buckeye trend.

But Gilmer returns seven defensive starters, including senior tackle and front-line anchor Xavier Fluellen (6-1, 260), along with junior linebacker Josh Walker (6-1, 220), who exploded onto the scene in 2011 with 130 tackles and nine sacks as a sophomore.

Both teams are garnering preseason love. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine ranks Gilmer 12th and picks the Buckeyes to win Districdt 16-3A, the “District of Doom.” The publication also lists Atlanta as 3A’s top darkhorse.

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No. 24: Gilmer vs. Daingerfield

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