CLASS 4A DIVISION II
State Semifinal

Celina Bobcats (12-2)

vs.

No. 3 Gilmer Buckeyes (14-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas

 

Coaches
  • Celina: Bill Elliott
  • Gilmer: Jeff Traylor

 

Road to semifinals

Celina

  • Bi-district: def. Dallas Madison, 67-2
  • Area: def. Monahans, 43-15
  • Region I semifinal: def. Iowa Park, 56-27
  • Region I final: def. Sweetwater, 41-34

 

Gilmer

 

Next week
  • Winner faces winner between West Orange-Stark and Sinton, 4A Division II state championship game, noon Friday (Dec. 19), AT&T Stadium in Arlington

 

Playmakers

Celina

  • QB Nathan Elliott, Sr., 6-2, 205 (158 of 233, 2,493 yards, 44 TDs, 7 INTs; 67 carries, 146 yards, 2 TDs; committed to North Carolina)
  • RB Jarren Alexander, Jr., 5-8, 195 (145 carries, 1,372 yards, 10 TDs; 17 catches, 329 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR Chase Marler, Sr., 6-1, 175 (35 catches, 632 yards, 11 TDs)
  • WR Cash Conder, Sr., 6-0, 195 (14 catches, 146 yards, TD; 26 carries, 168 yards, 4 TDs; committed to Western Michigan)
  • RB Nick Grant, Sr., 6-0, 195 (38 carries, 205 yards, 10 TDs)
  • WR Trace Young, Jr., 5-11, 165 (22 catches, 285 yards, 6 TDs; 29 carries, 223 yards, 3 TDs)
  • RB John Franklin, Soph., 6-0, 185 (46 carries, 368 yards, 6 TDs; 8 catches, 147 yards, 4 TDs)

 

Gilmer

  • ATH Kris Boyd, Sr., 6-0, 181 (82 carries, 879 yards, 20 TDs; 31 catches, 718 yards, 8 TDs; 35 tackles, INT, PBU, fumble recovery)
  • ATH Blake Lynch, Sr., 6-3, 195 (13 of 17, 289 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 63 carries, 812 yards, 16 TDs; 41 catches, 801 yards, 13 TDs; 36 tackles, 2 INTs, 4 PBUs, forced fumble, 4 recoveries; committed to Baylor)
  • RB/LB Demarco Boyd, Jr., 6-0, 205 (27 carries, 260 yards, 6 TDs; 9 catches, 91 yards, TD; 90 tackles, 9.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, 9 QB pressures, 4 forced fumble, recovery, INT, PBU)
  • QB McLane Carter, Sr., 6-3, 180 (194 of 259, 3,454 yards, 40 TDs, 2 INTs)
  • WR Chase Tate, Sr., 5-6, 150 (46 catches, 742 yards, 6 TDs; 37 carries, 466 yards, 4 TDs)
  • WR Nick Smith, Sr., 5-11, 160 (36 catches, 736 yards, 8 TDs)
  • LB Kelton Collier, Soph., 5-10, 185 (109 tackles, 3 INTs, PBU, 3 fumble recoveries)
  • WR Quinn Fluellen, Sr., 6-2, 170 (38 catches, 553 yards, 6 TDs)

 

Just the facts
  • Celina has won seven state championships overall, and is shooting for its ninth all-time appearance in the state title game.
  • Gilmer is hoping to reach its fifth state final since 2004. The Buckeyes are 4-0 in state semifinals under head coach Jeff Traylor.
  • Celina is averaging 47 points and 472.9 yards per game -- 277.2 rushing and 195.7 passing.
  • Celina has not reached the state title game since 2008. In the years since, the Bobcats have two area-round appearances, two regional semifinalist finishes and a first-round defeat. Henderson eliminated Celina in the third round in both 2011 and 2012.
  • The cumulative record of Celina's opponents this season is 87-79 (.524). The Bobcats' two losses came to Argyle (41-29) and Dallas Bishop Lynch (40-21) in Week 3 and 4, respectively.
  • Gilmer, which has scored 848 points on the season, needs 54 pass to surpass 2011 Refugio for the second-most single-season points in state history. Last year's Aledo team holds the record with 1,023.
  • Gilmer is averaging 59.6 points and 544.6 yards per game -- 246.9 rushing and 297.7 passing.
  • Gilmer's previous four semifinal wins came against Snyder (2004, 53-20), Abilene Wylie (2007, 28-21), Cuero (2009, 42-36) and Graham (2012, 50-7).
  • The cumulative record of Gilmer's opponents this season is 82-79 (.509).

 

Gilmer ATH Kris Boyd. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Gilmer's offensive skill-position players vs. Celina defense. Both Gilmer and Celina employ a multitude of players in their respective offensive attacks. For Gilmer, five players have attempted passes and thrown touchdowns, 18 Buckeyes have at least one rushing attempt and 10 have scored rushing touchdowns, and 24 have caught at least one pass and 11 have scoring receptions. Celina, meanwhile, has had four players attempt passes, 27 have rushing attempts and 12 have run for touchdowns, and 17 have at least one catch and 12 different Bobcats have scoring receptions. As good Celina has been on offense this season, the Bobcats pale in comparison to Gilmer, which averages 12 more points and 70 more yards per game than Celina. So, more pressure will be on the Bobcats' defense to slow down a Gilmer offense that's approaching 900 total points on the season.

Gilmer's Blake Lynch catches a pass one-handed during the Buckeyes' 41-35 win at Tatum on Sept. 12. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

The Buckeyes' offensive attack, as diverse as it is, funnels through the three-man coprs of quarterback McLane Carter, running back/receiver Kris Boyd and multi-purpose back Blake Lynch. Carter has passed for more than 3,400 yards and 40 touchdowns with just two interceptions in 259 attempts, and those numbers come with Carter splitting snaps at quarterback with Lynch, who often lines up behind center in short-yardage or red-zone situations. Boyd, one of the most coveted uncommitted recruits in the country, has 1,597 yards of offense on just 113 touches -- an average of 14.1 per rush/reception -- with 28 touchdowns. Lynch, a Baylor commit, has been just as lethal. He's thrown for 289 yards and three touchdowns on 13 of 17 completions, and combined for 1,613 yards rushing and receiving on 104 rushes/receptions -- an average of 15.5 yards per touch -- with 29 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the foursome of Chase Tate, Nick Smith, Quinn Fluellen and Jamel Jackson have combined for 3,070 yards of offense and accounted for 34 touchdowns.

On the season, Celina is allowing 16.2 points and only 248.4 yards per game -- 132.5 rushing and 115.9 passing. The Bobcats have held half of their 14 opponents to less than 100 rushing yards in a game this season, and only three teams have eclipsed 400 total yards in a game on them -- two of those teams (Argyle, Dallas Bishop Lynch) are responsible for Celina's only two losses, and the other was last week's quarterfinal opponent, Sweetwater. Statistically-speaking, Celina's defense will present Gilmer's offense with its biggest challenge to date. But what does that really mean? The lowest single-game point total for the Buckeyes this season is 41, and it's hard to imagine Gilmer's high-flying attack that put up 64 points last week will be limited to less than 40 points this week.

Gilmer QB McLane Carter. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Celina tries to keep Gilmer's explosive offense on the sidelines as long as possible with time-consuming drives that feature heavy doses of running back Jarrien Anderson and the Bobcats' army of ball carriers. That formula was nearly successful two weeks ago when Gladewater held a 21-minute advantage in time of possession, and came within inches and a handful of seconds from knocking off the Buckeyes in the regional semifinals. But as Gladewater found out that night, no lead is safe. Gilmer, trailing 35-33, began its game-winning drive from its own 18-yard line with 1:09 remaining and no timeouts. The Buckeyes ended up moving 82 yards in eight plays in just 60 seconds, scoring the game-winner on a 23-yard run by Boyd with nine seconds to play. With Gilmer's quick-strike ability on offense, it's extremely important for Celina to be efficient and methodical when it has the ball. If not, the Buckeyes' offensive machine should keep on rolling.