Key Gilmer Offensive Players Finish Adding On To Wild Season Numbers
ARLINGTON -- Two years removed from a hard loss to Navasota, the Gilmer Buckeyes returned to the postgame championship interview room podium to discuss their latest state title game.
This time as Class 4A Division II champions.
The best of more than 80 teams statewide in the division. The third of three state championship teams in school history, dating back to its first win in 2004.
"When you've got a horse, ride him," Buckeyes head coach Jeff Traylor said. "I've got some horses. That's why you sit here. You don't sit here without players. I've had great players for 15 years now."
This particular team got there with a 35-25 come-from-behind win against West Orange-Stark on Friday. It was easily the most exciting game up to its point in the 2014 UIL State Championships slate at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Gilmer trailed 25-7 at halftime. The offense scored 21 second half points, the defense added a fumble recovery in the end zone for a score and special teams played a major factor in the win.
It was Gilmer's lowest offensive performance in points of the season and it theoretically came against the most evenly matched opponent in the state.
The unit finished the year with 8,553 yards and 125 touchdowns. It was the major player in the team's 950 points scored during the season, a state second-best mark only exceeded by an Aledo team which also won a state championship last season.
Blake Lynch, a Baylor commitment who also graduated the school Friday, accumulated 2,223 total yards of offense and 35 touchdowns in addition to 45 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble. He'll be a college student in Waco next month.
Receiver Quinn Fluellen exited his time as a Buckeye with 639 receiving yards on 46 catches, including some big grabs to extend drives in the second half of the title game. Chase Tate finished a 60-game career dating back to his freshman season with 1,259 total yards his senior season.
Universal athlete Kris Boyd, like Lynch, will certainly play college football. He is due to decide within two months between 13 schools that have invited him to join their team, including College Football Playoff contenders Alabama and Florida State.
Boyd finished his final high school season with 1,854 yards and crossed the 1,000-yard rushing threshold in Friday's win with 84 yards on 19 carries.
A word Gilmer players have been noted to throw around is 'brotherhood.' The alumni of the Buckeyes program, a group those standouts had joined just moments beforehand, are a fiercely loyal bunch.
And they're frustrated teammate and southpaw quarterback McLane Carter exhausted eligibility without any college football offers. That does not necessarily mean the signal caller will not play college football on a scholarship next season, but most seniors players without an offer in December will either walk on or give up the game.
Carter finished his first and only year as the starter at Gilmer with 3,964 passing yards, 47 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 239 yards and notched his last high school touchdown in the title game. As in 13 of the first 15 games of the season, he did not throw an interception.
Three incompletions were unquestionably receiver error, two potentially dropped touchdowns.
"Let me say this about McLane Carter to all those college coaches that are so smart," Traylor said. "Get a mirror so you can coach a left-handed kid. Get a mirror and he's right-handed. It ain't that complicated. 'We don't want a left-handed quarterback.' Well then get a mirror and coach him backwards. I don't know what to tell you.
"Kid can spin the ball. He's a great leader. A competitor. I mean, really? Is it that hard to coach a left hander? Somebody is missing the jewel here."
Boyd was muttering his own comments during Traylor's appeal. Lynch also nodded in approval with what was being said.
Carter played it cool.
"I really don't even thing about it," he said. "I don't think about it at all, actually. I just want to go out here and lead my team to victory. I don't really focus on anything else. I just want my guys to know I have their back. That I have their back and I'm playing for Dezmond (Pollard).
"I'm waiting. I want it to happen, but this is what I've been waiting for. To win a state championship. I'm happy for my team."
This Gilmer team had legendary offensive talent.
Will colleges deem any more of it fit for the next level?
"I've never coached a kid who played a perfect game in his life," Traylor said. "But we had perfect effort today. Not perfect execution. For 15 years, my kids have given perfect effort. And they're talented. That's why we win."