League Unbeatens Bullard + No. 2 Gilmer Square Off Friday
DISTRICT 5-4A DIVISION II
Bullard Panthers (5-2, 2-0)
No. 2 Gilmer Buckeyes (7-0, 2-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer
- Bullard: Shannon Wilson
- Gilmer: Matt Turner
- Bullard: def. Nevada Community, 38-19
- Gilmer: def. Canton, 45-19
- Bullard: vs. Melissa, Oct. 30
- Gilmer: at Nevada Community, Oct. 30
- WR/TE Major Tennison, Jr., 6-6, 240 (committed to Texas)
- QB Cleet Bowman, Soph., 6-0, 185
- RB/DB Tre Crayton, Jr., 5-10, 185
- FB/LB Brooks Parham, Jr., 5-11, 215
- WR/DB Nic Costas, Soph., 5-10, 145
- QB Hood Taylor, Soph., 5-11, 175
- RB/LB Jacob Johnson, Soph., 5-9, 155
- WR/DB Drake Daly, Sr., 6-1, 165
- RB/DL/LB Demarco Boyd, Sr., 6-0, 220 (49 carries, 307 yards, 8 TDs; 21 catches, 275 yards, 3 TDs; 24 tackles, 1 sack, 7 QB pressures, 1 INT, 1 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery; committed to Texas)
- RB Kelton Collier, Jr., 6-0, 200 (85 carries, 450 yards, 7 TD)
- QB Zac Spears, Sr., 5-9, 170 (88 of 149, 1,064 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs; 19 carries, 75 yards)
- WR Zod Heath, Sr., 5-11, 175 (20 catches, 225 yards, 3 TDs
- DB Kollin Hurt, Jr., 6-3, 170 (38 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 PBUs)
- LB Cambron Granville, Jr., 5-7, 160 (33 tackles, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 1 forced fumble)
- LB Tristan Olivares, Sr., 5-7, 185 (37 tackles, 7 sacks, 11 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble)
- DL Dustin Brown, Jr. (13 tackles, 7 QB pressures, 2 fumble recoveries)
Just the facts
- Bullard and Gilmer have met just seven times. Gilmer has won all seven, including the last five -- from 2008-14 -- by an average score of 57-12.
- Bullard is 2-0 in district for the first time under sixth-year head coach Shannon Wilson.
- Bullard is averaging 30.7 points per game.
- The Panthers are allowing 18.3 points per game.
- Wilson has led the Panthers to a combined 11-16 district record. Bullard was 6-23 in the six years prior to his arrival.
- Gilmer is averaging 39.1 points and 413.1 yards per game -- 235 rushing and 178.1 passing.
- The Buckeyes are giving up 17.9 points per game.
- Gilmer has won 23 consecutive games overall, and is 5-0 this year at Jeff Traylor Stadium, which was renamed prior to the season.
Key matchup: Gilmer passing attack vs. Bullard secondary. Coming into the season, Gilmer senior quarterback Zac Spears had some big shoes to fill. The graduated McLane Carter (Incarnate Word) and Blake Lynch (Baylor) combined for 4,258 passing yards and 50 touchdowns in leading Gilmer to the program's third state championship. And while it's unlikely Spears will reach those astonishing numbers in a possible 16-game 2015 season, the Buckeyes' signal caller appears to be coming into his own. Through his first three games this season, Spears was completing less than half of his passing attempts. In his las six, he's connecting at a 69-percent clip. Spears' productivity has increased as well, roughly two-fold -- 381 yards and four TDs the first three weeks, and 683 yards and eight scoring passes the last three.
Gilmer's situation at the skill positions is the same as its always been: remarkably deep. In seven games, 16 different Buckeyes have at least one reception, and eight have combined to catch Gilmer's 13 receiving touchdowns as a team. Oddly enough, the Buckeyes' leader in catches is senior running back and Texas commit Demarco Boyd, who enters Friday with 21 receptions, 275 yards, and three touchdowns. The wide-array of pass-catching targets Gilmer possesses make it virtually impossible for opposing defenses to zero in on any one or two targets. Instead, it comes down to the defense beating the scheme, which in GIlmer's case, is rooted in athleticism and speed. More often than not, the Buckeyes are going to win that battle.
Don't be surprised if: Neither Gilmer nor Bullard light up the scoreboard. Taking nothing away from the respective offenses, this has more to do with each team's defense. While the Buckeyes became the state's second-highest, single-season scoring team of all time on the way to the 2014 title, it was Gilmer's defense that finished the job by forcing three second-half turnovers in a comeback win over West Orange-Stark in the 4A Division II final. Most of the Buckeyes' defense returned in 2015, including Boyd, who will enroll at Texas in January after signing his financial-aid agreement documents earlier this week. Bullard, meanwhile, has been among East Texas' stingiest defensive units this season. The Panthers have a shutout on their résumé, and have limited each of their last three opponents to 20 or fewer points.