Unbeaten Gilmer Meets West Orange-Stark For Class 4A Division II State Championship
CLASS 4A DIVISION II
West Orange-Stark Mustangs (13-2)
No. 3 Gilmer Buckeyes (15-0)
AT&T Stadium, Arlington
- West Orange-Stark: Cornel Thompson
- Gilmer: Jeff Traylor
Road to Arlington
- Bi-district: def. Houston Scarborough, 64-0
- Area: def. Giddings, 34-14
- Region III semifinal: def. La Marque, 34-0
- Region III final: def. La Grange, 42-7
- Semifinal: def. Sinton, 42-21
- Bi-district: def. Pleasant Grove, 50-7
- Area: def. Waco Connally, 80-21
- Region II semifinal: def. Gladewater, 41-35
- Region II final: def. Atlanta, 64-25
- Semifinal: def. Celina, 67-14
- WR/S Deionte Thompson, Sr., 6-1, 175 (50 catches, 850 yards, 14 TDs; 133 tackles, 5 INTs; committed to Alabama)
- RB/LB Trey Baldwin, Jr., 6-2, 213 (67 carries, 444 yards, 12 TDs; 16 catches, 183 yards, 3 TDs; 6 sacks)
- WR/CB Trey Spencer, Sr., 6-0, 175 (14 catches, 212 yards, 2 TDs; 7 carries, 56 yards, TD; 55 tackles, 4 INTs; committed to Louisiana Tech)
- WR/DB Will Johnson, Sr., 6-1, 190 (44 catches, 672 yards, 6 TDs; 43 carries, 205 yards, 5 TDs; 2 INTs)
- QB Jack Dallas, Soph., 5-9, 175 (153 of 268, 2,253 yards, 29 TDs, 6 INTs; 38 carries, 131 yards, 3 TDs)
- DT Octavis Crosson, Sr., 5-11, 225 (2 sacks)
- RB/CB Kris Boyd, Sr., 6-0, 181 (89 carries, 965 yards, 21 TDs; 32 catches, 744 yards, 9 TDs; 40 tackles, 1 for loss, INT, 2 PBUs, fumble recovery)
- ATH Blake Lynch, Sr., 6-3, 195 (13 of 17, 289 yards, 3 TDs, INT; 67 carries, 867 yards, 17 TDs; 45 catches, 947 yards, 16 TDs; 40 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, forced fumble, 4 recoveries; committed to Baylor)
- QB McLane Carter, Sr., 6-3, 180 (205 of 274, 3,719 yards, 46 TDs, 2 INTs; 11 carries, 81 yards)
- RB/LB Demarco Boyd, Jr., 6-0, 205 (27 carries, 260 yards, 6 TDs; 9 catches, 91 yards, TD; 95 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks, 11 QB pressures, 4 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, INT, PBU)
- WR Chase Tate, Sr., 5-6, 150 (47 catches, 748 yards, 6 TDs; 45 carries, 504 yards, 5 TDs)
- DB Blevin Burns, Sr., 5-9, 170 (60 tackles, sack, INT, fumble recovery)
- WR Quinn Fluellen, Sr., 6-2, 170 (41 catches, 581 yards, 7 TDs)
- RB Jamel Jackson, Sr., 5-8, 190 (73 carries, 543 yards, 11 TDs; 5 catches, 59 yards)
- WR Nick Smith, Sr., 5-11, 160 (38 catches, 795 yards, 9 TDs)
- LB Kelton Collier, Soph., 5-11, 185 (117 tackles, 3 INTs, PBU, 3 fumble recoveries)
- DL Dakota Williamson, Sr., 6-4, 280 (48 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 sacks, 4 QB pressures)
- DB Devin Smith, Jr., 5-10, 170 (97 tackles, 1 for loss, 2 INTs, forced fumble)
Just the facts
- Gilmer will be playing in its sixth state championship in program history, and fifth in the last 11 seasons.
- The Buckeyes are 2-3 all-time in title games -- losing to Cameron in 1981, defeating Jasper in 2004, losing to Liberty Hill in 2007, defeating Abilene Wylie in 2009, and losing to Navasota in 2012.
- Gilmer and West Orange-Stark have met once before. Gilmer earned a 35-23 win over the Mustangs in the third round of the 2008 playoffs.
- Under head coach Jeff Traylor, Gilmer has compiled a record of 174-26 -- 39-11 in the playoffs.
- For the season, Gilmer is averaging 61 points and 546.6 yards per game -- 249.7 rushing and 296.9 passing.
- The cumulative record of Gilmer's opponents this season is 94-82. (.534).
- West Orange-Stark will be playing in its fifth state championship game in program history, and first since 2000.
- The Mustangs are 2-2 all-time in state title games -- defeating McKinney in 1986 and Rockwall in 1987, and losing to Paris in 1988 and Ennis in 2000.
- West Orange-Stark was eliminated in the quarterfinals in each of three previous seasons, losing to Coldspring-Oakurst in 2011, Navasota in 2012, and Carthage in 2013.
- The Mustangs have nine double-digit win seasons in the last 11 years.
- For the season, West Orange-Stark is averaging 36.7 points and 335.1 yards per game -- 175.1 rushing and 160 passing.
- The cumulative record of West Orange-Stark's opponents this season is 113-70 (.617)
Key matchup: Gilmer receivers vs. West Orange-Stark secondary. Teams do not reach the state championship round without possessing multiple strengths on either side of the ball, and without a doubt, the most intriguing matchup of Friday's 4A Division II final is Gilmer's deep and talented receiving corps against the Mustangs' defensive backs, two of whom have committed to Division I FBS college programs. Sure, the Buckeyes have a fantastic running game led by senior Kris Boyd. And yes, West Orange-Stark's defensive front has done a number on its last few playoff opponents. But the matchup most everyone wants to see, and the one that could end up being a deciding factor, is Gilmer's passing offense opposite WO-S' pass defense. What makes this particular battle even more interesting is that the two units are likely the best they've lined up against all season long. Despite throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns as a team, Gilmer can be equally lethal on the ground, but if the passing game is disrupted, those rushing yards could be tougher to come by.
Gilmer's receiving corps runs four deep, and occasionally five, when Boyd splits out wide. All four of the starting receivers -- Blake Lynch, Nick Smith, Quinn Fluellen, and Chase Tate -- have no fewer than 38 catches, and no more than 47. Lynch leads in yardage and touchdowns with 947 and 16 touchdowns, but none of the staring wideouts have less than 581 yards or fewer than six touchdowns. When Boyd is a part of the passing game on screens, Gilmer's offense is taken to another dimension. The star running back has nine touchdowns on 32 receptions with an average of 23.3 yards per catch, and most of his catches are on screen passes. The array of options in the passing game can have a debilitating effect on defenses, and never was that more apparent than in the Buckeyes' semifinal win over Celina last week. When Celina's defense played up, Gilmer's receivers were able to beat one-on-one coverage downfield -- one with Smith on a 49-yard touchdown, and three times with Lynch on touchdowns of 37, 29 and 60 yards. And when the Bobcats' defenders played back, Boyd turned his only reception into a 26-yard touchdown reception off a screen pass.
West Orange-Stark will counter with a defensive secondary that features two players committed to FBS programs -- safety and Alabama pledge Deionte Thompson, widely regarded as one of the nation's best at his position, and cornerback Trey Spencer, who's offered up a verbal commitment to Louisiana Tech. Will Johnson is another defensive back with Division I potential. Thompson and Johnson play both ways and are the Mustangs' two leading receivers, but it's their play play on defense that will command the attention of the Gilmer offense. Thompson has five interceptions on the year, and he's dangerous when he gets his hands on the ball, evidenced by his 101-yard punt return for a touchdown in last week's semifinal win over Sinton. Turnovers have been hard to come by for defenses against Gilmer this season, however. Buckeyes quarterback McLane Carter has thrown only two interceptions in 274 passing attempts.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is closely contested, at least in the first half. Gilmer has scored 62 first-quarter points in its last two playoff games en route to blowout wins in both, which suggests West Orange-Stark will do anything and everything in its power to prevent the game from slipping away in the early stages. Buckeyes coach Jeff Traylor has called West Orange-Stark's defense the best it will play this season, and even went as far as calling it "Navasota-like," in reference to the 2012 Class 3A Division II state championship game. Navasota's defense completely smothered the Gilmer offense that day, holding the Buckeyes to just three points and 162 total yards. However, Gilmer's offense is much better than it was two years ago, and it's hard to imagine any defense duplicating what Navasota accomplished. The biggest concern for West Orange-Stark may be if it can ultimately score enough points. The Mustangs average 36 points per game to Gilmer's 61, and West Orange-Stark is putting up less than 400 yards per game as an offense. It may take more than 40 points to defeat Gilmer, and that could be a difficult proposition; no team has scored more than 35 on the Buckeyes this season. West Orange-Stark will also be without the team's leading rusher, Grant LaPoint Teate, who suffered an ankle injury earlier in the playoffs.