Third-Ranked Gilmer + Tatum Renew Competitive Series
Tatum Eagles (0-1)
No. 3 Gilmer Buckeyes (2-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer
- Tatum: Andy Evans
- Gilmer: Matt Turner
- Tatum: idle
- Gilmer: def. Pine Tree, 35-19
- Tatum: vs. Liberty-Eylau, Sept. 18
- Gilmer: vs. Daingerfield, Sept. 18
- QB J.D. Taylor, Sr., 6-2, 180
- TE/DL Shay Rodgers, Jr., 6-4, 240
- LB Da'Calen Hicks, Sr., 6-0, 190
- RB Denarius Earl, Sr., 5-7, 150
- RB Josh Ivy, Sr., 5-7, 175
- LB D'Torian Smith, Jr., 6-3, 220
- WR/DB Jamaine Moore, Sr., 6-2, 165
- LB Ke'Traelan Harrison, Sr.
- RB/LB Demarco Boyd, Sr., 6-0, 215 (committed to Texas)
- RB/LB Kelton Collier, Jr., 6-0, 200
- QB Zac Spears, Sr., 5-9, 170
- RB Rashaad Ward, Soph., 5-7, 200
- DL Tristan Olivares, Sr., 5-7, 185
- WR Zod Heath, Sr., 5-11, 165
- DB Devin Smith, Sr., 5-10, 165
- WR/DB Kollin Hurt, Jr., 5-11, 170
Just the facts
- This is the 24th meeting between Gilmer and Tatum. Gilmer leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1986, 16-7.
- Tatum and Gilmer are two of the winningest programs in East Texas since 2000. Tatum has posted a 143-48 (.749) record, while Gilmer is 177-26 (.872).
- During the regular season, Tatum is 16-3 after losses under head coach Andy Evans.
- Tatum is hoping to avoid its first 0-2 start to a season since 2008.
- The Eagles' first four non-district opponents -- Newton, Gilmer, Liberty-Eylau, and Chapel Hill -- have all won state championships since 2005.
- Gilmer's 2010 loss to Tatum snapped the Buckeyes' 34-game home winning streak.
- The Buckeyes have just two true road games this season -- Oct. 16 at Canton, and Oct. 30 at Nevada Community.
- Gilmer has won 15 consecutive home games, dating back to the 2010 season.
Key matchup: Gilmer rushing attack vs. Tatum defensive front. While the Buckeyes still throw the ball more than most teams, Gilmer has taken a decidedly different approach in the early going in 2015. Gilmer has concentrated on running the ball with effectiveness in the first two weeks of the season. And like most years, there are plenty of weapons at the Buckeyes' disposal in the backfield. Senior Demarco Boyd, who plays almost every snap on the defensive side of the ball, gets his fair share of touches on offense, whether it be straight hand-offs or catches in the screen game. Junior Kelton Collier, another starter on defense, is also capable of toting the rock quite a bit. The player who's benefitted the most from Gilmer's run-first approach this season has been sophomore Rashaad Ward, who went for more than 100 yards in his varsity debut two weeks ago against Liberty-Eylau. Gilmer is extremely young and inexperienced in the passing game with all new starters at quarterback and receiver.
Tatum struggled with its rush defense in a 37-28 season-opening loss at Newton two weeks ago. The Eagles allowed 368 rushing yards in their Week 1 matchup, including 235 from Newton running back Jaron Hanks and 93 from senior Gabe Foster. Tatum has had a couple weeks to shore up his deficiencies against the run, and Friday night's test vs. Gilmer should provide a good challenge for the Eagles' defensive front. While junior defensive end Shay Rodgers specializes in rushing the passer, one of his primary responsibilities Friday night will be to contain the edge on running plays. And what the defensive line can't account for, Tatum's strong linebacking corps will have to keep an eye on. The trio of Da'Calen Hicks, D'Torian Smith, and Ke'Traelan Harrison will have their work cut out against a Gilmer offense that plans to establish its tempo by getting its ground game going.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is competitive into the second half. While Gilmer has started strong in both of its wins to begin the 2015 season, the Buckeyes have struggled to put away teams in the second half. Gilmer is hoping it can avoid a similar situation to last year's meeting, in which the Buckeyes held a 27-7 lead in the second quarter, only to score with less than a minute remaining to capture a 41-35 win. Tatum played Newton tough for a half, but ultimately allowed the game to get out of reach in the third quarter. If Tatum can get off to a fast start against Gilmer, the Eagles may be able to apply the pressure on the Buckeyes in the second half. Even if everything falls into place for Tatum, it will be a tough task for the Eagles to go into Gilmer and pull off the upset.