Top 25 Games Of 2016: No. 15, Center At Gilmer
It was one the better games no one expected to see the last time Gilmer and Center got together.
The Buckeyes roared out to a 27-7 lead late in the third quarter in last season's rainy, Class 4A Division II third-round playoff game the day after Thanksgiving. Then they scored on a two-point conversion out of the swinging gate formation to add insult to injury.
Then, Center quarterback Kyle Parks rose to the occasion. He converted two fourth-and-goal passes to put his squad back in it ahead of driving the team to Gilmer's 40-yard line in the game's final minutes with a chance to tie the contest.
But, in a fourth down situation a third time, the wet ball slipped from Parks hand and sailed way over an intended receiver's head. The turnover on downs set up the Buckeyes' last touchdown and a 36-21 final score.
You better believe that pass and how close Center got will be on Parks' mind when the Roughriders travel to Gilmer for a Sept. 2 showdown at Jeff Traylor Stadium. That upcoming contest checks in at No. 15 as ETSN.fm counts down the top 25 regular season games of 2016.
Gilmer went on to reach the 4A Division II state semifinals last season and could very well bring a recent record of 31-1 to the table if it gets past Liberty-Eylau in the 25th-best game of 2016. The record dates back to Week 1 of the 2014 season.
Regardless, the Buckeyes will still be in the midst of a truly golden era.
The Roughriders feel like they're closer than farther away from being a truly great team as well. Parks is back as is highly recruited receiver Octavius Evans, and another nine starters from last season's team give their community optimism this could be a big year.
A win against Gilmer certainly won't dampen expectations.
But it's not like Center has the only high-profile players.
The Buckeyes retained the services of receiver LaMarcus Morton and safety Kollin Hurt on top of 10 other returning staters from the semifinal team. Since they last met the Roughriders, Morton has committed to Oklahoma State and Hurt has pledged to Louisiana Tech.
There won't be another redo for the vast majority of currently essential players. Center got realigned to the Division I level of Class 4A in February, so the two teams can't meet in the playoffs.
This is the last chance to catch these two teams, as they are, in a head-to-head game.
Are you in or are you out?
ETSN.fm's Top 25 Games of 2016
- No. 15: Center at Gilmer
- No. 16: Atlanta at Henderson
- No. 17: Dallas Christian at Tyler Grace
- No. 18: Carthage at Liberty-Eylau
- No. 19: Longview at Lufkin
- No. 20: Harmony vs. Waskom
- No. 21: Kilgore at Henderson
- No. 22: Gilmer at Nacogdoches
- No. 23: Liberty-Eylau at Texas High
- No. 24: Crockett at Newton
- No. 25: Gilmer vs. Liberty-Eylau