The last time Highway 271 rivals Gilmer and Gladewater met, an epic playoff game before an overflow crowd at Longview's Lobo Stadium ensued.

And while the stakes won't be quite as high this time around, fireworks should fly when the Buckeyes and Bears renew acquaintances on Oct. 14 in District 7-4A Division II action.

It checks in at No. 5 on's list of the top 25 games of 2016.

Gladewater is coming off a disappointing 5-6 season that was mired by injuries to key players. The Bears are hopeful that with 16 returning starters (eight offensive, eight defensive) they can erase what transpired a year ago.

Gladewater WR/DB Austin Hawley. (Rob Graham,
Gladewater WR/DB Austin Hawley. (Rob Graham,

Senior running back Darnell McKnight is one of the best pure runners in all of East Texas, and he'll be running behind a seasoned offensive line. Cameron Callaway Jr. is a speedster capable of stretching opposing defenses.

On defense, Gladewater should be strong, especially in the back end with the return of senior Austin Hawley and junior Isaiah Davis.

Gilmer has won 31 of its last 32 games, and once again is a favorite to reach the state championship round.

The Buckeyes bring back 12 starters, including one of the area's top overall recruits in receiver LaMarcus Morton, an Oklahoma State commit. Gilmer also brings back versatile running back Kelton Collier to help the ease the burden on new starting quarterback Brett Rice.

Defensively, Gilmer graduated Texas signee Demarco Boyd, but does welcome back safety Kollin Hurt (Louisiana Tech commit), who led all of East Texas in interceptions in 2015 with 11.’s Top 25 Games of 2016

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