Their next opponent, Prestonwood Christian Academy of Plano, had just methodically demolished their fellow District of Doom member in a meeting of rural versus suburban Lions.
Prestonwood’s 56-21 dismantling of our neighbors to the south, who won state in Class 3A Division I in 2010 and made it to the semifinals last year, served notice that the upcoming game will be as stiff a challenge as the Buckeyes have faced since last year’s Region II title game in Corsicana against Argyle.
The Buckeyes will be going into the “Lions’ den” in Plano and the visitors’ side seating is not much larger than some dens. However, Prestonwood officials have assured Gilmer that up to 3,000 Buckeye fans can be accommodated Friday night because the academy has made a decision to allow Gilmer partisans to sit on either side. The Buckeye Band and Stars will have seats on the track.
The Buckeyes always draw from their crowd, so any Gilmer fans who live anywhere near Plano are encouraged to come out and support the team. Obviously, it will be difficult for some in this area to get off work early enough to drive to Plano on Friday afternoon.
Coach Jeff Traylor was pleased with the opening game win. There is always room for improvement, of course, and the Buckeyes will be using their next three games to get ready for the District 16-3A opener in Gladewater against the Bears on Sept. 28.
“Defensively, Justus Cheatham had five tackles and one interception. Brandon Barnes had five tackles, five assists. Xavier Fluellen and Demarco Boyd gave great effort on the defensive line,” Traylor commented about the Atlanta win.
“Offensively, (quarterback) Tanner Barr was 16-of-22 for 244 yards and three touchdowns; had seven carries for 59 yards. He also punted the ball very well. He had two punts and his average punt was 48 yards. DeVondrick Dixon had two catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns; Pat Finch, three catches for 45 yards, one touchdown; Kris Boyd had eight carries for 69 yards; Josh Walker, five carries, 41 yards and a touchdown.”
One thing the Rabbits seemed to know was coming was whenever Chase Tate took the snap as quarterback. “We didn’t block very well the whole night,” lamented the Gilmer mentor. “A lot of that has to do with Atlanta because they’re really good.”
Turning to Prestonwood, he said, “They have a phenomenal football team. They’re extremely talented. First, their quarterback, Mickey Mitchell, is the No. 1 recruit in basketball in the country for a sophomore. He’s 6’ 7”, 215, a lefty. He’s just an amazing athlete. Henderson never stopped him.”
“They have a tight end named Christian Morgan who is 6’ 6”, 260, who is going to Florida State.
“At running back is a Division I recruit, Grayson Warren, who is 6’ 1”, 195.”
Michael Irvin (6’ 2”, 195) is a freshman starting at wide receiver wearing No. 88 for PCA. Yes, he is the son of the former Dallas Cowboys NFL Hall of Famer of the same name and number.
JR Reed is the son of former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jake Reed. He wears No. 20 and plays receiver and cornerback for the Lions.
Traylor added. “They have the No. 1-ranked linebacker in the country, Michael (Mike) Mitchell (6’ 4”, 230).” He is a senior.
Mitchell’s 40-yard dash time of 4.39 seconds, coupled with his performances in the vertical jump, the agility shuttle and the kneeling power ball toss, gave him a score of 154.47, which earned him the SPARQ Rating National Championship at a nationally-televised event called The Opening held at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in July.
The two Mitchells are brothers. They are sons of former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Ken Mitchell. They played for a public school, Plano West, last season.
“Not that long ago the boys were being interviewed and they said they were trying to make up for the fact that I wasn’t any good in the NFL,” their father told the Plano Star-Courier with a chuckle. “I think they are right.”
The SPARQ champion has now received 3,000 letters and 51 scholarship offers during his high school career, but hasn’t committed yet to a school.
Other players to watch are Zach Missimo, Austin Tankersley and Corey Meador.
The Lions compete in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). Thus, the term “recruiting” doesn’t have the same negative connotation as it does for members of the University Interscholastic League. Almost needless to say, very few public high schools with enrollments as small as Prestonwood’s could legally assemble this much talent on a football team.
The only teams from small public schools in this area which might have done so in recent years would be some of the championship teams fielded by Tatum and Daingerfield.
One advantage the Buckeyes may have is that most of them have been playing together as a team ever since boyhood days, a cohesiveness that is hard to imagine in a place with a more transient population such as Collin County.
Although he lamented “we’re in way over our head,” Coach Traylor and his Buckeyes always love a challenge like this. He said in watching the Prestonwood-Henderson game, he didn’t believe Henderson was “down” this year. They’re as good as ever, in his view. They just haven’t settled on a quarterback yet.
“When (Henderson) finds a quarterback, they’re going to be hard to beat. Whenever you go into Henderson and embarrass Henderson, you’re something special. Prestonwood’s just that good.”
Prestonwood Christian Academy is a ministry of Prestonwood Baptist Church, which has more than 31,000 members. To turn the tables on the Biblical analogy, though, it would be more appropriate, given Prestonwood’s mascot and the location of the game, to consider the Buckeyes as being in the role of the Old Testament prophet Daniel in Friday night’s scenario.
“We’re excited. They’re pretty loaded. But we’ve got a good football team, too. So we’ll go over there and get after them and see what happens. It’s good for us. These are the kinds of teams you need to play,” Coach Traylor concluded.
Sept. 7 - @Plano Prestonwood
District: TAPPS 1-5A
2011 Record: 9-3, 5-1 district, TAPPS Division I Semifinalist
Last meeting: This is the first meeting of the schools
Head Coach: Chris Cunningham (6th season)
Returning Starters: 4 Offense/5 Defense
Did you know? Prestonwood Christian Academy’s Upper School opened in 2001 and has won TAPPS state championships in 2005, 2009 and 2010.
MAP AND DIRECTIONS:
A Google map with directions to Lions Stadium in Plano is online at GilmerMirror.com.
BUCKEYE TICKET LINE:
903-841-7777 — Advance tickets are on sale through Thursday at the Gilmer ISD Administration Building. They are $6 each for adults and $4 for students. Sale hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
LUNCH WITH THE COACH:
Noon Today, Buckeyes Booster Club meets at Gilmer Country Club.
PUBLIC VS PRIVATE:
The last time the Buckeyes played a private school was in 2006 when they defeated Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, 56-14, in Tyler.
Plano’s population was 269,776 at the 2010 census, making it the ninth most populous city in Texas. Gilmer’s population in 2010 was 4,905.
Plano, back when it had only one public high school, went to nine state championship games and won seven of them between 1965 and 1994.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Jamell Kennedy, Buckeyes starting quarterback in 2005 who switched to wide receiver in 2006, is a graduate of SMU and is now working on his masters degree in petroleum engineering.
Kevin Hollis, a member of the 2004 state championship team, is a graduate of Kansas State and works for AT&T, according to his Facebook page.
Etex, Channel 2, will replay Gilmer games at 10 a.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Wednesdays.
(This channel also carries the audio of the games live.)
New Diana games will be replayed 2 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Thursdays
Harmony games will be replayed 6 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Tuesdays.
GILMER BUCKEYES HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL APP:
TheOldCoach.com - The Old Coach State Rankings: Week One: