The Bucks, just a week after exiting in the quarterfinals at Buckeye Stadium, surprised everyone at ETBU’s Ornelas Stadium last Saturday by beating the odds and knocking down two powerful powerhouse football giants in the Semi-Finals and the Finals. Gilmer bested Shreveport Evangel Christian 38-30 by bouncing back from a 14-22 halftime deficit in the semi-final game, and then came back from a 26-33 halftime deficit to trounce the Longview Lobos 54-33 in the finals to claim the Championship.
Gilmer trailed at one point or another in five of the six games they played on the day, but went a perfect 6-0 to claim the title. In their first game at 8:30 am, they defeated the Lindale Eagles 34-26. They were down 7-13 before tying the game 13-13 at the half. They went up 20-13 and never trailed again
In the second game at 9:30 am, they played the Elysian Fields Yellowjackets. The Bux fell behind 14-21 and then came back to tie the contest at 21-21, and followed with two more unanswered scores, galloping out to a 35-21 lead. The ‘Jackets came back to within 8, at 35-27, but they would get no closer. Gilmer let the horses out of the gate and the orange and black cruised to a 56-33 victory.
In their third and final game of pool play at 10:30 am, the Buckeyes found themselves down 13-19 to the Marshall Mavericks, but scored 13 unanswered points to take a 26-19 lead. They never trailed again, though Marshall did get back to within 1, at 26-25. Gilmer went up 33-25, and scored again to go up 40-25, and appeared to have the game on ice, but to Marshall’s credit, they never gave up. They scored two unanswered TD’s, but missed their extra point conversions, and the Bucks prevailed, 40-37.
With the perfect 3-0 pool sweep, the Buckeyes nailed down the #2 seed behind the Longview Lobos.
In their Quarterfinal matchup at 12:30 pm, Gilmer faced perennial foe Daingerfield, and never trailed the entire game. They led 13-0 before the Tigers found the end zone, closing the gap to 13-8. The teams traded TD’s, and Gilmer led 19-14. The Black Flag “D” didn’t allow another score, and the Bucks won 40-14, earning their spot in the semis against Evangel.
In the 1:30 pm game, Evangel scored first and went for 2 and took an 8-0 lead. Gilmer closed the gap to 7-8 before Evangel found pay dirt again and led 14-7 after a failed 2-point conversion attempt. Gilmer tied the score at 14-14, but found themselves trailing 14-22 at the half.
The Bucks came out strong in their first possession of the second half and made a 2-point conversion, tying the game at 22-22. The Bux had a chance to take the lead after a Devin Smith pick, but Gilmer returned the favor when Evangel got a pick of their own. They cashed in and converted a 2-point conversion and went up 30-22 with under ten minutes remaining in the game.
The never-say-die Buckeye offense buckled down and scored two more times and made 2-point conversions each time, while the Black Flag refused to give up another score, and Gilmer moved on to the finals against Longview, a 19-12 winner over Henderson in the other semi-final game, with the 38-30 victory.
It was fitting that the Championship game pitted #l Longview against #2 Gilmer. The Lobos led 7-0, and never allowed the Bucks to get any closer than 26-28 in the first half. They scored near the end of the half and Gilmer trailed 26-33 at the half.
Knowing they were going to have to dig deeper if they wanted to claim the Championship, the Bucks clicked on offense and played shut-down “D” the second half. They scored 28 unanswered points and flew to a 54-33 victory to claim the Title.
We asked Buckeye 7on7 Coach Rebel Jackson his thoughts on the HUGE Championship win.
“Other than winning it and playing as long as we did today, I think what I’m more proud of other than winning the whole thing, is how many kids started out on our JV team today and because of attrition and cramps and people going down, the same kids who were playing JV were stepping up and making plays for us later on in the day, so I’m really proud of that. We’ve talked about it before, how our young kids are really stepping up and playing. Our seniors stepped up and made big plays today, but so did our young kids and we have a lot of young kids, who were thrown in the fire, but I saw us grow up a lot today, and that was exciting.”
We asked Coach Jackson what he attributed the major turnaround in just one week to. “I think it’s a lot of pride. We had our athletic banquet last night, and the kids were out late, and you know, you get here at 8:30, and for us it’s really about focus. I like our team and I think when we’re focused and we’re locked in and we want to play, we’re as good as anybody else that we’re going to play, but as you saw, we gave up 33 points to Longview in the first half and our kids maybe believing that was the best effort we had, and something clicked at halftime and we realized we worked too hard to get to this point and they never scored a point the second half.”
“We were in dog fights all day. We were either behind or almost tied in every game we played today at halftime. I thought McLane (Carter) played outstanding today, but we had 10-12 kids make plays for him, so that’s what I was excited about.”
What made the Championship win even more incredible and exciting was the fact that Gilmer lost several players through the course of the day to injuries and cramps. We asked the Coach what it says about this team to be able to run young kids in and have them make the plays they have to make to provide a victory.
“You know, it’s just the ‘next man up’. The last game we didn’t have Quinn (Fluellen), we didn’t have Cameron Bowman, we didn’t have Devin Smith. Those are three starters. We had Blevin (Burns) playing safety; he hadn’t played safety since last year. We’ve got LaMarcus Martin, a freshman, playing on one of their best players, Kollin Lane (Hurt) went down with cramps; we had to put Brandon Crouch and those guys in, so it’s a testament to each kid stepping up and making plays, but they work so hard during the week and they are so prepared, when they get thrown in the fire, you know, they’re prepared for it, and it showed today, so I couldn’t be prouder. Again, I saw us grow up a lot today and saw that team chemistry get even better.”
Pine Tree is scheduled to come to Gilmer this coming Tuesday, May 27th for 7th, 8th, JV and Varsity games, but in the event that inclement weather, which is forecast for Tuesday does indeed cause the games to be cancelled, the games will NOT be made up later in the week. The games will begin at 4:15 p.m., weather permitting.
UPDATE: Although weather has delayed them, the games with Pine Tree have NOT been cancelled, after all, and will be played in Gilmer on Wednesday, June 4, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The Buckeyes will be open this Saturday, May 31st. and will not play again until Saturday, June 7th, when they go to Commerce to play in the SQT at A & M Commerce. They will then return to Buckeye Stadium on Saturday, June 14th to host their own SQT before hopefully heading to College Station to play in the 7on7 State Tournament.