Friday night, Nov. 21
When Gilmer safety Paul Chesnut learned that the Buckeyes would face Mexia in round two of the playoffs, he proclaimed, “I don't even know how to pronounce their name.”
Chesnut meant no slight, it was just an understandable consequence of the Buckeyes move into Region III this season, as Gilmer prepares for another team that they've never played before.
“It's fun because you really don't know much about them, or have any idea where they're from, so it's always fun,” said Chesnut.
Mexia, (pronounced muh-HAY-uh) coach Les Wiginton said that lack of knowledge is the same for his players. “Before this week, if we had asked our kids what Gilmer did on offense or defense, they certainly would have had no clue,” said Wiginton. “If we had asked them to tell us one of their player's names, they would have had no clue.”
Now both teams are trying to learn as much as possible about each other as they prepare for Friday night's Class 3A Region III Area contest at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Both teams feel that the lack of knowledge benefits them.
“I would imagine that if we were within 30 miles of Gilmer the kids would probably be a little intimidated by the success they've had, but we're not quite that aware of it,” said Wiginton, who is in his first season as head coach of the Blackcats.
“It's different because we haven't played them, so it gives us a little more intensity,” said Gilmer linebacker Mikey Wilson.
Buckeyes' head coach Jeff Traylor has watched enough video of the Blackcats to proclaim, “They're a very good offensive team. They execute offensively as good as any team we've played against.”
The Wildcats (8-3) average 339 total yards and 32 points per game. “It starts with their quarterback Trae Davis (5-10, 195 4.7),” Traylor said. “He can throw it and he can run it.” The junior quarterback has thrown for 1,691 yards and 14 touchdowns for the season, and has run for another 532 yards and 6 touchdowns.
“Their tailback Doug Gentry has a lot of yards and is a great athlete,” Traylor continued. Gentry (5-11, 190 4.7) has rushed for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns this year as a sophomore.
“Their coach does a good job and knows what he's doing. They keep the ball, and they have big plays too. They can beat you quick; they can beat you slow. They throw it, they screen you, they move the quarterback around. We're about a spitting image of each other on offense,” said Traylor.
Wiginton said that the Blackcats' offense has been the strength of the team this season. “We feel like we can throw it if need be, and run it if need be as well. We try to be a balanced offense; that's what our goal is.”
The Blackcats’ ability to score will be key in this matchup according to Wiginton and Traylor.
“We're going to have to score because I think it would be tough to think that you're going to keep them down in the twenties. I just think they are that explosive offensively,” said Wiginton.
“Somehow we've got to stop them. It's going to be tough because whenever you can run and pass it's always tough,” said Traylor, who knows a few things about offensive football, as the Buckeyes average 473 yards and 46 points per game.
“If you're going to beat Gilmer, you'd better plan on an offensive shootout,” Wiginton said.
Traylor hopes his defense is up to the challenge. “Our defense has to play like they have all year,” said Traylor. “This is the best offense they've gone against.”
Wiginton expects a tough battle for his offense. “Defensively I think they have some great athletes, and they have a very good scheme. The kids are very disciplined, and play great ball,” Wiginton said about a Buckeyes defense that allows only 255 yards and 14 points per game.
The Mexia coach thinks it will take a special effort from his team to slow down the Buckeyes' offense. “Offensively, I think they execute very well. They don't make mistakes to beat themselves,” Wiginton said. “I think we're going to have to play a really smart football game. The kids are going to have to play the best game they've played this year. I think if we can create some turnovers and have some breaks go our way, it could be a good ball game.”
Traylor noted that the Blackcats' defense allows just 31 total yards per game more than the Buckeyes. “Defensively, they are very athletic. They run to the ball well,” said Traylor.
Linebackers Lance Bell (5-11, 185) and Courtney Bailey (5-10, 190) lead the Blackcats in tackles with 90 and 76 respectively in Mexia's 5-2 defensive scheme.
Buckeyes' junior quarterback Stump Godfrey, who will be starting in his 7th playoff game, knows that every team is good this late in the season, even if you can't pronounce their name. “We know we've got to play great; every possession counts. We've just got to get better every week,” Godfrey said.
Gilmer senior offensive lineman Dakota Hagler echoed his quarterback's sentiments. “The further you go, the harder it's going to get. We've just got to keep practicing and get better,” said Hagler.
“They understand that you just have to find a way to stay alive,” said Traylor about Godfrey and Hagler.
Mexia's Wiginton said staying alive is what the Blackcats are planning on, despite their underdog status in this game. “Crazy things happen in this game,” said Wiginton. “We know on paper that Gilmer should beat us, we also know on paper that USC should be undefeated this year. There's a lot of things that should happen on paper, but the game is played for a reason. We're preparing like we're going to win the game and we're going to show up with plans of winning the game.”
Traylor believes that every week that his Buckeyes survive, increases their odds of winning the school's second state title. “We play so many kids, that we are getting better each week,” explained Traylor. “It just takes us a while to get clicking. I think we will continue to get better each week. The longer we can stay alive, the better chance we've got.”
• Mexia achieved the school's 500th all-time win with a victory over Groesbeck the final week of the regular season.
• Gilmer quarterback Stump Godfrey needs 29 total yards to pass Manuel Johnson for most in school history.
• Gilmer quarterback Stump Godfrey needs 323 total yards to reach 7,000 for his career.
• Gilmer running back Jeremy Jackson needs 229 rushing yards to reach 1,000 on the season.
• Gilmer's defense has allowed less than 200 total yards in three consecutive games, and less than 300 total yards in 10 straight games.
Bounty Hunter of the Week: Kickoff Team
Special Teams Player of the Week: Adan Olivares
Offensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Gavin Holt
Defensive Scout Team Player of the Week: Darian Pollard
firstname.lastname@example.org Buckeyes at a glance: Friday, Nov. 21 Gilmer Buckeyes Vs. Mexia Blackcats Gilmer Buckeyes GilmerBuckeyes.com