The past two seasons, Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor and offensive coordinator Matt Turner proudly watched their sons pilot the Buckeyes’ vaunted offense.
This season, the reins were turned over to defensive coordinator Todd Barr’s son — and the results have been quite similar.
When Gilmer (12-1) meets Henderson (9-4) in the Class 3A Division II quarterfinals this weekend, coach Barr and junior quarterback Tanner Barr will have a lot on their shoulders.
Charged with stopping the Lions’ potent rushing attack will be coach Barr, whose defense has stepped up to the task throughout the season. And playing his 14th game at quarterback after roaming the secondary last season will be Tanner, who’s just two wins from helping guide Gilmer to another state final.
Coach Barr is proud of his son.
“I’m proud of him whether he’s playing quarterback, safety or sitting on the bench,” coach Barr said. “I’m proud of him just because he’s a great kid.”
The past two seasons, former Buckeyes Luke Turner and Jordan Traylor shared the quarterback position at times and went on to earn District 16-3A Co-MVP honors as seniors. The award came after Turner suffered a season-ending injury in district, which turned the offense over to Traylor the rest of the way.
Both graduated last spring and left the position vacant, but Tanner proved his value during the summer and switched sides of the ball. The move has benefited the Buckeyes, whose win streak increased to 11 games with last week’s 42-21 victory against Argyle in the regional round.
“For me it’s kind of different because my dad is on the defensive side of the ball,” Tanner said. “This year, being on offense, I don’t really get to talk things over with him as much during practice. But he’s there for encouragement and everything.”
Coach Barr, an offensive lineman for John Tyler during the early 1980s, said he didn’t mind handing his son over to the offense.
“He’s probably played five snaps (on defense),” coach Barr said of Tanner, who posted 10 interceptions at free safety last year. “You have to do what’s best for the team.”
On the season, Tanner has completed 196 of 327 passes for 2,409 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. The dual threat also has carried the ball 109 times for 745 yards and four touchdowns, which ranks second on the team.
“Offensively we’ve gotten so much better since our first practice,” Tanner said. “With this being my first year, I think it’s been a pretty successful year all around. I still have a lot of improvement, but we’ve grown up as a team on offense and have gotten a lot better.”
Gilmer and Henderson play at 7 p.m. Friday at Longview’s Lobo Stadium. It will be the second meeting between the teams at LHS this season; the Buckeyes downed the Lions 28-26 in district.
The winner advances to meet either Graham (12-1) or Gatesville (13-0) in the state semifinals next week. Graham and Gatesville play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Stephenville.
“Earlier in the season they gave us a great run for our money,” Tanner said of Henderson. “To face them in the fourth round of the playoffs is exciting. It will be two East Texas teams playing at Lobo. We are expecting a big crowd and a good game.”
Elsewhere in 3A, Kilgore and Carthage might be on a collision course for the Division I championship game as both will be competing in the semifinals this week. Kilgore (11-1) takes on Stephenville (11-1) at Mansfield’s Newsom Stadium, while Carthage (11-2) meets El Campo (13-0) at Beaumont’s Provost-Umphrey Stadium.
Both games are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The 3A Division I state final is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Notes: Kris Boyd leads Gilmer on the ground with 127 carries for 1,116 yards and 17 touchdowns, while receiver Chase Tate has caught a team-high 51 passes for 451 yards and three scores. On defense, the Buckeyes have been anchored by linebacker Josh Walker (105 tackles, 29 QB pressures, five sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries), defensive tackle Xavier Fluellen (94 tackles, eight QB pressures, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four sacks, 12 tackles for losses) and nose guard Demarco Boyd (65 tackles, 25 quarterback pressures, seven sacks, 16 tackles for losses), among others.