Gilmer didnâ€™t allow youth to stand in the way. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Having suffered from the graduation bug, the Buckeyes plugged in new faces and ventured all the way to the state final. Some people classify such seasons as reloading. Others call them products of great coaching.
Gilmerâ€™s Jeff Traylor is the Co-Coach of the Year on the All-East Texas Football Team. He shares the award with John Tyler first-year coach Ricklan Holmes.
Gilmer, which returned only two starters on offense, finished the season with a 14-2 record and as the Class 3A Division II state runner-up. The defensively established Buckeyes â€” returned seven starters on that side â€” fell 39-3 to Navasota in the title game, but the season had already been considering a success.
It included the District 16-3A title, a 13-game winning streak and the fourth state finals appearance in eight years. The Buckeyes, who made a habit of comebacks, beat Henderson twice and knocked Kilgore from the unbeaten ranks in the regular-season finale â€” then got revenge against Argyle, which eliminated them from the 2011 postseason.
â€śIt was as enjoyable season as Iâ€™ve ever had as far as the improvement of the team weekly,â€ť Traylor said. â€śWe just kept finding a way to win the game early and ended up being pretty good late. It was a lot of fun because we were young and inexperienced.â€ť
Traylor, who returned to his native Gilmer in 2000 after serving as offensive coordinator at Jacksonville, has a 148 and 24 record as GHS head coach. He led the Buckeyes to their first state title in 2004 (16-0 record), plus to another state final in â€™07 (14-1) and their second state title in â€™09 (15-0).
With first-year quarterback Tanner Barr piloting the attack, the Buckeyes finished the regular-season with the areaâ€™s sixth-best offense among 3A-1A-TAPPS teams. They averaged 424 yards a game in balanced fashion, totaling 2,345 yards on the ground and 1,897 yards on the ground.
Next season, the Buckeyes are expected to return an estimated seven starters on offense and six on defense and will have high expectations once again.
â€śWeâ€™re really excited because weâ€™ve got so many of them coming back,â€ť Traylor said. â€śThere were 26 seniors on that team, so there were some pretty good players. But we have the core of the team back.â€ť