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August 28, 2006District 15-3A Preview
Predicted Order of Finish
1. Gilmer (668.5)
2. Gladewater (642)
3. Longview Spring Hill (504.5)
4. White Oak (434.5)
5. Sabine (416.5)
6. Mineola (452.5)
Players to Watch:
QB G.J. Kinne Gilmer
WR Curtis Brown Gilmer
RB DeMikel Shankle Longview Spring Hill
WR Chris Tuck Mineola
LB Dominique Buchanan Gilmer
There really isn't much drama in this district, Gilmer is head and shoulders above the field and if anyone stays within 20 points of the Buckeyes during district play it would be surprising. Gladewater with a number of key players back looks to be a solid second place team and the battle could be for third place. Spring Hill with a healthy DeMikel Shankle looks to be a threat but the White Oak Roughnecks are not to be overlooked. Mineola was bolstered by the transfer of Kansas commit WR Chris Tuck back to Mineola after he spent two seasons at Dallas Hillcrest.
Gilmer Buckeyes (10-2 in 2005 lost to Canton 61-58 in the Class 3A Area Playoffs)
Outlook: The Gilmer Buckeyes have become one of the most talked about teams in the off-season with the controversial transfer of QB G.J. Kinne from Canton to Gilmer, however overshadowed in all the talk is the fact that Gilmer very likely was to be rated as the state's number one team in all of Class 3A without Kinne. Gilmer rolled to a 16-0 record and a Division 2 state championship in 2004, but "stumbled" to a 10-2 record last year, with a literal gold mine of talent Gilmer has to be considered among the favorites to win their second title in three seasons, however if Gilmer is to win it all they'll have to do it in Division 1 as the Buckeyes are now the largest school in District 15-3A. Gilmer may have one of the top offenses in all of Class 3A and they could break Everman's Class 3A record set in 2002 of averaging 48.13 points per game. Jamell Kennedy who was the QB in 2005 will likely move over to slot receiver where he is being recruited to play by several Division 1 colleges. Kinne will slide into the QB slot where he not only can beat you with his arms but also his legs. Texas commit WR Curtis Brown is a threat to beat you receiving or running the ball on reverses as well. Gilmer also has RB Justin Johnson who is an Adrian Peterson starter-kit and is regarded as one of the top running backs in the Class of 2008 in the entire country. Gilmer currently only has nine games scheduled since Canton backed out of the East Texas Classic scheduled for Zero Week, however the Buckeyes are currently working on scheduling an out of state opponent to fill this slot. Overall with the type of talent the Buckeyes are throwing down they have the potential to be mentioned in the same breath as the 1983 Daingerfield team, the Southlake Carroll teams of the early 1990's, the Pittsburg team of 1980 and the Everman teams of 2001-2002 as the greatest 3A teams of all-time. However, with the pressure and expectations Gilmer could succumb to the pressure and become one of the most disappointing teams of all-time. It will be very interesting to see just which route the Buckeyes end up taking in 2006.
Gladewater Bears (6-5 in 2005 lost to Texarkana Liberty-Eylau 45-7 in Class 3A bi-district)
Outlook: Since posting a 12-2 record in 2001 Gladewater has failed to make it past the first round of the playoffs however the Bears have made the playoffs in 2002, 2004 and 2005. New coach Scott Callaway comes over the Gladewater from nearby Big Sandy where he enjoyed big time success and with a number of returning starters Gladewater should be very strong in 2006. The Gladewater offense should be in good hands with QB Brandon Gibbons leading the way, the Bears will have to replace a very good RB who graduated but Harris and Cooper look to be capable replacements. WR Julian Griffin has good size and speed and could evolve into a big play threat. The offensive line will be a big strength for GHS Prince, Clifton and Upchurch were all-district and Burnett is a returning starter. Overall look for Gladewater to be a better team than last year's 6-5 record, however with a tough non-district schedule it may be tough for the Bears to post a better record. The Bears open with Class 4A Longview Pine Tree which is a winnable game, then GHS has 4 tough games in a row all of which are games Gladewater will either be picked to lose or will be a toss up. Emory Rains, at Rusk, Wills Point and at Class 4A Lindale will all be difficult games for the Bears to win. Look for Gladewater to post a 1-4 record in non-district 2-3 is a possible for Gladewater, anything better than 2-3 would have to be considered a huge success for Gladewater.
Longview Spring Hill Panthers (4-6 in 2005)
Outlook: With a healthy DeMikel Shankle and a wealth of experience back Longview Spring Hill could compete to get back to the form they had between 2000 and 2004 when they posted in order 10-3, 10-2, 12-2, 9-2, and 8-4 records. Shankle who missed the majority of the season with a torn ACL is back to 100% and could continue the tradition of big time running backs from Spring Hill. The Spring Hill offense is led by its outstanding backfield of Shankle and Cody Hendricks who was second team all-district last year. Spring Hill brings back a wealth of experience on the offensive line and that will be a strength, the top threat in the passing game is WR Robby Garcia. QB Secord got some valuable seasoning as a sophomore throwing 8 touchdown passes. Spring Hill's non-district schedule opens with a tough game at now Class 4A Lindale. Spring Hill will then host Class 2A Daingerfield and that won't be an easy game as the Tigers are always tough. The Panthers then have two winnable games against Texarkana Pleasant Grove and Tyler Chapel Hill. The non-district slate concludes with a home game against Class 2A Winnsboro which is another winnable game for Spring Hill. Look for Spring Hill to post a 3-2 record in non-district and compete for a playoff spot in 2006.
White Oak Roughnecks (5-6 in 2005 lost to Canton 34-27 in Class 3A bi-district)
Outlook: After making a surprising run into the playoffs in 2005, the Roughnecks will once again have a tough road ahead in 2006 to make the playoffs as graduation took its toll. White Oak must replace all of their skill players and in a district that includes Gilmer, Gladewater and Longview Spring Hill that could mean tough times. White Oak opens the season with a winnable game against Class 2A Winnsboro but then they take on a very good 2A school in Troup. Emory Rains will look to be another difficult game for WOHS to win however the non-district slate does end up a bit less daunting as Bullard and Pleasant Grove round out the non-district slate. Look for White Oak to go 3-2 in non-district and 2-3 in district play for a 4th place finish and a 5-5 record.
Sabine Cardinals (1-9 in 2005)
Outlook: Sabine hasn't made the playoffs since 1985 and the playoff drought will likely continue in a brutal District 15-3A. The Cardinals only have one winning season in the past ten years as they posted a 6-4 record in 2002. RB Shannon Anderson is the Cardinals top threat after starting the past two years at QB. Sabine returns seven offensive starters and they should be improved.
Mineola Yellow Jackets (2-8 in 2005)
Outlook: Mineola was bolstered big time this summer when WR Chris Tuck transferred back to East Texas. Tuck who has already committed to Kansas has great size and is also a big play threat. MHS will have to find a running back if they want to get their first playoff berth since 2001.
Game to Watch
October 20 Longview Spring Hill at Gladewater: This matchup won't be for the district title but it is very important as it will be huge for playoff seeding since Gilmer will be the Division 1 team. Last year when these two played it was all Gladewater as the Bears beat up on the Panthers to the tune of 34-0.