Pleasant Grove coach Josh Gibson can hardly believe Gilmer hasn’t lost a district football game at home in 17 years. That’s the challenge Pleasant Grove (5-0) faces Friday at Gilmer (4-1) in both teams’ District 7-4A opener at Jeff Traylor Stadium.
“Since Traylor took over at Gilmer, he established that program as one of the two or three premier programs in Texas,” Gibson said. “Carthage has done it, too. I don’t know if anyone has done better than those two. This is definitely an opportunity to get more credibility statewide with a win.”
Despite the fact Gilmer is ranked one spot ahead of Pleasant Grove in at least two polls, the Harris Ratings have the Hawks a 3-point favorite.
“Gilmer has lost two home games in the last ten years,” Gibson said. “We’ve already gained some respect from playing great programs like Arkansas High, Paris and Liberty-Eylau. Our kids are hungry, and that’s the cool thing about them. They want to go play these type of games. Friday can’t get here fast enough for them.
Pleasant Grove kids, coaches are fired up for Gilmer
“The kids and coaches are fired up for the game. When you have this type of matchup, both teams are going to have a chance to win. Usually, it’s the team with the least amount of miscues. That’s taking into account turnovers and penalties. The team not playing clean, disciplined football is probably going to end up on the bottom of the scoreboard.”
Traditionally, it takes a lot of points to beat the Buckeyes. Gibson agree that it could, but counters that it might not be a shootout.
“We’ve just got to score more than they do,” he said. “We think we have one of the best defenses in the state, and we’re scoring 46 points per game offensively. A lot of times we can dictate tempo, too. Gilmer plays really fast on offense. We can slow it down, or go at a snail’s pace. We have to go out and play our brand of ball, and play within ourselves.”
Pleasant Grove not alone in having big game Friday
In Northeast Texas, Texas High is a 20-point favorite at Sulphur Springs. Both teams are looking for their first win in District 16-5A.
Pre-season favorites Paris and Liberty-Eylau clash at Harris Field, the Wildcats being a 3-point pick according to Harris Ratings.
Redwater is a 15-point pick at Sabine in a District 8-3A opener. New Boston faces a big challenge at Jefferson, where the unbeaten Bulldogs are a 48-point choice.
The 7-3A, Division II title might be decided at Daingerfield when DeKalb and star running back Jaquan Jackson come calling. The host Tigers are a 21-point favorite. Hooks treks to Ore City, the Hornets a 5-point pick. Queen City is looking at an uphill climb at New Diana, a 38-point favorite.
Unbeaten Linden-Kildare is a 25-point pick over Honey Grove. Wolfe City is also 5-0, and a 37-point favorite at James Bowie. Maud is a 12-point selection at home against Cumby.
Southwest Arkansas action has Arkansas High a 17-point pick over winless Sheridan.
In 5A play, Camden Fairview is a 3-point choice at De Queen. Hot Springs Lakeside is a 25-point selection at home against Hope.
The big showdown in 4A has unbeaten Ashdown on the road against Nashville, a 2-point underdog.
One of Hooten’s top games features top-ranked Prescott at Glen Rose, where the Curley Wolves are a 12-point favorite. Horatio is a 3-point pick over Bismarck. Genoa Central hopes to continue its dominance against Drew Central, a 3-point underdog. It could be make, or break for Fouke at home against McGehee, a 7-point favorite.
Defending state champion Mount Ida has unbeaten Foreman at home, the Gators a 2-point underdog.