Congratulations to Gilmer Freshman Quarterback Will Kiker on being named our player of the week for his efforts in their victory over LaFayette. With Quarterbacks Spenser Smith and Seth Darling out due to injury, Kiker stepped in and ran the offense. It was his first career start.
LaFayette, GA — First a bit of housekeeping. This is part of a three-part series to wrap up the season. So I will keep the commentary light on this one. Be on the lookout tomorrow for my thoughts on the season. Then the final post Tuesday for a look ahead to next year, featuring comments from Head Coach Kevin Saunders.
Now, on to the game. The Cats made the long trip to LaFayette Friday night to close out the season. The Ramblers of LaFayette entered Senior Night on a four game losing streak, having lost a heartbreaker to Pickens last week. Like Gilmer, they were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Despite those circumstances, and the near freezing temperatures, the atmosphere inside the building was lively. Maybe it was the vehicle on the LaFayette sideline shooting flames up in the air like a pro wrestling match.
Gilmer was missing three of their key two-way players in QB/DB Spenser Smith, QB/DB/P Seth Darling, and LB/TE Kyle Allison. This forced younger players to step in and role players to step up. The first drive for LaFayette after taking the opening kickoff proved they were all up to the task. They forced a quick three and out.
The Cats then struck quickly with the ground game. Freshman QB Will Kiker made his debut under center. On Monday’s edition of Gilmer Turf Talk, Saunders indicated full confidence in Kiker’s ability to manage the offense without having to do too much. The first drive was a perfect way for him to get acquainted. A big Kobe Stonecipher run set up his early TD. Adolfo Bautista’s PAT made it 7-0 Gilmer barely three minutes into the game.
Sophomore Quarterback Jaylon Ramsey led the Ramblers spread option running attack. Lafayette’s offense responded to the Gilmer score by putting together a drive lasting the rest of the first quarter. It included a couple big Ramsey runs. They capped it off with a Ramsey run from inside the five yard line to even the game at 7.
The Bobcat offense was then forced to punt on the ensuing drive. Junior RB/DL Ashton White was pressed into action in Darling’s absence. Lafayette got the ball back and looked to be moving the ball, but they fumbled it away to the Cats defense. LaFayette fumbles would become a major theme of the night.
Gilmer’s offense could do nothing with the favorable field position. After picking up a couple of first downs they went for it on 4th and short with no luck. The Ramblers took the ball back and began rambling right back down the field. Ramsey had another long run to get into Bobcat territory. On the following play Ramsey rolled right looking to take off again, the ball slipped out and into the hands of Bobcat Junior DB Kanaan Walker. Perhaps the fastest player on the team, Walker took the loose ball and ran it down the sideline untouched for a 55 yard defensive touchdown. Bautista’s PAT made it 14-7 Gilmer with only a few minutes left in the half.
You would have never known Ramsey had just fumbled away a touchdown. He led the Ramblers right back down the field. Ideal clock management allowed them to score on another Ramsey run to tie the game with just 6 seconds left. 14-14 at the break.
The undermanned Bobcat offense were forced to punt on their first drive of the second half. In return, LaFayette drove it down inside the Gilmer 10 yard line. The Bobcat defense responded with one of their most impressive stands of the season, forcing a field goal attempt. It was good and LaFayette led 17-14.
The lead was short lived. Gray McClure busted through the defense for a 58 yard touchdown run to put the Cats back on top with 4:51 left in the third quarter. Adolfo Bautista remained perfect on the night to make it 21-17.
Ramsey led the Ramblers back out looking to respond. Despite breaking a couple of big plays, both were called back due to penalty. They were forced to punt. Gilmer then ran a double reverse pass from McClure, who pitched to Junior Braden Jenkins, who then threw it down field to Kobe Stonecipher. A few plays later the Cats offense was inside the five yard line as the clock expired on the third quarter.
The Cats took their time to start the 4th despite being inside the 5 yard line. Stonecipher ran it in from the 2 for his second touchdown of the game. Then, in what can only be described as the highest extra point kick in football history, Bautista knocked it through to make it 28-17 with 10:50 to go.
The Gilmer defense buckled down once again. They allowed LaFayette to get down the field slowly, taking all the time they needed. The Ramblers then lost Ramsey to injury. They were forced to put Senior WR Chase Keith in the game. Although clearly not the primary QB, Keith brought a sense of stability to the drive. The shotgun spread was condensed to a Wing-T look. Junior Jamario Clements ran it into the end zone from three yards out, with just 5:56 left in the game. The two point conversion attempt was stopped to keep the score 28-23.
Looking to put the game away, Kiker and the Gilmer offense went back on the attack. They forced LaFayette to use the rest of their timeouts but had to punt it away with under a minute left.
Then things got interesting. Wearing number 28, Chase Keith lined up at Quarterback looking to take four shots at the end zone from midfield. He nearly connected on the first play, but he over threw a wide open receiver streaking down the sideline. After that, the Gilmer defense kept the Rambler pass catchers in front of them. They stopped the next three plays for no gain.
Fittingly, the Freshman QB was able to take the knee and seal the Bobcat victory. It was a big win to cap off a turnaround season for Gilmer. After the game Head Coach Kevin Saunders had a special moment with his team, thanking them for their effort. Then he met with the emotional Seniors, who walked off the field for the final time as winners.
Tunnel Hill, GA — The rain Friday night at Northwest Whitfield High School came in just about every possible way, shape, and form. There was the steady mist, the straight downpour, the wind aided sideways rain, and of course, at times it seemed as if the rain was coming up from the ground. Needless to say, it created the toughest of conditions to play football. To stay with the theme, Gilmer certainly could have used Forrest Gump last night. However, even the All-American turned war hero would have had trouble on this field.
Gilmer kicked off to the Bruins to start the game and forced a punt. Pinned deep in their own territory, the Cats were unable to get anything going. The ensuing punt gave Northwest a short field. They took advantage of it by scoring on a Gavin Ellis run up the middle from the 2 yard line. The PAT was no good.
We could stop it here. It was 6-0 with 2:21 left in the first quarter and it stayed that way. The rest of the game was filled with stalled drives, punts, and lots of defense from both teams. Given the conditions, neither team felt comfortable throwing the ball. Thus, a constant running clock from all the running plays made the game fly.
It turned into a chess match of field position. Both teams started deep in their own territory most of the night and were able to gain just enough to flip field position.
Gilmer’s best drive of the night came late in the second quarter. They moved the ball down to the Northwest 27 yard line. Facing a 4th and short, Gilmer decided to go for the first down. Northwest stopped the run to turn the ball over on downs. Spenser Smith then intercepted Freshman QB Owen Brooker on the ensuing drive to put the Cats in excellent field position. Unfortunately, only 5 seconds remained on the clock.
Each team continued to trade possessions in the second the half, though neither could get very far. Gilmer got inside of Bruin territory twice in the third but were forced to punt when the drive stalled. But the defense kept coming through, making big plays. They stopped Northwest on 4th down from the Cats 34 yard line with 7 minutes left, but it came at a cost. Starting QB/FS Spenser Smith was lost to a foot injury. After the game, Head Coach Kevin Saunders said he expects Smith to miss the rest of the season. Sophomore Seth Darling was pressed into service under center for the rest of the game.
The Bobcats took a shot on the second play of the drive. A well thrown ball by Darling to Braden Jenkins fell just short down the right sideline. Despite the dwindling clock, the decision was made to punt the ball away.
The Gilmer defense buckled down yet again to get one more chance with less than a minute remaining.
The last drive was bizarre. Darling found Kobe Stonecipher over the middle for a big gain across midfield. Inexplicably, the officials neglected to blow the whistle to signify the resumption of the clock. This left Darling under center, waiting for the whistle so he could take the snap and spike the ball. Almost 10 seconds had run off before Darling realized the whistle was never coming. Another 15 seconds ran off when the spike was not ruled an incomplete pass. The result of the chaos was 15 seconds on the clock with 50 yards to go. Darling was forced to throw it up for grabs. It was intercepted by Matt Redmond to seal the Bruin victory.
Afterward, Head Coach Kevin Saunders said “we had our chances, we just did not block very well… the offensive line just got whipped, there’s no other way to say it.”
Saunders also commended the defensive effort. But he was right, Gilmer had their chances. Earlier in the season it was exciting to be in these games late with a chance to win. However, when enough of them go the other way it becomes rather frustrating. The playoff hopes aren’t quite over, although the Cats will need to win out and get lots of help from others in the region. Yet, these remaining games still matter. Crazy things happen. They’re still alive to keep playing beyond October.
The Gilmer Bobcats (3-5, 1-3) will host Ridgeland (4-4, 3-1) on Senior Night next Friday. Ridgeland defeated Pickens 41-28 in their last game.
ELLIJAY, GA — No matter the end result of the 2019 season for the Gilmer Bobcats, one thing is for sure. This has been an entertaining team to watch. Often outmatched, almost every game surprisingly close, yet here we are with three games left still talking about playoff possibilities. Friday night was another example their grit. Although they lost to the Heritage Generals 35-22, the score was not quite indicative of the game.
Gilmer Head Coach Kevin Saunders perhaps said it best following the game when asked what happened he simply said “they [Heritage] got off the bus.”
Saunders was eluding to the fact that Heritage is quite the gifted team. They’re laden with upperclassmen, several of whom will play at the next level. On Offense, they run a well rehearsed “Air Raid” system complete with adequate skill players, a standout offensive line, and a quarterback equipped with the tools to execute. It was one of those instances where old cliche of “this team won it in warmups” could have applied. But after watching this Gilmer team through seven games we knew that wasn’t going to happen.
That’s not to say it didn’t seem like we were headed for a blowout early. After forcing Heritage into an early 3rd and long on the opening drive, Quarterback Nick Hanson turned a broken play into a 58 yard touchdown. After muffing the snap, Hanson picked up the ball and frantically rolled to his right. He threw it up for grabs. Somehow it was caught by Cade Kiniry, who proceeded to run another 30 yards for the early score. The PAT made it 7-0.
After the quick Gilmer three-and-out the Generals offense went back to work. A combination of quick screens and runs moved them down the field. Senior Gabe Ogle then broke a 25 yard touchdown rush. The two point conversion made it 15-0.
After another failed Gilmer drive, Heritage gained possession looking to add to their first quarter lead. Then momentum began to change. On 4th down inside their own territory, Heritage took another Special Teams gamble with a fake punt attempt. It was unsuccessful.
Gilmer took over on downs. Kobe Stonecipher had the first of his big third down runs for 15 yards. Spenser Smith connected with Gray McClure to put the ball inside the Generals five yard line. Smith’s run up the middle got the Bobcats on the board. Adolfo Bautista’s PAT made it 15-7.
The subsequent kickoff from Bautista bounced around in no-mans land long enough for the Bobcats to recover it deep inside Generals territory. They were in prime position to tie the game and run enough clock to get it to halftime. Unfortunately, a rushed throw from Smith was intercepted by Freshman Safety Kaden Swope and returned to the Heritage 21 yard line. The Generals quickly moved the ball down field, in a drive that culminated in a 25 yard hook up from Hanson to Logan Lowe. The PAT made it 22-7.
After a touchback Gilmer tried to put together a drive to close out the half. Deep inside their own ten yard line on third and forever, Stonecipher broke a 52 yard run to get the ball to the Generals 30 yard line. It looked as if they’d turn it into points, but a failed 4th down attempt left the score 22-7 at the break.
After an extended halftime due to Homecoming festivities, both teams traded three and outs. On their second possession, the Bobcats put together a long sustained drive that has defined their offensive success throughout the season. It was highlighted by several Stonecipher runs, including more third down conversions via the ground and one that went for 30 yards. It ended with a Stonecipher touchdown. Smith ran in the two point conversion to bring the Cats within 7.
Gilmer got the ball back with a chance to tie the game. However, another interception gave Heritage the ball. They capitalized with a quick touchdown to extend their lead to 29-15 just before the close of the third quarter. The next Bobcat possession ended on a failed fourth down attempt. Heritage scored again, Hanson to Lowe, again. The missed PAT made it 35-15.
The young Cats kept playing though. The next possession was highlighted by a long run by Donnie Ledford, who also ran it in for a touchdown a few plays later to make it 35-22. The onside kick failed, but the Gilmer defense forced a three and out. Their attempt to score again was hampered by the lack of timeouts and questionable clock management by the officials upstairs. Either way, it was a fleeting attempt.
The takeaway from this one was multi-layered. Heritage was the most talented group they’ve seen all season. Thus, the end result wasn’t all that surprising (as Saunders alluded to). However, Gilmer had their chances to not only make this game close, but to win. I’ve said before “there’s no such thing as a good loss,” and this is no different. When the coaches and players go back and watch film of this game they’re going to be frustrated at the opportunities missed and the correctable mistakes made.
With that said, young teams must go through games like this before they can turn the corner to being contenders. Here’s the thing though, Gilmer IS a contender. They are very much alive in the 6-AAAA playoff race. They’ve turned the corner from “we just want to see them win” to “they can win games against good teams.” Either way, it will be entertaining.
The Gilmer Bobcats travel to Tunnel Hill next week to take on Northwest Whitfield.
Congratulations to Junior Left Tackle Dawson Stephens for being named our Player of the Week for his work against Heritage. Stephens is one of the anchors of the Gilmer Offensive Line that produced a solid rushing attack Friday night.
The Gilmer County Bobcats got their first region win of the 2019 season. Ashton White was a huge help in getting that victory.
Ashton White had 20 carries for 79 yards and one touchdown. He scored the only touchdown for the Bobcats.
Gilmer went into the half down 7-6 but came back to win 17-14. Congratulations to Ashton White- this week’s TeamFYNSports Writer’s Player of the Week for Gilmer!
Congratulations to Gilmer Sophomore Punter Seth Darling on being named Player of the Week for the Week 3 victory over Gordon Central. Darling had two key punts in the 6-3 defensive struggle that forced Gordon Central begin deep in their own territory.
Calhoun, GA — We got a taste of it against Fannin in the season opener. The Gilmer Bobcats put together a grinding, methodical drive on their first possession that resulted in points. Then a lot went wrong and the Bobcats were forced to play catch up. Not what they wanted to do. Last week in the home opener, Towns was outmatched in talent and depth the Cats were able to score early and often. Friday night at Gordon Central we really got to see how they will operate. We got to see them do what they wanted to do. They controlled the ball all night and made big defensive plays in critical moments to escape Calhoun with a 6-3 victory.
“We won a football game that we probably didn’t play really well, but we found a way to win,” said Coach Kevin Saunders after the game. Don’t let the modesty or the low score fool you. That’s exactly how this team will attempt to keep winning. Saunders then added, “They found a way to get the job done and we won, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
There is lots to be proud of. It was Homecoming Night at Gordon Central. It’s something we’ve grown used to over the years. The assumption of victory from the opponents. The PA announcer in the stadium referred to the Cats by number all night, like an anonymous pick-up group. The PA Announcer claimed to have never gotten a roster. So off they went, #6, #1, #24, and #8 as they’d be known, all had a busy night.
After muffing the opening kickoff out of bounds, the Cats opened things up inside the 10-yard line. The drive fizzled and the Cats were forced to punt. The Warriors came out playing fast in the spread, with running back Jordan Boone breaking a few runs of over ten yards. Yet, the Cats defense able to stall the drive and force an Edgar Ramirez field goal attempt. In what turned out to be one of the bigger plays of the game, the kick was no good. The Bobcats offense took over and went to work.
Throughout the rest of the first half Gilmer was able to slowly flip field position. They cashed in with a drive that started before the end of the first quarter and didn’t end until there were only four minutes left in the half. A couple fourth and short gambles got them inside the 5 yard line. A combination of Kobe Stonecipher, Ashton White, Gray McClure, and Spenser Smith chipped away at the Gordon Central defense. Gilmer Quarterback Spenser Smith punched it in to put the Bobcats ahead. The extra point attempt was no good.
The Warriors got the ball back looking for points before the break. After a couple first downs they were forced into a fourth down at midfield. They attempted a fake punt, Punter Peyton Parker rolled right and, under pressure, threw a ball up into double coverage that was broken up. However, a questionable late hit call kept the drive alive. In what seemed like an eternity thanks to clock issues, four timeouts, and more penalties, the Warriors positioned themselves inside the red zone for a field try at the buzzer. Ramirez was able to put it through this time, making it 6-3 Gilmer.
After forcing a quick Gordon Central punt to open the third, the Bobcats went on the drive of the game. Much like the scoring drive in the first half, the Cats pounded the ball three yards at a time. Slowly working the ball into the red zone. The drive ended with no points after a failed 4th down try, but it took almost ten minutes off the clock and pinned Gordon Central deep in their own territory. Gilmer forced a quick three and out but couldn’t get anything going. That set the stage for perhaps the biggest play of the night. Punter Seth Darling pinned the Warriors inside their own 10 yard line.
Boone and Gray got back to work for the Warriors, quickly moving them down field. Once again, the Gilmer defense was able to halt them on 4th down to get the ball back and seal the game. Unfortunately, a Gilmer fumble gave the ball back at midfield with 3:00 left on the clock.
Yet again, the Gilmer defense stood tall. They turned Gordon Central over on downs in just four plays. From then it was only a matter of running the final seconds off the clock. Spenser Smith took a knee and the game was over. It was their first road win since October of 2015.
Gilmer extended their record to 2-1. It was an old-school football slugfest, a defensive struggle that went down to the wire. The score shouldn’t fool you, this was a game of long drives, key special teams plays, and clock control. “We control the football, we pound on people, and make it a four quarter game, and it’s ugly,” added Saunders.
An ugly win is always better than a pretty loss. The Gilmer Bobcats (2-1) will travel to Lumpkin County (0-3) next week. Lumpkin lost 31-0 to Jackson County in their last game.
Congratulations to Gilmer Sophomore OL/DL Will Bradburn on being named Player of the Week for the Week 2 victory over Towns County. As the right guard for the Bobcats he played a crucial role in the success of their Wing-T attack, including several impact blocks that led to big plays. On defense, Bradburn was in the backfield all night, sacking the quarterback and forcing quick decisions that disrupted the Towns offensive game plan.
The scoring was early and often for the Fannin Rebels in the first half of the season opener against the visiting rivals from Gilmer. For the new look Gilmer Bobcats, the first game under Head Coach Kevin Saunders unfolded much like the others during their current 31 game losing streak. Fannin moved the ball up and down the field with ease, capitalized on turnovers deep in Gilmer territory, and even caught some lucky breaks that only seem to happen to Gilmer.
Gilmer answered Fannin’s opening touchdown with a field goal in the first quarter to make it 7-3. From there, it was all Rebels. Two quick touchdowns on the ground late in the first and early in the second made it 21-3. The following Gilmer drive started with promise, as Ashton White broke through the defense on a carry of nearly 30 yards. It would be short lived. Gilmer would be stripped of the ball, only to force a second fumble of the Fannin defender. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, Fannin Safety Cohutta Hyde picked up the second loose ball at midfield and returned it all the way for another Fannin touchdown. The failed two point conversion attempt left the score at 27-3.
From there, the Rebels combined stifling defense with a mix of running and passing on offense to tack on two more touchdowns before the conclusion of the first half — highlighted by a long pass from QB Luke Holloway to TE Jalen Ingram.
A running clock in the second half sped up the inevitable result. The Gilmer defense seemed to settle in a bit more, allowing zero second half points. The lone touchdown for Gilmer happened in the waning moments of the game when Kobe Stonecipher punched it in from the 4 yard line. Final score: Fannin 41 Gilmer 9.
The Bobcats look to rebound next week in their home opener against Towns County. Towns lost their opener to Hayesville 35-0.
Congratulations to the Gilmer Bobcats’ Kobe Stonecipher for being named this week’s Player of the Week in the season opener!
Kobe stood out in the season opener against Fannin on Friday. He had several successful kick returns, and scored the only touchdown of the night for the Bobcats! Congratulations again, Kobe! Good luck for the rest of this season!
As the playoffs for football in the state of Georgia wind down, The individual regions select their All-Region Teams. This season, 13 GHS varsity football players were recognized on either the 1st Team, 2nd Team, or Honorable Mention.
2 Bobcats made it on to the 1st Team Offense. They are:
Jr. Levi Seabolt- OL
Sr. Thaddeus Bowers- ATH
2 Bobcats were selected to the 1st Team Defense:
Sr. Lucas Bramlett- DL
Sr. Noble Zuschlag- LB
2 Bobcats were named to the 2nd Team Offense:
Sr. Russell Cochran- RB
Sr. Alix Lopez- K
Sr. Kell Kiker (DB) was named to the 2nd Team Defense
6 Bobcats were selected as Honorable Mention. They include:
Jr. Kameron Engler- LB
Jr. Austin Lacy- DL
So. Dillan Ledford- P
Jr. Griffin Cagle- WR
Sr. Jake Parker- TE
Sr. Shane Bowman- DL
Congrats to these players on this achievement.
The Gilmer Bobcats’ football squad had one of its most successful seasons in school history, and that did not go unnoticed by the rest of 7-AAAA, who selected a grand total of total members of Gilmer High School, including head coach Wesley Tanksersley.
Gilmer High School is proud to host a first round game of the state football playoffs this Friday at Huff-Mosley Memorial Stadium. (more…)
In 2012 the annual rivalry game between the Gilmer High School Bobcats and the Pickens Dragons boiled over on the FYN sports team during the football season. Rookie reporter, and Pickens Dragons beat reporter, Jordan “J-Dawg” Hill (or Justin as he is sometimes known around the office) issued a challenge to Gilmer Beat reporter, and FYN CEO Brian K. Pritchard. Obviously the reporter whose team lost would have to don the opposing team’s hat at midfield post game; Gilmer won 21-13.
After receiving their first loss of the year, the Gilmer Bobcats looked to get back to its winning ways Friday night in a Homecoming faceoff with the Ramblers of Lafayette. The Bobcats bounced back from the loss to Dalton, with a 35-7 rout of the Ramblers. The Gilmer defense was stingy all night, not giving up a touchdown, until the outcome was well past decided. (more…)