GILMER — Gilmer’s Luke Turner has made a living at lowering his shoulders and taking on defenders, which has garnered him a few Tim Tebow comparisons.
Turner can trace that style of operating the quarterback position to his freshman season, when he started at linebacker for the Buckeyes.
“You are going to have the every game little bumps and bruises, but nothing too bad,” Turner said. “I like the contact. Especially when I’m dishing it out but not when I’m taking it, when I’m just standing there.”
Turner, a senior, will next lead fifth-ranked Gilmer (6-0, 1-0) into a heavyweight District 16-3A matchup against three-time defending state champion Carthage (4-2, 1-0). The game is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Buckeye Stadium.
“His freshman year he played 14 games at outside linebacker and his sophomore year he played 16 games at receiver, so he’s played more games at outside linebacker and receiver than he has at quarterback,” Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor said. “That’s the way we use him. Trying to keep Luke from having the linebacker mentality (is impossible) because that’s what Luke is.”
In his second season at quarterback, Turner has increased his resume to 19 starts behind center while moving the Buckeyes downfield both through the air and on the ground. The 6-2, 215-pound Rice pledge is a threat to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 yards for the second consecutive year.
So far, he’s completed 83 of 139 passes for 1,116 yards and 12 touchdowns with three interceptions and carried the ball 89 times for 584 yards and 10 scores. That’s helped Gilmer post commanding victories against Atlanta, Tatum, Jacksonville, Liberty-Eylau, Daingerfield and Gladewater.
Last week, Turner finished with less than 150 yards passing and less than 100 yards rushing in a 55-19 romp against archrival Gladewater, but still managed four touchdowns as Gilmer cruised in the second half.
“We’ve had some really good moments,” Turner said. “Our defense has come through a lot. In the L-E game our defense played a big part in it. I don’t think we would be undefeated it weren’t for them.
“I think the Gladewater game is a good highlight for us. Last year they played us well, but we came out this year and put it to them a little bit.”
As a team, Gilmer has rushed for 1,897 yards and passed for 1,116 yards on the season and averages a little more than 500 yards of offense per game.
The Buckeyes have also been led on the ground by senior running back Gavin Holt, who has carried the ball 76 times for 552 yards and eight scores. The leading receiver has been senior Darrion Pollard, who has 22 catches for 351 yards and three TDs.
“It’s been a good experience,” Turner said. “Last year it was the seniors’ team and not mine, but I played an important role in it. This year it’s my team so I’ve got to perform on and off the field even more than I did last year.”
Gilmer fell 38-21 to Carthage in last season’s meeting between the teams en route to finishing second behind the Bulldogs in the district standings.
“Last year they embarrassed us and we don’t want that to happen anymore,” Turner said. “We finally want to take it to them and see what we can do. We’re going to have to play with no mistakes. We’ve got to hit hard. We’ve got to block and we’ve got to catch and we’ve got to pass it.”