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12/05/07 - Gilmer

Always A Buckeye, Still

Football is a tradition in Gilmer, and the Buckeyes season was already a mission for a state title. The already emotional season took another turn when former Buckeye player Josh Nelson passed away from leukemia one week into the season. Nelson, a part of the Buckeyes State Championship season of 2004, continues to inspire his teammates.

" Josh will always be a part of us," Gilmer lineman Chip Elms said. "It was tough starting out, he passed right after our first football game. He'll always be a part of us."

"It's like a family," Buckeyes receiver Lamar Harris said. "We really have a lot of trust in each other.

The Gilmer Buckeyes have a motto every year, a slogan that unites them. Last year, it was Nelson. This year, it's "The Dash," a reminder of the space on your tombstone between birth and death, and the significance of the time spent.

"We had no idea when we picked that motto that Josh was going to pass away," Buckeyes coach Jeff Traylor said. "If anything, it kind of makes you reflect that football's not that important, you know. Living life for the Lord and your family and friends is what Josh reminds us of. I don't know if it has anything to do with winning."

Josh Nelson is gone, but he is still with his team.

"Our motto might not be Nelson this year, but he's still with us, " Elms said. "Once a Buckeye, always a Buckeye."

Reid Kerr can be reached at rkerr@kltv.com.

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