"Most of our team left, we lost a lot of three year starters," Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor said.
"Josh Walker, Devondrick Dixon, Jayden Parish, Tanner Barr are all gone."
But the biggest loss for Gilmer came in March when wide receiver Desmond Pollard passed away unexpectedly after collapsing while playing basketball.
"It affected us a lot; it affected the town," senior running back and defensive back Kris Boyd said. "But we have to regroup; it brought us closer, including the town."
The senior-to-be led the Buckeyes in receiving last season and everyone admits, it's different without number 8 on the field.
"Right when I got on the field, it was kind of weird not seeing him out there starting out there at the outside wide receiver," quarterback McLane Carter said. "But once you get going you know he is up above watching us over and guiding us through the season."
Coach Traylor added, "The meeting today was sad, quarterback meeting, wide receiver meeting. Its just not the same."
Coach Traylor came up with the motto #Dezign8 for Gilmer to remember Desmond by, and the team takes it seriously.
"It hit it right on the mark and it fires us up too," McLane said. "It gets us going. If we are down we think about him, we say designate to each other, break on designate. It’s a great thing."
Wide receiver Chase Tate added, "We practice for him like 24/7 everyday. We come up here on our practice days and off days for him, and do it for Desmond."
And while the Twitter world has blown up, the players want to make sure to take care of business on the field.
"All of that is hype, but we really have to focus on winning," Boyd said. "Doing it all for him, man, all we want is a championship for him."
McLane added, "The expectation is to win every game and go win state. I mean, we want to do it for Desmond under his name and keep doing the tradition that we have."
A tradition Desmond Pollard would give anything to be a part of.
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