The No. 2 Carthage Bulldogs have taken care of business over the first six weeks of the season, posting a 5-0 record and showing some offensive and defensive muscle along the way.
However, come Friday night in Van Memorial Stadium, the games begin to count.
The Vandals come into the 7:30 p.m. kickoff with a 4-1 mark — they lost to the Gilmer team that Carthage beat.
But they share an 0-0 record with the Bulldogs and the other four schools in District 10-4A Division I.
The Bulldogs are coming off a big win over Pleasant Grove, but the win over the Hawks won’t help them make the playoffs.
“I know we beat a pretty good football team Friday night,” Carthage Coach Scott Surratt said. “And I know we can be a pretty good football team. But come Friday night, it’s time to get back to work.”
Van will run out of a spread offense, but how much they run and how much they throw will depend on who is playing quarterback.
Jayton Moffatt, the son of the head coach, is the starter, but he has been out with a separated shoulder. Javonta Thomas, who usually plays wide receiver, has been filling in for him.
“We’re not sure who’s going to start at quarterback,” Surratt said. “If Moffatt plays, they’re going to stay more balanced because he can throw the ball. The other quarterback is more of a runner.”
One player the Bulldogs know they will have to face is defensive end Jaden Jacobs, who was the district’s Defensive Most Valuable Player last year when he had 132 tackles, 17 sacks and 27 tackles for loss.
But he isn’t a one-man team, as the Vandals also count on linebacker Mauricio Herrera, safety Marcus Ozozco and cornerback Reeve Hughes.
“He’s just a very good player and he basically disrupts the offense,” Surratt said. “The rest of the defense plays hard.
“They’re going to slant a lot and show a lot of different coverages. They’re also going to blitz a lot — even on run downs. We just have to keep our eyes on him. He’s a lot quicker than what we’ve seen.”
The Carthage Bulldogs are averaging 38.8 points a game and giving up just 8.4.
Rayvon Ingram leads the defense with 44 tackles, folllowed by Jip Lewis with 37, Cole Whitlock with 34, Mason Bobo and Kylon Lister with 32 each, Quinton Owens with 28, D.J. Hicks with 27, Jai Brazier with 24 and Quan Brown with 23.
Offensively, Kai Horton has passed for more than 1,100 yards and has 16 touchdown passes as well as a TD reception.
Mason Courtney leads the team in rushing with 435 yards, while Jaden Thomas has 216 and Kelvontay Dixon has 137.
Dixon is the leading receiver with 23 catches for 340 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Bulldogs are a 31-point favorite according to the Harris Rating System.