There are just two sure things regarding the District 10-4A Division I playoff picture heading into Friday night’s action:
The No. 2 Carthage Bulldogs, at 4-0 are going to be the district champs, and the Chapel Hill Bulldogs at 0-4 will be staying home.
That leaves Carthage’s Friday night opponent, Kilgore, and the other three 10-4A teams sitting with 2-2 district records and waiting to see what breaks up the four-way tie.
Kickoff at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. between Carthage (9-0, 4-0) and Kilgore (5-4, 2-2).
Obviously, Kilgore would get in with a win over the visiting Bulldogs, something Carthage Head Coach Scott Surratt isn’t even considering.
“The first thing for us to do is get a victory over Kilgore at their place,” Surratt said. “That hasn’t been real easy to do, although we’ve only won the last two there. We need to play better, play sharper and execute better on both sides of the ball to get ready for the playoffs. Counting this week, we’re getting ready to go on a seven-week shutdown in the playoffs.”
Kilgore probably should have clinched a spot in the playoffs last week, but lost to Palestine 21-7 after falling in a 14-0 hole in the first half they couldn’t get out of.
Dalton McElyea is the starting quarterback for the Kilgore Bulldogs, and he has Tracy Epps and Kenneth Lacy in the backfield with him.
Donovan Adkins and Brian Brown are his favorite receivers.
“They’re going to throw the ball more this year than they have in the past,” Surratt said. “The quarterback is big and tall. They’re still going to run the ball and try to be effective in it. But they’ll run some RPO’s as well. They have a real big offensive line.”
The defense is led by Deundre Blanton, a 6-2, 265-pound defensive tackle, who Surratt calls the best defensive lineman in the district — not counting his own players.
“On their defense you start with No. 94 (Blanton),” Surratt said. “He’s a three-year starter and he can control things. They have a good safety and a couple good corners.
“They’re going to try and stop the run and make us beat them by throwing it. Then they’ll mix up their coverages in the secondary.”
Rayvon Ingram is leads the Carthage defense and is coming off a 15-tackle, 1-sack night against Henderson. For the season, he has 86 total tackles, 9 TFL, 7 pressures, 1 PBU, 1 caused fumble, 2 INT, 2 Sacks, 4 qb hits and 1 defensive score.
Other top tackles for the Carthage Bulldogs are Quinton Owens and Kylon Lister with 56 tackles, Mason Bobo with 52 stops and a touchdown returning a recovered fumble, Jai Brazier with 50, D.J. Hicks with 49 and Cole Whitlock with 47. Miles Halton is tied with Ingram for the interception lead with two, while Hicks and Owens are tied with the linebacker for sacks with two.
Carthage is giving up 166 yards a game with 82.3 yards rushing and 83.8 passing.
“We just have to execute better,” Surratt said. “This team is very, very physical. We need to stay ahead of he chains instead of having third and long and fourth and long. We need to be in a good rhythm heading into the playoffs.”