Something special could be brewing for Friday night in Bulldog Stadium.
But that’s to be expected in a district where the two of the closest schools play in what many call “The Greatest Rivalry in East Texas.”
“We’re excited about where we are and who we’re getting ready to play,” said Carthage Head Coach Scott Surratt as his Bulldogs get ready for yet another game against the Henderson Lions. “I hope it’s the first of two times we play them this year.”
The District 10-4A Division I showdown is set for 7:30 p.m. as the Lions (6-2, 2-1) invade Bulldog Stadium to take on second-ranked Carthage (8-0, 3-0).
The two teams are No. 2 and No. 7, respectively, in the #bEASTTexas Fabulous 15 Poll.
The two teams have meet eight times in the last five years, with the Bulldogs having won five straight, including three wins in the regional finals of the playoffs. A kickoff return for a touchdown to start the third quarter in last year’s regional finals in Longview’s Lobo Stadium is the only thing keeping the Bulldogs from having three straight shutouts against the Lions.
“If you need someone to get you motivated the week of the Henderson, you don’t need to be in our program,” Surratt said. “Everybody from the fans to the players to the coaches have to be ready for this one.”
The teams have played four common opponents so far with mixed results.
The Bulldogs have outscored Chapel Hill, Palestine, Pleasant Grove and Jacksonville 166-28 in beating all four teams.
The Lions lost to Pleasant Grove (40-7) and Palestine (41-19), while beating Chapel Hill 63-35 and Jacksonville 67-40.
“They’ve given up some points, but they’ve been scoring some points, too,” Surratt said. “They might not be as good defensively as they have been.”
While Surratt said the Lions have plenty of offensive standouts, their main man is quarterback Caleb Medford (6-3, 190).
“He’s probably their best runner and receiver,” Surratt said. “But he’s at his best at quarterback. No. 8 (Kevin Fields) is their top running back and No. 2 (Jyaaron Fuller) is the best wide receiver. They also have a pretty good sized offensive line.”
Medford sat out most of the first half two weeks ago against Kilgore before returning in the second half to rush for two scores and throw for another one to rally the Lions.
Senior middle linebacker Brady Odom (5-11, 210) is the Lions’ leader on defense.
Surratt also singled out Fields on defense along with Jakobie Bussey and Tobaius Jackson in the secondary.
The Bulldogs are averaging 37.3 points a game, while giving up 7.9.
Junior quarterback Kai Horton has thrown for 1,792 yards and 24 touchdowns completing 129 of 226 with five passes intercepted.
Mason Courtney leads the ground game with 757 yards and eight rushing touchdowns, while Jaden Thomas has 338 and four TDs and Kelvontay Dixon has 128 yards.
Dixon is the leading receiver with 39 catches for 650 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Kel Williams has 22 catches for 344 yards and three scores.
The defense is limiting teams to 156.8 yards of total offense a game with 83.9 passing and just 77.0 on the ground.
Rayvon Ingram is the leading tackler with 71, followed by Quinton Owens has 50 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks, Mason Bobo has 49 tackles, Kylon Lister has 48, Jai Brazier had 44 and Cole Whitlock and D.J. Hicks both have 40.
The Bulldogs are 24-point favorites in the Harris Rating System.