A third-quarter run gave Jasper a 24-21 lead in Carthage last October before Panola County's Bulldogs turned on the jets to pull away for a 49-31 win.

This year, Jasper County hosts the battle of the Bulldogs, who play Oct. 25 at Jasper's Bulldog Field in what could be the de facto District 20-3A championship.

That's what it turned out to be last year, when Carthage won 49-31 at its Bulldog Stadium behind a second-half passing assault from quarterback Blake Bogenschutz.

He's back for the 2013 showdown, along with receivers Terian "Tee" Goree and O'Keeron Rutherford, who combined for more than 100 receptions, 1,800-plus yards, and 25 touchdown catches as juniors. That trio comprises less than a third of the 10 returning offensive starters seventh-year head coach Scott Surratt has at his disposal. Carthage averaged better than 42 points per game with that crew a season ago.

Tackling machine DeAnthony Cuney will spearhead the Jasper defensive effort from his linebacker spot, along with outside linebacker Shawn Jones. Jasper yielded only 18.3 points per game in 2012, but take away 49 points vs. Carthage and 59 in the second round vs. eventual Division II state champion Navasota, and that average drops to 11.1 points per game in Jasper's other 10 contests.

Six starters are back from that unit, which is the same number head coach Darrell Barbay has back on offense. Texas-bound center Terrell Cuney and running back Terrence Cuney, who ran for 1,295 yards as a junior, will lead the offense, along with quarterback Steven Walker.

Center could have a say in the 20-3A race as well, but there's no doubt that this game appears to be the most important in crowning a league champion entering the 2013 season.

Jasper TE/LB Shawn Jones. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

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