CLASS 4A DIVISION I AREA

Carthage Bulldogs (8-3)

vs.

Stafford Spartans (11-0)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Turner Stadium, Humble

 

Coaches

  • Carthage: Scott Surratt
  • Stafford: Ron Counter

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces winner between Jasper and Navasota, regional quarterfinals

 

Playmakers

Carthage

  • TE/DE Jarrod McLin, Sr., 6-3, 215 (18 catches, 276 yards, 4 TDs; 90 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 26 QB pressures, 6 PBU; committed to UTSA)
  • QB Jarod Blissett, Sr., 6-0, 200 (201 of 333, 2,990 yards, 31 TDs, 6 INTs)
  • WR Jakeldric Jackson, Sr., 5-9, 160 (68 catches, 1,131 yards, 13 TDs)
  • WR Hunter Townsend, Soph., 5-10, 180 (32 catches, 548 yards, 4 TDs; 29 carries, 198 yards, 1 TD)
  • LB Mykel Gates, Soph., 5-11, 215 (63 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack, 3 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, 1 INT, 2 PBUs)
  • S Jordan Romero, Sr., 5-10, 165 (62 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PBUs)
  • DB Mekhi Colbert, Soph., 5-9, 165 (30 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 INT, 2 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
  • RB Ravodney Hardy, Sr., 5-9, 200 (138 carries, 795 yards, 7 TDs; 15 catches, 158 yards, 1 TD)

 

Stafford

  • QB Curtis Robinson, Sr., 6-4, 170 (113 of 178, 1,637 yards, 15 TDs, 4 INTs; 76 carries, 236 yards, 7 TDs)
  • RB James Brown, Jr., 5-10, 180 (194 carries, 1,113 yards, 14 TDs; 20 catches, 174 yards, 1 TD)
  • WR Hezekiah Jones, Jr., 6-1, 195 (37 catches, 545 yards, 7 TDs)
  • WR Caleb Parker, Sr., 6-3, 175 (21 catches, 563 yards, 10 TDs)
  • DE Kameron Hill, Jr., 6-1, 205 (45 tackles, 14 for loss, 6 sacks, 18 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 1 PBU, 1 blocked kick)
  • DB David Allison, Jr., 5-8, 165 (68 tackles, 1 for loss, 4 INTs, 10 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 2 blocked kicks)
  • CB Edwin Godfrey, Jr., 5-11, 165 (44 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 QB pressures, 2 INTs, 7 PBUs, 2 fumble recoveries)
  • LB Elijah Smith, Sr., 5-11, 215 (108 tackles, 8 for loss, 4 sacks, 6 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)

 

Just the facts
  • Carthage is 102-24 (.810) overall, and 32-4 (.889) in the playoffs under head coach Scott Surratt.
  • With 10 more passing yards, Carthage's Jarod Blissett will become the third quarterback in school history with at least 3,000 passing yards in a season, joining Anthony Morgan (2010) and Blake Bogenschutz (2013).
  • Carthage is averaging 33.2 points and 418.7 yards per game -- 128.8 rushing and 289.9 passing.
  • The Bulldogs' defense is allowing 21.6 points per game, and has forced 19 turnovers in 11 games.
  • Carthage is 6-2 in area-round playoff games under head coach Scott Surratt.
  • Stafford is averaging 34.8 points and 324.5 yards per game -- 145.3 rushing and 179.2 passing.
  • The Spartans' defense is allowing 17.4 points per game, and has forced 20 turnovers in 11 games.
  • The cumulative record of Stafford's opponents this season is 68-50 (.576).

 

Carthage QB Jarod Blissett. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Carthage passing attack vs. Stafford secondary. Carthage senior quarterback Jarod Blissett is set to become a member of an elite fraternity this weekend. Blissett enters Friday's area-round playoff clash with unbeaten Stafford just 10 yards shy of becoming the third player in school history to pass for at least 3,000 yards in a season. He would join former Carthage quarterbacks Anthony Morgan and Blake Bogenschutz, who accomplished that milestone in 2010 and 2013, respectively. Incidentally, both of those seasons ended with two of Carthage's four state championships under head coach Scott Surratt. The Bulldogs' offense, typically one of the most multiple and balanced attacks in East Texas, has been more pass-oriented in 2015. In 11 games, Carthage has run 634 plays from scrimmage, and 362 (or 57 percent) have been passing attempts.

Carthage's best teams in the last decade have all featured productive running backs -- Dwight Smith in 2008, Hunter Holland in 2009 and 2010, and Tevin Pipkin from 2011-13. All three of those backs logged at least one 2,000-yard season at Carthage, but the Bulldogs' leading rusher this season -- senior Ravodney Hardy -- has gone for 795 yards. Despite having less production on the ground this season than in years past, Blissett and the Carthage passing game has thrived for most of the year. Blissett is completing 60 percent of his throws, and has just six interceptions in 333 attempts. Senior receiver Jakeldric Jackson has been the biggest benefactor of Carthage's prolific aerial assault, as he enters this week with twice as many receptions, yards, and touchdowns as any other player on the roster. Sophomore Hunter Townsend, who has emerged as a versatile playmaker this season, is coming off one of the best performances of his young career. He tied his season high with eight catches and finished with 125 yards and a touchdown in Carthage's bi-district rout of Bridge City.

Carthage WR Jakeldric Jackson. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Carthage will be lining up against a stout Stafford defensive front, which enters this week with 29 sacks as a team and 52 tackles for loss. The Spartans' defense has also come away with 10 interceptions on the season, and both defensive units will be counted upon to take away what Carthage has done best in 2015. The sacks have come from 10 different defenders, which speaks to the overall defensive versatility Stafford possesses.

Don't be surprised if: Carthage attempts to establish a running game early. Even though Blissett has excelled this season despite an underperforming ground attack, the Bulldogs could make life easier on their quarterback by slowing down a fierce Stafford pass rush. Both running backs in the primary rotation, Hardy and sophomore Keaontay Ingram, should be relatively fresh with the limited workload up to this point. Hardy has carried the ball 138 times in 10 games this year, while Ingram has rushed for 264 yards and a couple of touchdowns on only 43 attempts. If Carthage is able to get its backs into an early rhythm, it may prove beneficial in the event of a Bulldogs lead in the fourth quarter, when grinding down the clock becomes crucial.