Nacogdoches Dragons (2-0)

Vs.

No. 9 Carthage Bulldogs (1-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Bulldog Stadium, Carthage

Coaches
  • Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
  • Carthage: Scott Surratt

 

Last week
  • Nacogdoches: def. Hallsville, 37-36
  • Carthage: def. Lindale, 22-13

 

Next week
  • Nacogdoches: Idle
  • Carthage: at Gladewater, Sept. 19

 

Just the facts
  • Carthage and Nacogdoches have met 14 times since 1994. The Bulldogs have a 9-5 advantage and defeated the Dragons on the way to state championships in 2008, 2009 and 2013.
  • Carthage rebounded from a rough 50-20 loss against Hallsville in its season-opener for a 22-13 win against Lindale last week.
  • Carthage is ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press' Class 4A poll for the second straight week. It was No. 4 in the preseason poll.
  • Nacogdoches defeated Hallsville last week, 37-36, on a last-second field goal from Rudy Fuentes. The Dragons defeated Kilgore the week prior on a last-second field goal as well.
  • Hunter McClellan is off to a strong senior year at quarterback for Nacogdoches. He has 632 passing yards and six touchdowns.
  • Carthage quarterback Jarod Blissett, a junior, performed well against Lindale. He threw two touchdowns last week and finished the game with 257 yards.
  • Nacogdoches' secondary entered the season with a lot of recognition. Senior cornerback Jaylon Lane, an Oklahoma State commitment, holds 38 FBS scholarships. Junior safety Brandon Jones has 30 FBS offers. Junior safety Corey Lane has a scholarship opportunity from Louisiana Tech.

 

Playmakers

Nacogdoches

  • S Brandon Jones, Jr. 6-0, 185 (East Texas’ Class of 2016 scholarship leader with 30 FBS offers)
  • CB Jaylon Lane, Sr., 6-2, 180 (East Texas’ Class of 2015 scholarship leader with 38 offers)
  • S Corey Lane, Jr., 5-11, 185
  • QB Hunter McClellan, Sr., 6-2, 175 (6 passing TDs, 0 INTs, 632 yards)
  • WR Sam Morgan, Sr., 5-11, 175
  • CB Latavion “Tay” Forest, Sr., 5-10, 180
  • WR Ken Rogers, Sr., 5-11, 167
  • RB Coronado Tolbert, Sr. (53 carries, 357 yards, 2 TDs)
  • K Rudy Fuentes, Sr. (Back-to-back late game field goals)

 

Carthage

  • DL Jarrod McLin, Jr., 6-3, 220
  • LB James Marshall, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • DL Chris Howard, Sr., 5-10, 190
  • WR Jakeldric Jackson, Jr., 5-8, 160
  • WR/DB Kirston Ingram, Jr., 5-9, 175
  • OL/DL Cagan Baldree, Jr., 6-3, 230
  • QB Jarod Blissett, Jr.
  • OL Branton Halcumb, Sr.

Nacogdoches cornerback Jaylon Lane, an Oklahoma State commitment, leads all East Texas players with 38 FBS scholarship opportunities. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Carthage's offense versus Nacogdoches' defense. The Dragons have an outstanding secondary, but the team had to come from behind to win their first two games of the 2014 season. The margin for error has been thin.

Carthage, meanwhile, is still trying to get its team in order after heavy graduation losses from last year's Class 3A Division I state championship roster.

The Bulldogs' early season issues have been most pronounced on the offensive side of the ball. Their young running backs have not been a dominant factor, although Mykel Gates came along for a team-best 99 yards last week on 18 carries. It has put pressure on first-year starting quarterback Jarod Blissett and the passing game.

Facing the Nacogdoches secondary is not exactly an ideal situation.

Carthage will need points in this game. Dragons quarterback Hunter McClellan, running back Coronado Tolbert and the receivers have more experience and are scoring with a little more ease.

Don't be surprised if: Carthage's offense takes another step in its maturation process through Friday's game. Blissett and the offense are getting thrown into a tough spot, but it's a golden opportunity for the running game to grow before taking on Gladewater and Gilmer in the final two non-district games. If the tailbacks are sharp, Carthage will be able to limit the Nacogdoches defensive backs' role in the game and level the playing field.

Nacogdoches running back Coronado Tolbert has 357 rushing yards through two games. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)