Chapel Hill Hosts Red-Hot Carthage With Playoffs Looming For Both
DISTRICT 9-4A DIVISION I
Carthage Bulldogs (4-5, 3-1)
Chapel Hill Bulldogs (5-4, 3-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Bulldog Stadium, New Chapel Hill
- Carthage: Scott Surratt
- Chapel Hill: Thomas Sitton
- Carthage: vs. TBD, Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff
- Chapel Hill: vs. TBD, Class 4A Division I bi-district playoff
Just the facts
- Carthage leads the all-time series with Chapel Hill, 24-8. Carthage has won the last two after Chapel Hill won two straight in 2010 and 2011.
- Carthage and Chapel Hill have combined for five state championships and six title-game appearances since 2008.
- For the season, Carthage is averaging 26 points and 362.9 yards per game -- 149 rushing and 213.9 passing.
- Carthage is averaging 39.3 points per game during its current three-game winning streak.
- Carthage has not won fewer than nine games in a season since Scott Surratt took over the program in 2007.
- For the season, Chapel Hill is averaging 39.6 points and 419.6 yards per game -- 263.3 rushing and 156.2 passing.
- Chapel Hill is averaging 46 points and 523.5 yards per game in district.
- Under sixth-year head coach Thomas Sitton, Chapel Hill is 50-23.
- DL Jarrod McLin, Jr., 6-3, 220
- QB Jarod Blissett, Jr., 6-2, 200 (139 of 268, 1,925 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs)
- LB James Marshall, Sr., 6-0, 200
- WR Jakeldric Jackson, Jr., 5-9, 170 (46 catches, 724 yards, 3 TDs)
- WR Kirston Ingram, Jr., 5-9, 170 (17 catches, 306 yards)
- RB Mykel Gates, Fr., 6-0, 212 (70 carries, 345 yards, 3 TDs; 4 catches, 31 yards)
- RB Deairreus Hearn, Jr., 5-6, 150 (18 carries, 253 yards, TD; 1 catch, 37 yards, TD)
- ATH Hunter Townsend, Fr. (20 carries, 172 yards; 13 catches, 155 yards, 2 TDs)
- FB/LB Reggie King, Jr., 5-11, 205 (41 carries, 272 yards, 13 TDs; 20 catches, 230 yards, 2 TDs)
- OL/DL Jeremy West, Jr., 6-3, 280
- WR/LB Deundre Phillips, Jr., 5-8, 180 (20 catches, 367 yards, 4 TDs; 26 carries, 39 yards, TD)
- RB/LB Delenis Garrett, Sr., 5-9, 200 (34 carries, 205 yards, 6 TDs)
- RB Ja'Braylon Franklin, Jr. (68 carries, 716 yards, 4 TDs; 5 catches, 51 yards)
- WR Jeffery Minor, Sr., 6-0, 170 (19 catches, 273 yards, 3 TDs; 8 carries, 60 yards)
- QB Konnor Hitchcock, Jr., 5-8, 180 (98 of 167, 1,406 yards, 12 TDs, 7 INTs; 41 carries, 107 yards, TD)
- RB Michael Bledsoe, Sr., 5-7, 165 (77 carries, 603 yards, 2 TDs)
Key matchup: Chapel Hill rushing attack vs. Carthage defensive front. In order for Chapel Hill to be effective, it must find success with its running game. In Chapel Hill's five wins this season, the Bulldogs are averaging 343.6 rushing yards per game. However, in Chapel Hill's four losses, the 'Dogs have averaged only 163 per game on the ground. In last week's 37-14 loss to Henderson, Chapel Hill was held to a season-low in points, due in large measure to a rushing attack that managed just 174 yards -- the Bulldogs' second-worst output of the season. Success on the ground has a direct impact on Chapel Hill's passing game as well. Junior quarterback Konnor Hitchcock completes 66.2 percent of his passes and has thrown nine of his 12 touchdown passes and only two of his seven interceptions in Chapel Hill wins. But in losses, his completion percentage is 52.6 percent with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3-5. Chapel Hill certainly has the tools for a solid rushing attack. The duo of junior Ja'Braylon Franklin and senior Michael Bledsoe have combined for more than 1,300 yards, doing most of their damage between the 20's. Once Chapel Hill gets inside the red zone, it typically turns to its powerful duo of junior Reggie King and senior Delenis Garrett, who have 19 of the team's 30 rushing touchdowns.
It was a rough start to the season for defending state champion Carthage, which lost five of its first six games to begin a season for the first time since 2001. But the Bulldogs have regrouped of late, winning their last three games. And an improved defense has been the catalyst for the late-season turnaround. Carthage allowed an average of more than 38 points in its first six games of the year, but the Bulldogs have surrendered just three touchdowns total in the last three weeks. Part of what made Carthage's slow start had to do with its schedule. The cumulative record of the five teams that have beaten the Bulldogs this season -- Hallsville, Nacogdoches, Gladewater, Gilmer and Henderson -- is 38-7. Another reason Carthage struggled early was an inexperienced offense that had trouble extending drives and putting up points, which put added pressure on a defense that was also dealing with several new faces. While Carthage's offense has improved of late, it's been the defense that's really stood out the last three weeks, and it will be the defense that needs to play well Friday night in order for the team to extend their winning streak to four games.
Don't be surprised if: Chapel Hill looks to get its offense a jump-start by taking a few shots deep downfield in the passing game. Chapel Hill found itself in a 22-0 first-quarter hole last week at Henderson, and was not able to overcome the slow start. If Chapel Hill is able to get a couple of quick scores, it might be able to carry some renewed confidence not only through the remainder of the game but also into the playoffs. Carthage is also likely to load the box defensively in an attempt to slow down Chapel Hill's explosive rushing attack, which will lead to one-on-one situations downfield that the Chapel Hill coaches are hopeful Hitchcock and his receivers can exploit. Chapel Hill does need a good performance from its running backs, but if it can soften Carthage's defensive approach by having success through the air early, Chapel Hill could increases its chances of finding explosive plays in the running game. Both Carthage and Chapel Hill appear to be evenly matched, and the difference in the game could be decided by how Chapel Hill's defense matches up against Carthage's offense. Chapel Hill is allowing more than 35 points per game on the season, but had its moments in last week's loss, holding Henderson to less than 300 total yards.