ETSN.fm 2013 Preseason Class 3A Poll: No. 1 Carthage
Their 2,800-yard passer is back. Their 1,600-yard rusher is back. Their top two receivers are back. Their entire offensive line is back.
The Carthage Bulldogs are back for what promises to be a huge 2013 season. With 10 returning offensive starters and a one of the better Class 3A secondaries in the state, seventh-year head coach Scott Surratt's Dawgs are ETSN.fm's preseason pick for the No. 1 spot in our East Texas 3A poll.
Carthage enters the season ranked No. 1 by Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine and TheOldCoach.com's Friday Night Football magazine, and No. 2 by the Associated Press.
Blake Bogenschutz will start at quarterback for the third consecutive year after throwing for more than 5,500 yards and 62 touchdowns as a sophomore and junior. Tevin Pipkin brings 3,300-plus career rushing yards to his tailback spot, while Division I FBS prospects Terian "Tee" Goree and O'Keeron Rutherford return after combining for almost 1,900 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns as juniors.
Then there's the offensive line that averages more than 260 pounds per player. The left side boasts 6-foot-4, 318-pound Louisiana-Lafayette commit Adrian Goodacre and 6-foot-3, 301-pound Griffin Bankhead.
Defensively, Carthage must rebuild its front seven, where only two starters return in their zone-heavy 4-3 scheme. But one is Mario McCain, who has started on varsity since his freshman season, when the Dawgs won the 2010 Class 3A Division II state crown, their third in a row.
The secondary will be Carthage's defensive strength early. Bryian Bolton is back after picking off eight passes -- tied for a single-season school record -- as a sophomore, while Keldrean Strong returns at cornerback. Goree, Pipkin, and 6-foot-3 cornerback Trevor Cooper should all see significant playing time on the back end.
The Bulldogs believed last year's state semifinal run wasn't long enough and hope to reach their fourth state title game in six years in December. They're the favorites in District 20-3A and D-I Region III bracket, though defending D-II champ Navasota could await them in the second round, and a strong Silsbee team that Carthage beat in last year's regional final could be back to face the Dawgs in the same round.
Nevertheless, ETSN.fm expects big things from Carthage this fall.