ETSN.fm Preseason Class 4A Poll: No. 1, Carthage Bulldogs
Since 2008, there has been no more accomplished program in all of East Texas than Carthage, which captured its fourth state title in six years last December with a 34-23 victory over new district rival Kilgore in the Class 3A Division I final.
Carthage's record over the past six seasons is a gaudy 79-12, while head coach Scott Surratt has a postseason record of 30-3 in seven years as the Bulldogs' boss.
But there are several question marks surrounding this year's squad, which includes just five starters back from last year's team.
Carthage graduated quarterback Blake Bogenschutz, who owns virtually all off the school's career and single-season passing records, a pair of 1,000-yard receivers -- North Texas signees Terian "Tee" Goree and O'Keeron Rutherford -- and 2,000-yard rusher Tevin Pipkin. The entire offensive line will feature a brand-new cast of characters as well.
The Carthage defense also suffered heavy personnel losses during the offseason.
But this type of challenge is not an unfamiliar one for Surrratt, who faced a similar situation following the last of his three consecutive state titles in 2010. That 2011 team, led by several sophomores, ended up finishing 9-4 with a berth in the regional semifinals.
Carthage does have a couple of impact performers back this year. Junior tight end Marquise Guinn has received interest from a few FBS programs, as has junior defensive end Jarrod McLin.
The Bulldogs also bring back linebacker James Marshall, who racked up well over 100 tackles as a junior last season.
Carthage's district -- 9-4A Division I -- will be more challenging than it's been the previous two seasons. Between Carthage, Kilgore, Chapel Hill and Henderson, there are seven state titles won since 2004.
Once the Bulldogs get to the playoffs, Navasota, which returns the bulk of its starters from a season ago, figures to be the Region III favorite.
2014 Carthage Bulldogs Schedule
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ETSN.fm Preseason Class 4A Poll
- No. 1: Carthage Bulldogs
- No. 2: Kilgore Bulldogs
- No. 3: Gilmer Buckeyes
- No. 4: Chapel Hill Bulldogs
- No. 5: Gladewater Bears
- No. 6: Athens Hornets
- No. 7: Tatum Eagles
- No. 8: Jasper Bulldogs
- No. 9: Palestine Wildcats
- No. 10: Liberty-Eylau Leopards