Familiar Face Helps Guide Carthage to Perfect Pool Play Performance At State 7-on-7 Tourney
COLLEGE STATION -- Just a few weeks removed from high school graduation, Jarod Blissett is getting a jump-start on what he hopes is a long and successful career.
As a coach.
Blissett, who passed for more than 4,000 yards as a senior in leading Carthage to the Class 4A Division I semifinals last season, has been working the sidelines this summer as the Bulldogs' 7-on-7 coach.
So far, so good.
Carthage breezed through pool play Thursday at the Division II state 7-on-7 tournament at Veterans Athletic Park and Complex. The Bulldogs were a perfect 3-0 in Pool N, and are among the 64 teams that will be vying for the state crown Friday.
"It's a lot more (responsibility) than just a player because you've got to get the players in the right position, and you've got to teach them what to do," Blissett said.
The two-year varsity starter at quarterback capped his high school career with 4,069 yards through the air with 41 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2015. The yardage total broke the single-season school record set by Blake Bogenschutz during Carthage's 2013 state championship season.
Blissett decided to pursue baseball at the next level, and will enroll at Panola College in Carthage this fall to do just that. But coaching is what Blissett sees for himself in the distant future.
"I miss football a lot, so (Carthage head football coach Scott Surratt) asked if I could help out, coaching a little bit. I love doing this."
Carthage has a long lineage of talented quarterbacks during the Surratt regime, which began in 2007 and has four state championships won by three different quarterbacks -- Si'Darius Blackshire, Anthony Morgan, and Bogenschutz.
Blissett remembers learning the ropes from Bogenschutz, who signed with UTSA in 2014, and hopes to do what he can in passing down the heritage to new Carthage quarterback Kason Davis.
"My sophomore year I had Blake Bogenschutz to help, and he helped me more than anybody -- him and Coach Surratt," Blissett said. "I feel like I can help Kason a lot because I know a lot about the game and our offense. That's going to give him a competitive edge."
While Blissett made a name for himself on offense during his playing career, it was on the defensive side of the ball where Carthage shined the brightest Thursday.
Carthage began the day with a 27-0 shutout of Glen Rose, which featured three interceptions, including two from rising junior defensive back Mekhi Colbert. The Bulldogs followed with a 21-6 defeat of Midlothian Heritage, and finished the day with a 33-19 victory over La Feria.
"Defense wins championships, and our defense played really well today," Blissett said.
And just like most coaches, Blissett was quick to take blame for the team's shortcomings, which included a slow offensive start in the opener vs. Glen Rose. Carthage didn't find the end zone until right before halftime, before settling into a groove by scoring on its first three possessions of the second half.
"Part of it was my fault; I messed up on a couple of play calls," Blissett said. "We were just seeing what the defense was doing, and then we had to go execute."
The Bulldogs, will begin the single-elimination championship round at 9 a.m. Friday against Lorena (2-1 in Pool F) on Field 9B.
Palestine Reaches Championship Round + Chapel Hill Sputters
In their first ever appearance at the state 7-on-7 tournament, the Palestine Wildcats rebounded from a tough start to break through to the championship bracket.
Palestine opened Pool J action with a 31-20 loss to West, but recovered with a couple of wins later in the day -- 34-33 vs. Albany and 25-13 over Houston Lutheran South.
The Wildcats tied West and Lutheran South atop the pool with a 2-1 record, but earned a tiebreaker over Lutheran South -- as did West -- to reach the championship round.
Palestine will face Sweetwater (2-1 in Pool B) at 9 a.m. Friday on Field 3A in the Round of 64.
The Chapel Hill Bulldogs, perennial state tournament qualifiers, came to College Station in hopes of duplicating last summer's run to the Division II semifinals. But an 0-2 start in pool play Thursday will send Chapel Hill to the consolation bracket.
Chapel Hill dropped 33-19 and 34-7 decisions to Hitchcock and McGregor, respectively, before ending the day with a 45-18 win over Snyder in Pool K.
The Bulldogs will face fellow East Texas competitor White Oak at 8 a.m. Friday on Field 4B in the first round of consolation.