No. 2 Gilmer Buckeyes (4-0)

vs.

Carthage Bulldogs (3-1)

7 p.m. Friday

Lobo Stadium, Longview

Coaches
  • Gilmer: Matt Turner
  • Carthage: Scott Surratt

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Gilmer: idle
  • Carthage: idle

 

Playmakers

Gilmer

  • ATH Demarco Boyd, Sr., 6-1, 230 (31 carries, 186 yards, 5 TDs, 12 receptions, 166 yards, 2 receiving TDs; 13 tackles, 1 INT)
  • OL Johnny Perez, Sr., 6-0, 250
  • WR/DB Kollin Hurt, Jr. (6 catches, 65 yards; 28 tackles, 2 INT)
  • RB/LB Cambron Granville, Sr., 5-7, 160 (13 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD; 33 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumbles forced)
  • RB/LB Kelton Collier, Jr., 6-0, 200 (48 carries, 298 yards, 4 TDs; 13 tackles, 1 forced fumble)
  • DL Tristain Olivares, Sr., 5-7, 185 (27 tackles, 2 sacks)
  • QB Zac Spears, Sr., 5-9, 170 (3 games played, missed one game with appendicitis, 33-68, 381 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 13 carries, 61 yards)

Carthage

  • TE/DL Jarrod McLin, Sr., 6-3, 215 (30 tackles)
  • WR/TE Marquise Guinn, Sr., 6-4, 220 (20 catches, 239 yards, 1 TD)
  • QB Jarod Blissett, Sr., 6-1, 200 (77-131, 1,009 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs)
  • WR Jakeldric Jackson, Sr., 5-9, 160 (24 catches, 256 yards, 3 TDs)
  • OL Cagan Baldree, Sr., 6-4, 250
  • RB Ravodney Hardy, Sr. (3 games played, 68 caries, 385 yards, 1 TD)
  • ATH Hunter Townsend, Soph., 5-11, 185 (16 catches, 299 yards, 2 TDs)
  • FB Brewster Griffith, Jr. (28 tackles, 1 INT)
  • OL Brandon Carlson, Sr., 5-11, 260

 

Just the facts
  • Saturday's meeting will be the 10th between the two schools since the end of World War II.
  • Gilmer holds a 5-4 advantage in the series, including a 58-21 win last season en route to the Class 4A Division II state championship.
  • The two teams won't meet in the playoffs despite both belonging to Class 4A. Carthage would go the Division I route and Gilmer would play in the Division II bracket.
  • Carthage and Gilmer have been two of East Texas' most successful programs since the turn of the century.
  • The Bulldogs won state championships in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013.
  • Gilmer won titles in 2004, 2009 and 2014 with other championship games appearances in 2007 and 2012.
  • Carthage has enough votes to be considered tied for 17th place in Class 4A overall with Pittsburg in the statewide Associated Press poll.
  • Gilmer is ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 4A with one first-place vote. It's the best ranking among 4A Division II teams.
  • Carthage has dramatically improved from last season's non-district schedule. It was 1-3 this time a season ago and is 3-1 this year with its sole loss coming to Class 5A Hallsville in overtime on opening night.
  • Since a five-point, season-opening win against No. 10 Liberty-Eylau at home, Gilmer has won all of its games by 16 or more points.
  • Both teams are undefeated against Class 4A competition. Gilmer has faced two 4A teams while Carthage has faced one.
  • Bulldogs quarterback Jarod Blissett had to exit last week's win against Gladewater in the second quarter. He suffered what appeared to be a minor head injury and remained suited up on the sideline through the game's conclusion.
  • Blisett broke 1,000 passing yards before his injury. Only two other East Texas quarterbacks have more than 1,000 yards.
  • Bulldogs No. 1 running back Ravodney Hardy also missed last week's game with an injury.
  • The Buckeyes are on a 20-game winning streak, dating back to Week 1 of the 2014 season.
  • Gilmer has a seven-game winning streak at neutral site venues in the same span.
  • Carthage's three wins were decided by a combined nine points.
  • This is the non-district finale for both teams.
Carthage quarterback Jarod Blissett is one of three quarterbacks in East Texas already past 1,000 yards. He missed more than half of last week's game with an injury. (Jim Frake, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Carthage's offense versus Gilmer's defense.

Every matchup between the Bulldogs and Buckeyes is an important one, but Carthage's offense has been impressive and Gilmer's defense is the most intact part of its state championship team last season.

In last year's meeting between the two teams -- featuring an overall young Bulldogs team --  Gilmer scored on its first play from scrimmage and then scored three defensive touchdowns before the first quarter was over.

The Bulldogs have dropped their turnover count significantly since the end of non-district play last season, but they did give up an interception and a fumble to Gladewater last week.

Quarterback Jarod Blissett has been significantly more efficient. On the way to throwing 1,009 yards, he has eight touchdown passes to three interceptions. The running game also has improved. It was unreliable at this point last season and has evolved into a strong second punch for the Bulldogs behind a tougher offensive line.

Gilmer counters with a defense that was good enough to hold off Liberty-Eylau in a 50-45 win, a team which went on to defeat its next three opponents, including two schools more than three times its size, by a combined score of 165-75.

Texas commitment and all-around athlete Demarco Boyd has played a big role on the offensive side of things for the Buckeyes, but he might be required to put in more plays on defense. He has the ability to flex between linebacker and defensive end.

The defensive unit as a whole has recorded 11 sacks and 10 turnovers through four games and has not allowed more than 27 points since the Liberty-Eylau win, including a shutout victory against Tatum two weeks ago.

Don't be surprised if: You're treated to a much better ball game between the two schools this year. Not only has Carthage upped its win total by two, it has shed 22 points defensively and added 36 points on the offensive side compared to its four-game totals a season ago. And it's a much more fair fight for the Bulldogs with the departure of two Buckeyes players for the Big 12 Conference and two more within the NCAA Division I FCS ranks. There's not a team better suited to break Gilmer's double-digit winning streak on the Buckeyes' remaining schedule than Carthage.

Gilmer RB/LB Demarco Boyd. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)