Kilgore Bulldogs (2-4, 1-0)

Vs.

Carthage Bulldogs (1-5, 0-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday

Bulldog Stadium, Carthage

 

Coaches
  • Kilgore: Mike Wood
  • Carthage: Scott Surratt

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Kilgore: vs. Chapel Hill, Oct. 24
  • Carthage: at Brownsboro, Oct. 24

 

Playmakers

Kilgore

  • RB Kevrin Justice, Sr., 6-0, 180 (Five games played, 87 carries, 468 yards, 6 TDs; 9 catches, 113 yards; committed to Houston)
  • QB Xaviar Gaona, Sr., 6-4 170 (48 of 71, 723 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INT; 27 carries, net of 114 rushing yards)
  • RB Jacquorius Smith, Jr., 5-8, 175 (92 carries, 667 yards, 9 TDs)
  • LB Kris Haynes, Sr., 5-11, 220
  • OL Blake Guthrie
  • DL Jacobe Wafer, Sr.
  • LB Mason Shelton, Jr.

 

Carthage

  • QB Jarod Blissett, Jr. (97 of 198, 1,271 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INT)
  • WR Jakeldric Jackson, Jr., 5-8, 160 (30 catches, 461 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR/DB Kirston Ingram, Sr., 5-9, 175 (16 catches, 193 yards, 2 TD)
  • DL Jarrod McLin, Jr., 6-3, 220
  • LB James Marshall, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • DL Chris Howard, Sr., 5-10, 190
  • OL/DL Cagan Baldree, Jr., 6-3, 230
  • OL Branton Halcumb, Sr.

 

Just the facts
  • Friday's District 9-4A Division I game features the two participants of the 2013 Class 3A Division I state championship game.
  • Carthage won the game, 34-23, for its fourth state championship. It was Kilgore's second state finals appearance and first loss.
  • The two teams were realigned in February. Kilgore moved from Region II into the new district, which is a part of Region III.
  • Kilgore leads the all-time series 27-22.
  • Friday's game renews the district portion of the series between the two programs. Carthage and Kilgore shared the same districts from 1988 to 2001.
  • Carthage is off to its worst start since 2001's 1-9 season.
  • Three of Kilgore's losses came by less than one full possession, including losing its first two games of the season against Nacogdoches and Corpus Christi Flour Bluff by a combined three points.

 

 

Kilgore running back and Houston verbal commitment Kevrin Justice as well as teammate Jacquorius Smith have been very productive on the ground this season. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Carthage's defense against Kilgore's running game. Carthage gave up 228 yards rushing against Henderson last week and will have to do a better job holding what could very well be a stronger Kilgore offense. Kilgore's Jacquorius Smith and Houston commitment Kevrin Justice have already combined for 12 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards. Keep in mind Justice missed a game.

Kilgore quarterback Xavier Gaona also can be a running concern with a net of 114 yards after sacks and kneel downs.

While both teams are disappointed with their starts to the 2014 season, Kilgore has been much more competitive in all phases. Carthage's defense will need to play its best game yet to have a chance, but it does have a good framework for a strong defensive front. Most of its remaining contributors from 2013 are on the defensive side.

Games like this have a tendency to draw a lot of emotion. The home team is defending the idea of its most recent state championship while the carryovers on Kilgore's team will be driven for a measure of revenge. The team that can put the schools' recent history to the side and play a disciplined game will have a major advantage.

When Carthage has the ball, expect a predominantly passing attack. Jarod Blissett has done a good job in his first year as a starter and he has nice targets in Kirston Ingram and Jakeldric Jackson to work with. Tailback Ravodney Hardy has been on the rise in recent weeks as a very physical runner and should be able to shoulder some of the load.

Don't be surprised if: Friday's game lives up to the preseason hype. Non-district disappointments have dampened the mood a little bit, but it would be difficult to find a game with the same energy level on the field and in the stands.

This game is important for reasons outside the obvious. Henderson looks like it will have a lot to say about the district outcome, but Kilgore can put itself in good position with a win against Carthage heading into games against Chapel Hill and Brownsboro. Carthage, meanwhile, can hop right back into the district race with a win against Kilgore and some help from other district foes down the road.

Kilgore quarterback Xaviar Gaona is a third option in the ground game. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)