Line Play Stands Out in Carthage’s Physical First Day in Pads
CARTHAGE -- Sixth-year Carthage head coach Scott Surratt preaches physical play, and that's exactly what he got Friday morning on the Bulldogs' first day in pads.
Surratt said Carthage started with tackling drills before going into their "Blood Alley" drill, which is similar to the famed "Oklahoma Drill" used by countless high school and college programs.
"We were very, very physical, a lot more physical than we've been for the first day of pads probably in the last couple of years," said Surratt, who is 62-11 with three state championships in his first five seasons in Carthage. "When we went into our team session we were also physical then, so we were excited about that."
Carthage's size stood out. Not only is Texas A&M commit Isaiah Golden (6-2, 315) lining up for the Bulldogs at defensive tackle after moving from Elysian Fields, but several other players cast imposing shadows on the Bulldog Stadium turf, including junior guard Adrian Goodacre (6-4, 325), junior guard Griffin Bankhead (6-3, 290), and senior defensive end Lane Pierce (6-6, 230).
"I thought Adrian Goodacre had a good day, and Mario McCain," Surratt said. "Defensive line, Isaiah's going to be tremendous, and Lane Pierce really showed up today. Of course Mario played well on the defensive line, and also K'Aelin Ware."
Carthage junior quarterback Blake Bogenschutz echoed his coach's thoughts on the team's physical nature.
"I think we're a lot more physical than we were this time last year," Bogenschutz said. "We're a lot more in shape, too. The offensive line did a lot better than I thought they would. ... It's not all about size, but size does matter."
McCain (6-0, 240) has started as a freshman and sophomore and is primed for a big junior year at left tackle and defensive end. He and Ware (6-0, 220), a senior, combined for 113 tackles in 2011. A defensive line including Golden, McCain, Ware, Pierce, and others should keep blockers off standout middle linebacker Trent Jackson (6-0, 215), who Surratt said has recently received interest from Tulsa. Jackson had 153 tackles last season.
Offensively, McCain, Goodacre, and Bankhead lead a unit that will block for one of Carthage's major strengths, according to Surratt.
"We've got some good backs, there's no question. We've got four backs we are very comfortable with," Surratt said. "Of course (Tevin) Pipkin. Bryian Bolton really showed up today and made some tremendous cuts and he's hard to tackle, which we knew he was going to be. D.K. Calloway made some really good runs today. At running back, we're really good."
Pipkin (5-10, 170) rushed for more than 1,700 yards as a sophomore, while Bogenschutz (6-0, 182) threw for almost 2,700 yards as a sophomore. Calloway (5-7, 170), a senior who also plays linebacker, had a 100-yard game a season ago while filling in for Pipkin. Jackson ran for eight scores in 2011 as Carthage's short-yardage back. Bolton (5-8, 165), Carthage's top prospect in the 2015 class, is the son of former Bulldog standout Marland Bolton, who ran for more than 1,600 yards and 25 touchdowns during Carthage's 15-1 Class 4A state final run in 1991.
Receiver and secondary are spots Surratt said need work. Replacing Texas A&M signee Edward Pope, an all-state player on both sides of the ball, won't be easy, and neither will replacing veteran cornerback Meechie Bowman (Southern Arkansas). Receivers Sammy Chhor, Okeeron Rutherford, and Tee Goree made touchdown catches Friday, and Surratt added that Major Harris had the "play of the day" with "an unbelievable catch."
"Bryian Bolton had a great day at safety," Surratt said. "Gabe Villanueva is tremendously physical back there (at safety), so we think we're going to be really good back there before it's over."
Kilgore hosts Carthage in a 10 a.m. scrimmage Aug. 18. The Bulldogs unveil their new scoreboard in an Aug. 24 home scrimmage against Gladewater.
Isaiah Golden solid commit to Texas A&M, but hopes to get offered by another school
Carthage 6-2, 315-pound defensive tackle Isaiah Golden has been committed to Texas A&M for months, but said Friday morning that another program interests him.
"Yeah, I'm pretty solid (to Texas A&M)," Golden said, but added, "I'd take a visit to LSU."
Golden has yet to receive an LSU offer, although he already holds offers from the Aggies, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and TCU. Golden competed in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge in Atlanta, Ga., earlier this summer and weighed 333 pounds there, but said he has since lost weight and gotten back down to his preferred playing weight of 315.
Golden enjoyed his first day in pads with the Bulldogs. He spent the first three years of his high school career at Elysian Fields before moving to Carthage in March. Golden had eight sacks each of the past two seasons.
"It was fun (Friday in pads). Lot of stuff I wasn't used to. Blood Alley, everybody yelling," said Golden, referring to the Bulldogs' version of Oklahoma Drill. "It was good. It got me hyped and ready to go."
Golden had high praise for junior Adrian Goodacre, the only man on Carthage's roster bigger than Golden. Goodacre (6-4, 325) is expected to start at right guard.
"He has good technique," Golden said. "He knows what he's doing. He can read a D-lineman."
Carthage's new scoreboard will be largest in high school football
Looming above Friday's first practice in pads were five huge steel beams shooting vertically from the ground. They will serve as the supports for Carthage's new video replay board, which was paid for by passing a May bond election and will purportedly feature the largest video screen in high school football.
"According to the three companies we were dealing with, it's the biggest one screen-wise in the world as far as high school," Carthage coach Scott Surratt said. The screen will be 44 feet wide and 26 feet tall.
Nevco is the company erecting the scoreboard, which will be 45 feet by 58 feet in total size. The supports seen in the above photo are 90 feet long -- 68 feet above the ground, 22 feet below.
The scoreboard is the second part of a bond election package voters approved in May. The first part was almost $10 million in school facilities and maintenance improvements, and the third portion was $3.25 million for an indoor multi-purpose practice facility. The scoreboard portion cost $750,000.
Replays will feature advertising sponsorships. Six to eight people from the Carthage High School TV Department will run the scoreboard, which will be fed using four cameras.
Surratt said the scoreboard will be ready for Carthage's Aug. 24 home scrimmage against Gladewater. The Bulldogs host Jacksonville on Aug. 31 in the season opener.