CLASS 4A DIVISION I
STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

Kennedale Wildcats (14-1)

vs.

Carthage Bulldogs (15-0)

11 a.m. Friday
AT&T Stadium, Arlington

 

Coaches

  • Kennedale: Richard Barrett
  • Carthage: Scott Surratt

 

Last week

 

Playmakers

Kennedale

  • RB Jaden Knowles, Sr., 5-8, 175 (180 carries, 2,200 yards, 34 TDs; 5 catches, 22 yards)
  • RB De'Shaun Kirven, Jr., 5-7, 166 (205 carries, 2,191 yards, 41 TDs; 10 catches, 156 yards, 2 TDs)
  • LB Larry Brooks, Sr., 6-0, 185 (154 tackles, 15 for loss, 2 sacks, 4 INTs, 3 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 4 recoveries, 1 blocked kick)
  • LB Ector Rivera, Sr., 5-8, 180 (148 tackles, 21 for loss, 6 sacks, 1 PBU)
  • DB JD Coffey, Fr., 6-0, 160 (88 tackles, 11 for loss, 1 sack, 6 INTs, 4 PBUs)
  • DB Devan Mason, Sr., 5-7, 160 (62 tackles, 6 for loss, 5 INTs, 6 PBUs, 1 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, 1 blocked kick)
  • QB Evan Jowers, Jr., 6-0, 192 (53 of 88, 1,005 yards, 11 TDs, 3 INTs; 96 carries, 686 yards, 8 TDs)
  • WR Jaden Smith, Jr., 6-6, 180 (19 catches, 466 yards, 6 TDs)
  • LB Jalen Myers, Jr., 5-7, 160 (90 tackles, 18 for loss, 8 sacks, 3 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery)
  • DL Avion Jenkins, Sr., 6-0, 190 (85 tackles, 23 for loss, 7 sacks, 3 forced fumbles)
  • SB/DB David Roper II, Sr., 6-0, 185 (31 carries, 357 yards, 4 TDs; 14 catches, 229 yards, 3 TDs; 20 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 PBU, 1 fumble recovery)
  • OL Isaiah Butler, Sr., 6-3, 288

 

Carthage

  • RB Keaontay Ingram, Sr., 6-0, 190 (221 carries, 2,164 yards, 34 TDs; 23 catches, 284 yards, 2 TDs; committed to Texas)
  • WR/DB Mekhi Colbert, Sr., 5-9, 190 (45 catches, 695 yards, 5 TDs; 18 carries, 239 yards; 37 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 QB pressure, 7 INTs, 6 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 recovery, 1 defensive TD)
  • WR Dewaylon Ingram, Sr., 6-1, 160 (56 catches, 1,021 yards, 14 TDs; committed to Sam Houston State)
  • LB Ahmad Brown, Sr., 6-0, 225 (153 tackles, 22 for loss, 4 sacks, 3 QB pressures, 1 PBU, 3 forced fumbles 1 recovery)
  • LB Mykel Gates, Sr., 6-1, 221 (156 tackles, 20 for loss, 3 sacks, 6 QB pressures, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries, 2 defensive TDs)
  • WR Dee Bowens, Sr., 5-7, 140 (57 catches, 1,270 yards, 22 TDs)
  • QB Gunner Capps, Jr., 5-11, 170 (201 of 320, 3,448 yards, 45 TDs, 7 INTs)
  • DB Jacorey Ware, Jr., 6-0, 155 (34 tackles, 8 INTs, 6 PBUs, 1 fumble recovery, 2 defensive TDs)
  • LB Jose DeJulian, Sr., 5-10, 195 (137 tackles, 18 for loss, 3 sacks, 6 QB pressures, 1 INT, 7 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
  • DL Quinton Owens, Soph., 6-3, 220 (78 tackles, 10 for loss, 6 sacks, 20 QB pressures, 2 PBUs, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 defensive TD)
  • DL Desmund Hicks, Soph., 6-1, 220 (53 tackles, 5 for loss, 4 sacks, 4 QB pressures, 1 PBU, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 defensive TD)
  • DL Montario Wilson, Sr., 5-8, 194 (77 tackles, 14 for loss, 5 sacks, 9 QB pressures, 1 INT, 1 PBU, 4 forced fumbles, 1 defensive TD)

 

Just the facts

  • Kennedale averages 54.5 points and 466 yards per game -- 399 rushing and 67 passing.
  • Kennedale running backs Jaden Knowles and De'Shaun Kirven have combined for 20, 100-yard games this season.
  • Kennedale runs the ball 87.3 percent of the time, but 11 of its 53 completions on the season have gone for touchdowns.
  • Kennedale has 15 players who have recorded at least one sack on the season.
  • Kenendale allows an average of 17.7 points per game, and has forced 32 turnovers -- 16 interceptions and 16 fumbles.
  • Kennedale's opponents this season have a cumulative record of 96-79 (.549).
  • Carthage averages 46.4 points and 447.1 yards per game -- 213.6 rushing and 233.5 passing.
  • Carthage receivers Dee Bowens and Dewaylon Ingram have combined for 65.4 percent of the team's receiving yardage and 36 of the 45 touchdown catches.
  • Carthage averages 54 offensive snaps per game -- 31 rushes and 24 pass attempts.
  • Carthage has six players who have scored at least one defensive touchdown this season.
  • Carthage allows an average of 20.4 points per game, and has forced 38 turnovers -- 20 interceptions and 18 fumbles.
  • Carthage's opponents this season have a cumulative record of 91-72 (.558).

 

Key matchup: Kennedale rushing attack vs. Carthage defensive front. There's no secret what the Kennedale Wildcats' plans are on offense: run the football, keep running the ball, and run it some more. Kennedale calls running plays almost 90 percent of the time, and it's a formula that's hard to argue against. The Wildcats are averaging almost 400 yards on the ground and more than 54 points per game. Kennedale hasn't been stopped all season. In the one game it lost, a three-point loss to 4A Division II finalist West Orange-Stark, it still managed 289 rushing yards. In their last four playoff wins, which have come against Van, Midlothian Heritage, Kaufman, and Stephenville, the Wildcats have run for 361, 359, 430, and 537 yards, respectively.

Carthage LB Mykel Gates. (© Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Most of the production comes from its two 2,000-yard running backs -- senior Jaden Knowles and junior De'Shaun Kirven. Knowles leads the team with 2,200 yards and has run for 34 touchdowns, while Kirven isn't far behind with 2,191 yards and a team-best 41 touchdowns. And it was Kirven who really ran wild in last week's 54-28 semifinal win over Stephenville, as he rung up a season-high 354 yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries. Needless to say, Carthage's defensive front should have its hands full against Kennedale's powerful Wing-T attack.

Carthage WR Dee Bowens. (© Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Carthage might have the best collection of linebackers in Class 4A with the senior trio of Ahmad Brown, Jose DeJulian, and Mykel Gates. All three have posted more than 137 tackles, and have served as run stoppers for most of the season. The Bulldogs' defensive line, which is anchored by sophomore pass-rushing specialists Quinton Owens and Desmund Hicks, will have a different set of challenges this week. Their man job will be to engage Kenendale's blockers long enough to free up the linebackers to make plays at or near the line of scrimmage. If the Carthage front four can hold their own against a big and talented Kennedale offensive line, the Bulldogs might be able to solve the Wildcats' rushing prowess.

Don't be surprised if: Kennedale goes man-to-man against Carthage's offense for most of the game. The Wildcats' defense is often overlooked because of the exceptional play of the offense and the 2017 graduation of linebacker Baron Browning, who is now at Ohio State. But Kennedale's defense is certainly state-championship quality. It has speed at almost every position defensively, and will rely on that athleticism to defend an extremely skilled and complex Carthage offense.

With man-to-man coverage comes one-on-one matchups for Carthage receivers Dewaylon Ingram, Dee Bowens, and Mekhi Colbert. And as most of the Bulldogs' 2017 opponents can attest, that is a risky game plan. Bowens has 22 touchdown receptions, and leads the team with 1,270 yards, averaging a team-best 22.3 yards per catch. Ingram is the possession receiver, who excels in the red zone because of his size and ball skills. He comes into Friday's game with 56 catches for 1,021 yards and 14 touchdowns. Colbert is a jack of all trades, sometimes even lining up at quarterback in goal-line situations.

If Kennedale goes with man coverage, it will be up to Carthage junior quarterback Gunner Capps to find the open receiver.