No. 1 Carthage Bulldogs (3-0)

vs.

No. 2 Gilmer Buckeyes (3-0)

7 p.m. Saturday
Jeff Traylor Stadium, Gilmer

 

Coaches

  • Carthage: Scott Surratt
  • Gilmer: Matt Turner

 

Last week

 

Next week

  • Carthage: idle
  • Gilmer: vs. Nacogdoches, Sept. 29

 

Playmakers

Carthage

  • RB Keaontay Ingram, Sr., 6-0, 200 (41 carries, 396 yards, 5 TDs; 7 catches, 60 yards; committed to Texas)
  • WR Dewaylon Ingram, Sr., 6-1, 170 (18 catches, 230 yards, 4 TDs)
  • LB Mykel Gates, Sr., 5-11, 230 (38 tackles, 7 for loss, 1 sack, 1 QB pressure, 2 PBUs)
  • WR/DB Mekhi Colbert, Sr., 5-9, 190 (10 catches, 137 yards, 2 TDs; 2 carries, 44 yards; 4 tackles, 1 PBU, 1 QB pressure)
  • QB Gunner Capps, Jr., 5-11, 170 (47 of 76, 692 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs)
  • WR Dee Bowens, Sr., 5-7, 140 (8 catches, 236 yards, 3 TDs)
  • LB Ahmad Brown, Sr., 6-0, 225 (33 tackles, 4 for loss)
  • CB Jacorey Ware, Jr., 6-0, 155 (4 tackles, 3 INTs)
  • DE Quinton Owens, Soph., 6-3, 215 (18 tackles, 2 for loss, 5 QB pressures, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 defensive TD)
  • DT Desmund Hicks, Soph., 6-2, 225 (13 tackles, 1 for loss)

 

Gilmer

  • QB Aaron "Poppy" Brown, Sr., 5-9, 180 (51 of 81, 865 yards, 10 TDs, 3 INTs; 17 carries, 91 yards, 2 TDs)
  • WR/CB Red Jones, Sr., 5-11, 150 (12 catches, 195 yards, 2 TDs; 2 carries, 16 yards, 0 TDs; 5 tackles, 1 INT, 4 PBUs)
  • RB/CB Brannon Webb, Jr., 5-10, 175 (25 carries, 232 yards, 4 TDs; 5 tackles, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
  • WR/S Qua Heath, Sr., 6-2, 165 (8 catches, 149 yards, 3 TDs; 8 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 PBU)
  • WR/S Morgan Lusty, Sr., 5-9, 150 (12 catches, 327 yards, 4 TDs; 7 tackles, 1 PBU)
  • LB Garry Orr, Sr., 6-1, 190 (22 tackles)
  • DT Abel Euceda, Jr. (13 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 sacks, 5 QB pressures)
  • RB/S Braydon Bates, Sr., 5-10, 175 (15 carries, 185 yards, 4 TDs; 5 catches, 20 yards, 0 TDs; 13 tackles)
  • LB Dain Goudarzi, Sr., 5-8, 157 (31 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 sack)
  • WR/CB Travion Fluellen, Jr. (7 catches, 106 yards, 0 TDs; 4 carries, 24 yards, 0 TDs; 9 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)

 

Just the facts

  • Carthage and Gilmer have combined for eight state championships since 2004. Carthage won titles in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2016, while Gilmer won it all in 2004, 2009, and 2014.
  • In last season's matchup, Carthage jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the first quarter, and held on for a 55-37 win.
  • Carthage is averaging 46.3 points and 433.3 yards per game -- 202.7 rushing and 230.6 passing.
  • Bulldogs running back Keaontay Ingram is averaging 9.5 yards per offensive touch this season.
  • Carthage's defense has forced eight turnovers -- five interceptions and three fumbles recoveries.
  • The Bulldogs' 583 total yards of offense last week against Whitehouse were a season high.
  • Gilmer is averaging 58 points and 574.3 yards per game -- 281.7 rushing and 292.6 passing.
  • Buckeyes quarterback Aaron "Poppy" Brown has passed for 5,878 yards and 58 touchdowns in 18 games as a starter.
  • Gilmer's defense has forced four turnovers, racked up 10 sacks, and made 23 tackles for loss this season.
  • Brown passed for a season-high 385 yards and five touchdowns in Gilmer's win over Argyle Liberty Christian last week.

 

Key matchup: Gilmer passing attack vs. Carthage secondary. Buckeyes quarterback Aaron "Poppy" Brown enjoyed a monstrous junior campaign in 2016, becoming only the fourth passer in Texas high school football history to throw for 5,000 yards in a single season. And the Buckeyes' gun-slinger is back at it again this season.

Gilmer QB Aaron "Poppy" Brown. (© Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

In three games, Brown has passed for 865 yards and 10 touchdowns, in leading a Gilmer offense that's averaging 58 points and 574 yards per game. He's completed 63 percent of his throws and is right at 17 yards per completion. Like all the best Gilmer teams of the past, the Buckeyes' receiving corps is deep. Ten different Gilmer players have at least one reception, and four have caught touchdown passes.

The top three pass-catchers this season have been Morgan Lusty, Red Jones, and Qua Heath, who account for 76 percent of receiving yardage and nine of the 10 touchdown catches.

Carthage WR/DB Mekhi Colbert. (© Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Carthage's secondary will certainly need to be on its toes. The Bulldogs' pass defense wasn't tested in a season-opening win over run-heavy Gladewater, but matched up against efficient passing attacks in each of the previous two weeks. Carthage held up well against Liberty-Eylau in Week 2, limiting the Leopards to 17-of-36 passing and intercepting two passes. Last week in a road win over Whitehouse, Carthage held the Wildcats to 215 yards through the air, and junior cornerback Jacorey Ware had three interceptions all by himself.

In last season's matchup, Carthage allowed 296 passing yards, but Brown completed only 31 of 56 attempts, and was intercepted once. The Bulldogs have five interceptions as a defense in the last two games.

Don't be surprised if: Each team's offensive superstar -- Gilmer's Brown and Carthage running Keaontay Ingram -- has their best games of the season. Yes, it's a tired cliché, but the best players typically shine the brightest on the biggest of stages. And the stage can't get much bigger that the one upon which Carthage and Gilmer will performing Saturday night.

Carthage RB Keaontay Ingram. (© Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)

Two of East Texas' most celebrated and accomplished programs meeting on the gridiron is always cause for supreme anticipation. But add the facts that it's the only game in the area on Saturday and it's a battle between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state's AP Class 4A poll, and Carthage-Gilmer might as well be a late-round playoff game in the middle of September.

For Carthage, the game is its final tuneup before play in the rough an tumble District 9-4A Division I begins. Following a bye week, the Bulldogs open league play against perennial area giants Henderson and Kilgore.

Gilmer, on the other hand, will be trying to accomplish two things: 1) The Buckeyes haven't lost at home since 2010, a stretch of 29 consecutive games. It will take a win over the state's top-ranked team to keep that streak alive. 2) Gilmer is hoping to avoid being defeated by the same team in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.