CLASS 4A DIVISION I
Region III Area Playoff

Carthage Bulldogs (6-5)

vs.

El Campo Ricebirds (10-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Texan Drive Stadium, Porter

 

Coaches
  • Carthage: Scott Surratt
  • El Campo: Bob Gillis

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces either Chapel Hill or Navasota, 4A Division I Region III semifinal

 

Playmakers

Carthage

  • TE/DE Jarrod McLin, Jr., 6-3, 220 (10 catches, 111 yards, TD)
  • LB James Marshall, Sr., 6-0, 200
  • QB Jarod Blissett, Jr., 6-2, 200 (166 of 322, 2,293 yards, 21 TDs, 8 INTs)
  • ATH Hunter Townsend, Fr. (20 catches, 273 yards, 2 TDs; 27 carries, 217 yards)
  • WR Jakeldric Jackson, Jr., 5-9, 170 (54 catches, 864 yards, 5 TDs)
  • WR Kirston Ingram, Jr., 5-9, 170 (21 catches, 392 yards, TD)
  • RB De'Airreus Hearn, Jr., 5-6, 160 (35 carries, 337 yards, 2 TDs; 3 catches, 52 yards, TD)
  • RB Brewster Griffith, Soph. (32 carries, 162 yards, TD; 7 catches, 35 yards, 2 TDs)

 

El Campo

  • FB Kevin Dove, Jr., 6-0, 230 (166 carries, 1,504 yards, 22 TDs; 2 catches, 65 yards, TD)
  • RB Alontae Harris, Jr., 5-9, 175 (94 carries, 983 yards, 9 TDs; 5 catches, 60 yards)
  • QB D.J. Washington, Sr., 5-10, 160 (20 of 38, 327 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs; 43 carries, 298 yards, 8 TDs)
  • DB Adrian Alameda, Sr. (4 INTs)
  • DB DeMarcus Wilson, Jr., 5-11, 140 (4 INTs)
  • DB Andrew Saucedo, Sr., 5-11, 150 (3 INTs)
  • DB Clayton Harp, Sr., 6-4, 175 (3 INTs)

 

Just the facts
  • Carthage is 31-3 in the playoffs under head coach Scott Surratt, including a 6-1 mark in the second round.
  • During its current five-game winning streak, Carthage is allowing 8.4 points per game. In their previous six games, the Bulldogs yielded 38.7.
  • Carthage is averaging 27.2 points and 356.5 yards per game -- 147.4 rushing and 209.1 passing.
  • Last week, the Bulldogs recorded their first playoff shutout since 2010.
  • The cumulative record of the five teams that have defeated Carthage this season is 43-11.
  • El Campo scored a 29-25 upset of Carthage in the 2012 Class 3A Division I state semifinals.
  • The Ricebirds are averaging 40.3 points and 383.1 yards per game -- 342 rushing and 41.1 passing.
  • The cumulative record of El Campo's opponents this season is 56-60.

 

Carthage LB James Marshall. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: El Campo rushing attack vs. Carthage defensive front. There aren't too many high school teams across the state of Texas that put as much emphasis on the running game as the El Campo Ricebirds. El Campo averages about four passing attempts per game, which puts the premium on a strong rushing attack to get the job done. El Campo comes into Friday night's area-round playoff averaging more than 340 rushing yards per game, the bulk of which coming from 1,500-yard rusher Kevin Dove and Alontae Harris, who is inching toward a 1,000-yard season. Dove is listed at fullback, but it's clear his responsibilities greatly outweigh the average fullback. Dove, a big back listed at 230 pounds, has just two games this season in which he failed to rush for more than 100 yards. And he has yet to be held out of the end zone in 11 games on the year. While not as powerful, Harris provides El Campo with explosiveness out of the backfield. Harris averages more than 10 yards per carry, and could be a difference maker if Carthage's defense focuses too closely on Dove. Don't expect El Campo to veer too much from its game plan, seeing as how starting quarterback D.J. Washington has only attempted 38 passes on the season.

Carthage QB Jarod Blissett. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

One of the biggest reasons for Carthage's mid-season turnaround has been its defense, which is allowing a little more than eight points per game during its current five-game winning streak. During the Bulldogs' 1-5 start, Carthage allowed more than 38 points per game to opponents. Some of that can be attributed to weaker competition. Carthage's first six games, included games against Class 5A programs like Hallsville, Lindale and Nacogdoches, along with top-notch 4A's like Gladewater (10-1), Gilmer (11-0) and Henderson (9-2). Carthage's last five opponents are a combined 17-36. Nevertheless, Carthage's defense has played much better down the stretch. Just last week, the Bulldogs recorded their first postseason shutout since 2010, holding Little Cypress-Mauriceville to 179 yards, including just 53 on the ground. Carthage was able to keep LCM's 1,200-yard rusher Robert Green in check all night, holding the Bears' leading rusher to just 27 yards on 20 carries. If Carthage is able to have similar success this week against El Campo's duo of Dove and Harris, the Bulldogs could find themselves in prime position for their sixth consecutive win.

Carthage WR Jakeldric Jackson. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: Carthage quarterback Jarod Blissett and his receivers have a big night. El Campo's rush defense has been rock-solid all season long, and with the injury-riddled backfield Carthage is bringing into Friday night's game, it may serve Carthage well to take to the air early and often. Blissett, after a slow start, is putting together a fine debut season at quarterback with more than 2,200 passing yards and 21 touchdowns passes in 11 games. Junior receiver Jakeldric Jackson has assumed the role of the team's primary threat downfield as the talented pass-catcher is moving closer to a 1,000-yard season. Freshman Hunter Townsend, who played quarterback for most of the season on Carthage's ninth grade team, has begun to emerge as a threat on offense as well. His speed has become a trusted weapon for coach Scott Surratt and Co. of late. His five catches last week were a team-high, as were his 83 receiving yards. With the injuries Carthage has suffered at running back, Townsend has also had a presence in the backfield, often shifting in and out of the backfield prior to the snap. If Blissett is clicking with Jackson, Townsend and the rest of the receiving corps, Carthage's offense could be in business against El Campo.