Strength Meets Strength When Carthage Visits Nacogdoches
Carthage Bulldogs (1-1)
Nacogdoches Dragons (1-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Dragon Stadium, Nacogdoches
- Carthage: Scott Surratt
- Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
- Carthage: vs. Gladewater, Sept. 18
- Nacogdoches: idle
- TE/DL Jarrod McLin, Sr., 6-3, 215
- WR/TE Marquise Guinn, Sr., 6-4, 220
- QB Jarod Blissett, Sr., 6-1, 200
- WR Jakeldric Jackson, Sr., 5-9, 160
- OL Cagan Baldree, Sr., 6-4, 250
- RB Ravodney Hardy, Sr.
- ATH Hunter Townsend, Soph., 5-11, 185
- LB Mykel Gates, Soph., 5-11, 215
- FB Brewster Griffith, Jr.
- OL Brandon Carlson, Sr., 5-11, 260
- DB Brandon Jones, Sr., 6-0, 190
- DB Corey Lane, Sr., 6-0, 185
- QB Noah Hildebrand, Jr., 6-1, 180
- LB Derrick Wright, Jr., 5-8, 180
- WR Jaylon Maxie, Jr., 6-0, 165
- WR Alex Gregory, Sr., 6-0, 175
- RB Phillip Jones, Sr.
- WR Josh Thompson, Jr., 6-0, 175
Just the facts
- Carthage and Nacogdoches have met 15 times since 1994. The Bulldogs have a 9-6 advantage.
- The Dragons won last year's meeting, 34-14. The Bulldogs went on to lose their next three games for a 1-5 start before turning the corner and reaching the Class 4A Division I area round.
- Friday's game will be Nacogdoches' last of its non-district schedule. It will begin District 16-5A competition in two weeks against Lufkin. Carthage still has tune-up games against Gladewater and Gilmer ahead of it.
- Carthage is one of seven East Texas Class 4A teams receiving votes in the Associated Press' state poll.
- This isn't your big brother's Nacogdoches team. Head coach Bobby Reyes is 15-9 overall following an 0-10 first year in 2012. The program has reached the playoffs in two straight years.
- Prior to Reyes' first playoff season in 2013, the Dragons' program had only reached the postseason twice since 1965.
- Carthage and Nacogdoches already share one common opponent -- Hallsville -- and both programs fell to that team in overtime. The Bulldogs lost, 39-38, in Week 1 and the Dragons were defeated, 23-20, six days ago.
- Two good quarterbacks will be on display Friday. Carthage senior Jarod Blissett has thrown for more than 800 yards. Nacogdoches junior Noah Hildebrand, a summer transfer from Bossier High School, has 373 yards in an offense that is leaning more on its running game early in the season.
- The Nacogdoches defense features arguably the best high school safety in the country. Brandon Jones anchors the defensive backfield, has more than 40 Division I offers and is a consensus top 100 player nationally.
- Carthage linebacker Brewster Griffitth is the current owner of the ETSN.fm + Dairy Queen Defensive Player of the Week award.
Key matchup: Carthage's passing game against Nacogdoches' defense.
Bulldogs quarterback Jarod Blissett is on a tear, is well on pace to break 1,000 yards passing in Friday's game. Carthage as a whole has developed some nice receivers the signal caller will get to work with all season. Most notably, seniors Jakeldric Jackson and Marquise Guinn are back in the mix, and they're off to strong starts. Defensive end Jarrod McLin, a UTSA commitment, also is in the act occasionally as a tight end.
The group has helped open things up for the Bulldogs' running game, a phase of offense that struggled through non-district last year.
Carthage's passing attack keeps defenses on their heels and unable to devote a lot of resources to the running game. However, they've met their match against the Dragons' two senior safeties.
Brandon Jones is has been a well-known commodity since his sophomore year and specifically plans to attend Alabama, Baylor, LSU, Oregon, Texas or Texas A&M after graduation in May. Safety Corey Lane also is a Division I prospect with one current offer from Louisiana Tech.
The two players should influence Carthage to throw intermediate passes rather than going for big play after big play. But defense as a whole is a strength for Bobby Reyes' team. It suffocated Kilgore in its Week 1 victory and gave the overall team plenty of opportunities to win against Hallsville in regulation.
The Bulldogs are better built to pass. Nacogdoches is built to defend the throw ahead of games in pass-heavy District 16-5A games.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is a thriller. While Nacogdoches' defense deserves a lot of early season credit, Carthage's defensive unit played an excellent game last week against Lindale following a fairly high scoring loss to Hallsville. The Dragons' offense also has flashed promising signs. Games fans remember the most feature a score to defensive stop ratio of 1:1. With clear strengths and no glaring weaknesses between the two schools, particularly when the Bulldogs' offense meets Nacogdoches' defense, there's potential for this meeting to be the most exciting of the series.