It's not often that two state championship game participants find themselves placed in the very same district the following year. But as fate would have it, that's exactly what transpired back in February when the UIL made Kilgore and Carthage district mates once again.

And just because some of the names may be different, don't think for a second that fans, players and coaches haven't circled Oct. 17 on their calendars. That's when the much-anticipated rematch of Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs takes place, a meeting that could ultimately decide the District 9-4A Division I title.

Kilgore RB Kevrin Justice. (Christopher R. Vinn,

Kilgore vs. Carthage is No. 1 on's list of the top 25 games of 2014. The last time these two met, more than 20,000 drove the 100-plus miles west to Arlington's AT&T Stadium. They'll have to settle for Carthage's Bulldog Stadium, which seats 6,500, for the encore.

Both teams were hit hard by graduation. Carthage lost nine of its 11 starters on offense and brings back just three starters on the defensive side. Kilgore, meanwhile, returns just eight total starters, and must find adequate replacements for both the offensive and defensive lines -- the strength of Kilgore's 2013 team.

That's not to say Kilgore and Carthage won't be completely void of standouts.

Kilgore does return last year's leading rusher Kevrin Justice, a Houston commit who ran for almost 2,000 yards and 36 touchdowns a season ago.

Carthage brings back the 2016 tandem of tight end Marquise Guinn, who caught a touchdown pass in last December's state title game, and defensive end Jarrod McLin, whose pass-rushing prowess began rounding into form during Carthage's dominating postseason run.

This year's installment of Kilgore-Carthage will be the 50th in series history. Kilgore leads all-time, 27-22.'s Top 25 Games of 2014