The latest Bulldogs-Buckeyes game was a bit of a shocker at the time.

Carthage put a beating on a Gilmer program that had not lost in the regular season since 2013. Carthage went on to win the Class 4A Division I state championship whereas the Buckeyes met their end in the 4A Division II state semifinals for the second consecutive season.

This series' upcoming installment is our 10th-ranked game as we count down the top 25 regular season contests involving East Texas teams.

You know the Bulldogs are going to roll into Gilmer on Sept. 23 as the favorite. Half of its starting group from the championship game has returned, including the state's top-ranked running back in Keaontay Ingram.

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

Honestly, the only two question marks at Carthage are quarterback and the defensive line. Ingram would nix the quarterback issue even if head coach Scott Surratt wasn't the area's best signal-caller mentor.

The Buckeyes also have 11 players returning from the semifinalist team, but they will miss receiver LaMarcus Morton and safety Kollin Hurt. Both of those guys now belong to the NCAA Division I FBS ranks.

Ingram will pound away at Gilmer's defense, but Buckeyes quarterback Aaron "Poppy" Brown might be the game's wildcard.

Brown surpassed 5,000 passing yards last season, showed some competency running the ball and finished his 15-game personal season with 56 total touchdowns.

Who's going to stop Brown? That's up to Carthage's fall camp and tune-up games against Gladewater, Liberty-Eylau and Whitehouse.

Gilmer also will have had a tune-up game against Liberty-Eylau and another good test from Carthage's district mate, Center, ahead of facing the Dawgs.

Bottom line, this game features the two most successful East Texas 4A programs since the mid-2000s.

Both teams are incredibly skilled, but skill only gets you so far. Both teams also are ridiculously disciplined.

When you're skilled and disciplined, no opponent is too large to be brought down.

Anything can happen in a Carthage-Gilmer game. Anything has happened in a Carthage-Gilmer game.

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