All season long, opposing defenses had one objective when facing Carthage: Stop the running game.

That proved easier said than done.

Bulldogs senior Keaontay Ingram was not only one of the best high school running backs in the state, but he carried the designation of being one of the top backs in the nation.

And it was on the legs of Ingram in 2017 that Carthage brought home its sixth state championship in the last 10 seasons.

Ingram is the East Texas Football Super Team’s Offensive Player of the Year. He follows last year’s recipient, John Tyler quarterback Bryson Smith.

Despite being the primary focus for defenses, Ingram still managed to produce. He finished his senior year with 2,325 yards and 37 touchdowns rushing, and provided an additional 284 yards and two TD’s as a receiver.

It all led to Carthage going a perfect 16-0, culminating in the Bulldogs’ dominating 49-21 win over Kennedale in the Class 4A Division I championship game.

When asked about Ingram back in December, Carthage head coach Scott Surratt couldn’t have been more complimentary.

“He’s developed in all three phases of playing tailback, he’s the total package,” he said. “He’s worked hard on his protection, he felt like that was a weakness at one point, and he’s really good in protection now.

“And he’s worked really, really hard as a receiver. That’s all he played last spring, we knew he could run the football obviously. We put him out at receiver, and he’s dynamic out there, too. He’s a three-down back, or four-down here because we go for it most of the time.”

Ingram will make his college decision official this week by presumably signing with the University of Texas, to which he’s been committed since May of last year.

“When I was a kid I was a Longhorn fan, I bled orange,” Ingram said in a previous interview in December. “As the recruiting process came, the Texas Longhorns weren’t even in my top 10 or 15 at one point. But I eventually committed to them. It’s just the culture and what they’re bringing to the table, I see what most people don’t see.”

Most who have seen Ingram in person believe he is ticketed for stardom in college football.

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