Carthage Hooks Up With Top-Ranked + Defending State Champion Navasota
CLASS 4A DIVISION I REGIONAL
Carthage Bulldogs (9-3)
Navasota Rattlers (12-0)
6 p.m. Friday
Provost Umphrey Stadium, Beaumont
- Carthage: Scott Surratt
- Navasota: Lee Fedora
- Winner faces winner between El Campo and Silsbee, state quarterfinals
- TE/DE Jarrod McLin, Sr., 6-3, 215 (committed to UTSA)
- QB Jarod Blissett, Sr., 6-1, 230
- WR Jakeldric Jackson, Sr., 5-9, 160
- WR Hunter Townsend, Soph., 5-11, 185
- S Jordan Romero, Sr., 5-10, 165
- RB Keontay Ingram, Soph., 5-10, 175
- LB Mykel Gates, Soph., 5-11, 215
- OL Cagan Baldree, Sr., 6-4, 250
- WR Tren'davian Dickson, Sr., 5-11, 170 (76 catches, 1,364 yards, 22 TDs; committed to Baylor)
- QB Shelton Eppler, Sr., 6-1, 185 (193 of 304, 3,463 yards, 53 TDs, 1 INT)
- WR Kae'ron Baker, Sr., 6-2, 175 (36 catches, 680 yards, 13 TDs)
- WR Deeldre Richardson, Jr., 5-9, 160 (43 catches, 777 yards, 7 TDs)
- DB Tremayne Creeks, Jr. (89 tackles, 14 for loss, 2 INTs, 1 fumble recovery)
- LB DJ Harris, Sr., 5-11, 190 (111 tackles, 14 for loss)
- DT Jonhathan Flores, Sr. (82 tackles, 32 for loss, 7 sacks, 11 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 2 recoveries)
- DE Jabril Hunter, Jr., 6-3, 190 (82 tackles, 24 for loss, 7 sacks, 9 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
Just the facts
- Carthage is 33-4 (.892) in the playoffs under head coach Scott Surratt. The four losses have come to Liberty Hill (2007), Argyle (2011), El Campo (2012), and El Campo (2014).
- Navasota has won 28 consecutive games. Its last loss occurred in the 2013 playoffs, 44-14 to Carthage, in the second round of the playoffs.
- Carthage is averaging 33.3 points per game, while allowing 19.8.
- The Bulldogs are playing in their seventh third-round playoff game under coach Scott Surratt. They are 5-1 (.833) in those games.
- The cumulative record of Carthage's opponents this season is 75-58 (.564).
- Navasota is averaging 58.9 points per game, while allowing 10.2.
- The Rattlers are 54-2 (.964) since 2012.
- The cumulative record of Navasota's opponents this season is 52-68 (.433).
Key matchup: Carthage rushing attack vs. Navasota defense. The Bulldogs have had little trouble passing the ball this season, but the running game has been less consistent. It all came together last week, however, in Carthage's 34-0 area-round shutout of previously unbeaten Stafford. Sophomore running back Keontay Ingram ran for a season-high 163 yards on only 11 carries and two second-half touchdowns to help the Bulldogs reach the third round of the playoffs for the seventh time in Scott Surratt's nine seasons as head coach. Heading into last week's game, Carthage's leading rusher -- senior Ravodney Hardy -- had just a little more than 700 yards on the season. But with Ingram bringing an added dimension to the offense, including an element of explosiveness out of the backfield, Carthage becomes an even more difficult offense to defend.
Navasota's defensive production has been off the charts this season. In just 12 games, the Rattlers have 155 tackles for loss as a team, and the defensive line in particular has been particularly stingy at the line of scrimmage. Senior defensive tackle Jonhathan Flores leads the team with 32 stops behind the line of scrimmage, while junior end Jabril Hunter counters with 24 tackles for loss. However, the Rattlers strugged to contain Jasper's ground assault in last week's 35-21 area-round victory. Jasper senior quarterback Tiger Williams capped his high school career with a 270-yard rushing performance against the Navasota defense.
The Rattlers possess one of the most explosive offenses in the state of Texas regardless of classification. Navasota averages almost 60 points per game, and enters Friday night's clash putting up 426.8 yards on average. Carthage may need to lean on its running game to shorten the game and limit the amount of possessions Navasota receives on offense. Rattlers senior quarterback Shelton Eppler has thrown 53 touchdowns to just one interception, while senior wideout and Baylor pledge Tren'davian Dickson is the state's career touchdown receptions leader -- a record he set last week with a scoring catch vs. Jasper.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is not decided until the fourth quarter. Carthage and Navasota are two of the state's most accomplished programs in the last decade. Since 2008, Carthage has amassed a record of 94-21 (.817), while Navasota is 94-11 (.895). The two programs have combined for six state championships over the that time span with Carthage winning from 2008-10 and in 2013, and Navasota bringing home the hardware in 2012 and 2014. The Rattlers enter as the favorite, having won 28 consecutive games dating back to their 2013 playoff loss Carthage. However, the Bulldogs are playing their best football of the season at exactly the right time. Since a 31-28 loss to Kilgore in district, Carthage has won five straight, outscoring opponents by an average of 28 points per game. If the game is close, an edge may go to Carthage, which has played in six games decided by four points or less. Navasota's closest game this year was last week's 14-point win over Jasper, and the Rattlers outscored the opposition by an average of 48.8 points per game.