No. 1 Carthage Carries 35-Game Winning Streak into Regular-Season Finale
[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]
District titles, state championships, and now a long-standing winning streak, are just some of the examples used in describing what high school football is like in Carthage, Texas.
For several years now, the Carthage Bulldogs have been one of the most dominant programs in all of high school football in the state of Texas. With all the accolades they’ve racked up over the past several years, one of the most-remarkable things the Bulldogs have going for them is an impressive 35-game winning streak.
This long stretch of victories started Oct. 14, 2016, with a win at home over Center, 42-16. Carthage won out the rest of the season, leading the Bulldogs to claim yet another state championship.
The 2017 season for the Bulldogs was perfect. They went undefeated, winning the district, the state title, and continuing the long run of victories.
Carthage head coach Scott Surratt said that their winning streak is not something he and his players focus on.
“We haven’t mentioned the streak to the players, but nowadays with social media it’s everywhere but, we never mention the streak,” Surratt said. “We just want to keep playing good football, practice well, and get better daily.”
The Bulldogs defense record a shutout last week against their rival Henderson, 34-0.
Some may have wondered at the beginning of the year if Carthage was going to suffer from a lack of experience, especially on defense.
“Number one you gotta give the credit to (defensive coordinator) Darren Preston and the defensive staff on the kinda job they do to get our kids ready to play on Friday night,” Surratt said. “The game plans they come up with and the execution of the game plans, it’s been very well. It’s easy to come up with good game plans, but to follow through with them is a different story.
“We had to replace all three linebackers, we had some experience in the defensive line to replace, and had to replace two safeties,” Surratt said. “We moved Cole Whitlock down to linebacker, and he has played very well. Rayvon Ingram has played very well at linebacker and of course our D-line we feel very good about. Cornerback Ja’Corey Ware he had another big pick for us the other night, so it’s just a ‘next man up’ mentality.”
Carthage is led on offense by senior quarterback Gunner Capps and junior receiver Kelvontay Dixon.
Capps, with 2,062 passing yards and 25 touchdowns this year, was last year’s 4A Division I state championship game Offensive MVP. Dixon has 769 yards receiving, 180 yards rushing, and a total of 11 touchdowns.
“Gunner’s our leader, he was the most valuable player in last year's state championship game, and he threw 49 touchdowns last year,” Surratt said. “Kelvontay Dixon is our playmaker. Whether we fake it to him, throw it to him, or hand it to him, he draws a lot of attention.
“When you look at our offense you gotta look at our front five, those guys up front are really good and they’re getting better every game. Coach Clint Endsley has done a good job with them, and we’re expecting big things as long as those guys continue to play well.”
The Carthage Bulldogs (9-0, 4-0) play their final game of the regular season at home Friday night against Kilgore (3-6, 2-2). Carthage can clinch back-to-back 10-0 regular seasons for the first time in school history with a win over Kilgore.
“When you turn the tape on for Kilgore the first thing you think is ‘very dangerous,’” Surratt said. “They’re very talented, they’re very, very big, so they could pose some problems, there’s no question. They’ve struggled at times this year and sometimes they’re really good. We expect them to be good and they always play very good against us and so we better play well or we’ll probably be 9-1.”