There's certainly no love lost when Highway 79 rivals Henderson and Carthage get together. For years, it's been among East Texas' most intense rivalries.

The long-standing feud is renewed once again on Sept. 30 when the Lions travel to Carthage in District 9-4A Division I action.

It checks in at No. 1 on's list of the top 25 games of 2016.

Not only is there a long history between Henderson and Carthage. Big stakes could be on the line when the two match up this season.

Henderson WR/DB Trestan Ebner. (Rob Graham,
Henderson WR/DB Trestan Ebner. (Rob Graham,

Henderson returns 13 starters from last year's 7-3 squad. Although the Lions were kept out of the playoffs because of district tie-breaking rules, Henderson knocked off eventual league champion Kilgore in the regular-season finale.

So the Lions were certainly good enough to get there. They were just a casualty in the always competitive "District of Doom."

Among the standouts head coach Phil Castles has returning are a couple of two-way standouts, who've already committed to TCU in Trestan Ebner and Lakendrick VanZandt.

Henderson also welcomes back strong athletes like Matthew Childers and Trae Hall, who both saw time at quarterback a year ago, as well as two-way performer Tariq Gray.

Carthage reached the Class 4A Division I state semifinals in 2015, falling to eventual state champion Waco La Vega.

The Bulldogs bring back a dozen starters from last year's group, including a talented junior running back in Keaontay Ingram, who emerged during Carthage's playoff run a season ago. And he'll run behind a strong offensive line anchored by senior Tanner Elliott.

Defensively, Carthage is strong at all three levels with defensive end Tre Gatlin, linebacker Mykel Gates, and defensive backs Mekhi Colbert and Nic Moore back in the mix.’s Top 25 Games of 2016

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