It’s been three years since the Carthage Bulldogs hoisted a state championship trophy. That’s an eternity in Bulldog Nation, or, att least in the 21st century it is.
Carthage won three consecutive state championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and tacked on another in 2013. But, only once did the Bulldogs have an undefeated season, when they went 16-0 in 2009.
That means this year’s 13-2 record has some Bulldog fans shrugging their shoulders. However, the way Carthage has won games lately probably makes them want to visit a cardiologist. Carthage has won late-game heart stoppers en route to this week’s 4A Division I state final against Abilene Wylie (12-1).
The Bulldogs didn’t have such close games during their previous state title seasons. Their losses in those title runs were against teams in Class 4A — when Carthage was still in 3A and before the UIL moved most teams up a classification in 2014 with the addition of 6A.
After convincing and impressive wins over Liberty-Eylau, Whitehouse and Gilmer in non-district this season, Carthage lost back-to- back games to Henderson and Kilgore, each by a touchdown. Carthage would get their revenge in the playoffs.
Carthage was the No. 3 seed from District 9-4A Div. I, but defeated district runner-up Henderson in the playoffs one week before taking down Stafford, which knocked district champion Kilgore from the playoffs.
The trek to get back to the state championship wasn’t without excitement and lots of nail biting. Carthage beat Silsbee, 34-30, in the bi-district round. After a 41-6 blowout win over North Forest, Carthage slipped past Henderson (33-31) and Stafford (27-26) before needing three overtimes to defeat China Spring, 26-20, in the state semifinal.
The cardiac kids will need another complete effort to overcome a tough Wylie team that’s peaking at the right time. So is Carthage, which is on a nine-game winning streak.
Carthage has piled up 5,349 yards of offense in a balanced attack. Senior Kason Davis has thrown for 2,887 yards and 29 touchdowns. Keaontay Ingram showed his value in a remarkable 2015 playoff run, and now the junior has 2,045 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. De’Waylon Ingram has 910 receiving yards and eight touchdowns while Dequavius Bowens has 57 receptions for 847 yards and 11 touchdowns.
If a list was made to name the top East Texas teams of this millennium, Carthage would certainly warrant top 5 status — if not No. 1. They can add to their legend with a win on Friday afternoon, and only Wylie stands between the Bulldogs and a new chapter in a book full of history.
Brought to you by: XENITH