PREVIEW: Carthage Faces Tough Test Against Liberty Hill
CLASS 4A DIVISION I
No. 1 Carthage Bulldogs (14-0)
Liberty Hill Panthers (12-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Cy-Fair FCU Stadium, Cypress
- Carthage: Scott Surratt
- Liberty Hill: Jeff Walker
- Carthage: def. Henderson, 28-7
- Liberty Hill: def. La Vernia, 35-17
- Winner vs. Decatur or La Vega, 3 p.m. Friday (Dec. 21), AT&T Stadium, Arlington, 4A Division I state championship game
Players to watch
- QB Gunner Capps, Sr., 6-2, 205 (239-of-385, 3,369 yards, 42 TDs, 5 INTs)
- WR Kelvontay Dixon, Jr., 6-0, 173 (78 catches, 1,184 yards, 9 TDs; 22 carries, 217 yards, 3 TDs)
- OL Ty’kieast Crawford, Jr., 6-6, 310 (committed to Baylor)
- WR Kel Williams, Jr., 6-0, 144 (43 catches, 798 yards, 5 TDs)
- RB Mason Courtney, Soph., 5-9, 185 (135 carries, 934 yards, 12 TDs; 7 catches, 108 yards)
- DE Quinton Owens, Jr., 6-3, 200 (71 tackles, 10 for loss, 3 sacks, 12 QB pressures; 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries)
- CB Ja’Corey Ware, Sr., 6-0, 170 (39 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 sack, 7 INTs, 5 PBUs)
- RB Tucker Smith, Sr., 5-11, 180 (153 carries, 1,000 yards, 13 TDs; 36 catches, 514 yards, 7 TDs)
- OL Kevion Booty, Sr., 6-2, 270
- LB Rayvon Ingram, Jr., 5-10, 205 (115 tackles, 17 for loss, 3 sacks, 6 QB pressures, 2 INTs, 4 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 1 defensive TD)
- RB Kyle Harrison, Sr., 5-8 (217 carries, 2,607 yards, 37 TDs; 7 catches, 256 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Shane Gonzalez, Sr., 5-9, 175 (134 carries, 1,072 yards, 13 TDs)
- RB Kristian Taggart, Sr. (70 carries, 677 yards, 10 TDs)
- QB Jacob Clearly, Jr., 6-1, 180 (14-of-30, 415 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs; 63 carries, 582 yards, 15 TDs)
- DL Walker Baty, Jr., 6-5, 251 (48 tackles, 19 for loss, 8 sacks, 1 fumble recovery)
- LB Mason Ogle, Sr. (91 tackles, 18 for loss, 5 sacks, 7 QB hurries)
- DB Brady Brewer, Jr., 5-11, 180 (49 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 INT, 13 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
Just the facts
- Liberty Hill is 1-0 against Carthage, winning 41-14 in 2007.
- Carthage is averaging 439.3 yards per game (250.4 passing and 188.9 rushing).
- Before last week, Carthage quarterback Gunner Capps had thrown for at least 200 yards in every playoff game this season.
- Bulldogs receiver Kelvontay Dixon is averaging 15.2 yards per reception.
- Liberty Hill averages 507.8 yards rushing per game compared to only 31.9 passing.
- Panther running back Kyle Harrison rushed for only 53 yards in the season opener against Glenn. Since then, he has rushed for at least 100 yards in ever game this season.
- The Liberty Hill defense has caused 18 turnovers (12 interceptions and six fumbles) this season.
Key matchup: Liberty Hill rushing attack against the Carthage defense. The Panthers have a one-rack mind on offense, rarely passing. Instead, Liberty Hill averaged more than 500 yards per game with its ground attack. Kyle Harrison leads the way with 2.607 yards and 37 touchdowns. He has rushed for at least 200 yards in each of the Panthers' playoff games. Liberty Hill's second leading rusher is Shane Gonzalez, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. The Panthers also have several player with more than 400 rushing yards.
Carthage's defense is led by linebacker Rayvon Ingram, who has 17 tackles for loss. Quinton Owens will also hope to reach the backfield from the defensive line. Carthage has not seen an offense like this all season. The Bulldogs were tested a couple of weeks ago when Midlothian Heritage took them to overtime, but passed. This will be another big road block for the Bulldogs, but they certainly have what it takes to overcome it.
Don't be surprised if: This one is decided by one score. Carthage has the experience and talent in it to complete its quest for a three-peat in Arlington. However, Liberty Hill has only lost one game this season and appears to have as good a shot as anyone at knocking the Bulldogs off. The running game will be a big factor, but Carthage's passing attack, led by Gunner Capps, should be able to counter. This one will likely come down to the final quarter, with both teams having a fairly equal shot at winning.