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2016 Carthage - 3rd in District of Doom, 1st in State of Texas


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Ten interesting facts:

1.  CHS entered the 2016 season with great expectations, returning 12 starters from the 2015 state semifinalist team.  In addition, there was another big-armed QB ready to replace Second Team All-State Jarod Blissett, the graduated senior starter from the prior year.  Senior Kason Davis, son of Offensive Coordinator Kevin Davis, was a 6-1, dual-threat QB.  Dave Campbell's 2016 Texas Football magazine picked the Bulldogs 3rd in Class 4A Division 1 in its preseason edition.

2.  CHS lost two of its starters before the season opener, as junior LB Ahmad Brown moved to Crockett after his mom took a coaching position there and another starter elected to focus on baseball (eventually at another school).  And by the first week in October, the Bulldogs sat at 0-2 in district play, suffering losses to Henderson and Kilgore.  Even the most die-hard Bulldog fans weren't optimistic about another nice playoff run.

3.  From that low point of early October more than 4 years ago, CHS has a record of 70-1, with 4 state championships in 5 years.

4.  Finishing third in the District of Doom behind rivals Henderson and Kilgore, the Bulldogs' successful playoff run turned out to consist mostly of suspenseful, come-from-behind wins.

5.  In ordwer to escape with a 34-30 win over Silsbee in bi-district, CHS had to drive nearly the length of the field in its two-minute offense immediately after stopping the Tigers in the red-zone for what would have been a game-clinching touchdown.  The winning score came on a last-second pass shortly after what would have been a winning score on a long run by junior RB Keaontay Ingram on a screen pass was called back due to a penalty.

6. The third-round game on the night after Thanksgiving came against district rival Henderson.  The Lions, who won the regular-season game between the two teams 36-28, fell behind in the fourth quarter and immediately abandoned the game plan which had proved so successful in the previous 7-1/2 quarters of play between the two teams - feeding senior RB La'Kendrick Vanzandt (now a starting safety at TCU).  He and CHS's Ingram put on a show that night in Lobo Stadium in a game which saw the Bulldogs avenge the loss in the prior month by a 33-31 score.

7.  Against a talented Stafford team with tremendously speedy athletes at the skill positions, the Bulldogs again had to come from behind in the second half to win the regional championship by a point, 27-26.  On the rainy night in Lufkin, the Spartans missed a potential winning field goal near the end of the game.

8.  The Bulldogs fumbled 4 times in the state semifinal game against China Spring in the Ford Center in Frisco, once in the 1st overtime period. Somehow, CHS overcame their mistakes to win 26-20 in 3 overtimes against the team that had eliminated defending state champion Waco La Vega the week before.  (Waco La Vega had eliminated CHS the prior year in an impressive 39-3 semifinal win.)

9.  In the state championship game, Abilene Wylie went ahead of CHS 14-0 in the first quarter (a situation the red and white Bulldogs recently found themselves in in the same venue while playing for the same stakes).  CHS drew even by halftime and held the West Texas Bulldogs scoreless in the second half to win its 5th state championship in 9 years by a 31-17 score.  The champion Bulldogs forced 6 turnovers in the game, including 5 in the second half.  Senior DL Austin Russell was named the game's Defensive MVP by virtue of recovering 2 fumbles, 1 of which he forced, to go along with a TFL.  RB Ingram was the game's Offensive MVP after scoring 2 touchdowns on 182 rushing yards.

10.  Three junior Bulldogs were named First Team All-State by the Texas Sportswriters Association.  Ingram, who rushed for 2,045 yards during the season with 29 touchdowns, was also named Co-Offensive Player of the Year in Class 4A.  LB Mykel Gates averaged 10 tackles per game in his third year on the varsity (with one then remaining).  DB Mekhi Colbert had 8 interceptions, and was also spectacular as a WR in the postseason after playing mostly defense during the regular season.  Senior OL Tanner Elliott, who played collegiately at Tyler Junior College and SFA, was named Second Team All-State.    

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