East Texas’ two most successful gridiron programs are among a half-dozen locals left standing heading into fourth-round play of the Texas high school football playoffs.
The journey to state supremacy reaches the regional finals this weekend and East Texas is well represented with Carthage, Gilmer, Pleasant Grove, Gladewater, Daingerfield and Paul Pewitt still challenging for a coveted golden football to put in the trophy case.
Carthage and Daingerfield rank as East Texas blue bloods. Both schools have scaled the mountaintop no less than six times each. Carthage has been the area standard bearer for this past decade, winning titles in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2017.
All titles were won under coach Scott Surratt.
Daingerfield, meanwhile, corralled its first crown under Bill Lane in 1968, followed by championships in 1983 and 1985 under Dennis Alexander.
The last three came in succession under Barry Bowman in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Gilmer has the hat trick with championships in 2004, 2009 and 2014 all under Jeff Traylor, while Paul Pewitt won in 1998 under Ronnie Bickham and Pleasant Grove in 2017 with Josh Gibson at the helm.
Gladewater is the only remaining area participant without a state title.
This week’s menu should whet the appetite of any die-hard fan. There’s a couple rematches on the agenda with Pleasant Grove (12-1) and Gilmer (10-3) meeting at Lobo Stadium on Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
PG, top-ranked in the state among DII 4A schools, defeated Gilmer 37-24 back on Oct. 18. The sixth-ranked Buckeyes, true to form, seem to hit their stride once the playoffs commence.
The other sequel on tap has Daingerfield (11-2) facing Paul Pewitt (12-1) on Friday at Mount Pleasant’s Sam Parker Field beginning at 7:30 p.m. Daingerfield handed Pewitt its only loss of the season, 42-38, on Nov. 1.
Surratt’s 4A DI second-ranked Bulldogs (13-0) are hoping to continue their quest for a seventh crown in 12 years when they face the somewhat surprising Jaguars from Midlothian Heritage (9-4).
Jacksonville’s venerable Tomato Bowl serves as the backdrop to the Friday start (7:30 p.m.)
Rounding out the field, John Berry’s Gladewater Bears (10-3) face off against Class 3A’s No. 7 ranked team in the undefeated Pottsboro Cardinals (13-0).
Pottsboro is in the postseason for the 10th straight year. This marks Gladewater’s second straight advancement to the regional finals.
The game is slated for Sulphur Springs’ Gerald Prim Stadium on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Take your pick. It’s quite an impressive smorgasboard.