Pleasant Grove: 5-0
Time: 7:30 p.m., tonight
Stadium: Hawk Stadium, Texarkana
Carthage: Scott Surratt (13th season; 153-28)
Pleasant Grove: Josh Gibson (6th season; 54-20)
Last week: Carthage was idle; Pleasant Grove 63, Chapel Hill 21
Up next: Carthage at Van; Pleasant Grove at Pittsburg
WHEN CARTHAGE HAS THE BALL
Players to watch
Carthage: OL Tykiest Crawford ... OL Cade Johnson ... OL Conner Davis ... OL Karston Williams ... OL Tee Kellum ... QB Kai Horton (70-112-2, 919 yards, 14 TDs) ... WR Kelvontay Dixon (19 catches, 288 yards, 7 TDs) ... RB Mason Courtney (53 carries, 349 yards, 5 TDs; 14 catches, 128 yards) ... WR Craig McNew (8 catches, 196 yards, 3 TDs) ... WR Montrell Smith (9 catches, 130 yards, TD) ... WR Braeden Wade (14 catches, 105 yards)
Pleasant Grove: DL Landon Jackson (40 tackles, 16 TFL, 10 sacks, 3 FF, 2 PBU) ... DL Marcus Burris (30 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 TFL) ... LB Nick Martin (50 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 5 FF) ... LB Dylan Hopkins (46 rackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) ... DL Cameron Weekly (33 tackles, 7 TFL) ... DL Torey Phillips (41 tackles, 3 TFL) ... DB Sergio Rodriguez (2 INTs)
Keys: Hold on up front. It would be tough to find a battle in any area on any field than what is coming in this one between Pleasant Grove’s absolutely-loaded defensive front against Carthage’s formidable offensive line. Jackson, a highly-coveted 5-star prospect, leads a Hawk defensive line that has 21 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks combined this season. In total, the Pleasant Grove defense has 47.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks on the season. Carthage has stayed balanced this season with 919 passing yards and 716 rushing yards this season and doing so to keep the Hawks off balanced will serve well. Quick strikes from Horton to a stable of receivers will be key and if Carthage can’t win some battles up front, quick might not be fast enough.
WHEN PLEASANT GROVE HAS THE BALL
Players to watch
Carthage: LB Ravon Ingram (35 tackles, 3 TFL, PBU) ... DL Quan Brown (22 tackles, 6 TFL, sack, PBU) ... DL Quinton Owens (21 tackles, 3 TFL, FF, PBU) ... DL DJ Hicks (19 tackles, 3 TFL, INT, sack) ... DB De’Aundre Bowman (5 PBU) ... S Cole Whitlock (23 tackles)
Pleasant Grove: OL Colton Stanfill ... OL Jordan Stuart ... QB Ben Harmon (26-50-1, 563 yards, 11 TDs; 40 carries, 245 yards, 3 TDs) ... WB Bruce Garrett (71 carries, 512 yards, 6 TDs; 7 catches 107 yards, 3 TDs) ... WR Sergio Rodriguez (10 catches, 279 yards, 5 TDs) ... WB Logan Johnson (28 carries, 240 yards, 3 TDs)
Keys: Pleasant Grove’s defensive line draws attention but the Bulldog front is stacked as well with veterans Brown, Owens and Hicks leading the way. It’s no secret what the Hawks do offensively with 1,737 rushing yards this season and the passing game from Pleasant Grove is more than lethal and efficient enough to keep any defense honest with a 21.7 yards-per-catch mark. Maintaining leverage, not over-pursuing and staying patient will bode well for the Carthage defense, which has limited opponents to a paltry 2.2 yards per carry mark this season. Pleasant Grove, meanwhile, is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
Did you know: Carthage is ranked No. 2 in Class 4A, Division I ... Pleasant Grove is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, Division II ... Carthage won the 2018 meeting, 28-21 ... Pleasant Grove is averaging 43.6 points and 468.4 yards (347.4 rushing/121 passing) per game against opponents with a combined 15-9 record. The Hawks are allowing 12.2 points per game ... Carthage is averaging 39.8 points and 442.5 yards (179 rushing/263.5 passing) per game against opponents with a combined 5-13 record. The Bulldogs are allowing seven points and 136.5 yards (46.5 rushing/90 passing) per game ... Both teams begin district action next week
Twitter-sized preview: Nothing like an all-out war to get ready for district. That’s what is in store between these two teams. Both have formidable defenses so whichever team can sustain some drives and avoid miscues on offense will head into their respective districts and divisions on a high note.