ET Football: Carthage getting it done at every level on offense, defense
Dec. 21, 2017 at 4:06 p.m.
CARTHAGE — Jesse Wayne Pierce just smiled describing what it's like when Keaontay Ingram runs right past him.
It happens a lot.
"It's a great feeling when you see him bust through the hole, blow right by you and break it for a long touchdown," Pierce, a senior offensive lineman for the Carthage Bulldogs, said. "He's a special player back there and a great guy."
So that brings up the question: who is making who look good?
"It's a little of both," fellow lineman Nate Brittenham laughed.
Tight end Callahan Badree added: "A lot of the times, he's making us look good. He can hit. We just try to open it up and make it a little bit easier for him."
It's not a question if you ask Ingram, the Texas commit Bulldog back that's regarded as one of the best in the state.
"Oh man, the offensive line has been playing outstanding," Ingram, who recently passed the 5,000-yard mark in his three-year career in Carthage, said. "You see it week to week and they've been making my job easy.
"They pave the way and I do my part in it all."
The front, Pierce, Brittenham, Baldree as well as juniors Callam Barber, JT Romero and Kevion Booty, have paved the way for a Carthage offense that's put up 6,707 total yards — 3,204 on the ground and 3,503 through the air — and averaging 46 points per game.
"Having all five of those guys up there blocking for you, I get a lot of the credit but there's not enough respect or love for those guys," Ingram said. "I wish sometimes I could share it with them. People don't understand how much of a role those guys play.
"They're making me look good, no doubt about it."
With a mix of some experience and new faces that have filled in up front, the Bulldog offensive line has enabled Carthage to get things done both ways, either with Ingram running or junior quarterback Gunner Capps finding weapons like receivers Dee Bowens (1,270 yards, 22 touchdowns), Dewaylon Ingram (1,021 yards, 14 touchdowns) or Mehki Colbert (695 yards, 5 TDs) out wide or down the field.
"They've played great all year," Carthage head coach Scott Surratt said. "You can't do as much as we do or be as versatile as we are on offense, do as many formations, protections and everything without those guys.
"All five of them, and Baldree at tight end, perform well and they're all smart to understand the intricacies of this offense."
With the small details and facets working, the rest is up to them on the offensive line.
"We believe in hard work and getting after it," Pierce said. "We make sure that we do our job so they everyone else has a chance to do theirs."
Added Brittenham: "We just work together as a team, as a unit and get it done. The communication we have and having each others back each play is what sticks out to me."
IT GOES BOTH WAYS
Now, flip it to the Carthage defense.
The first thing you'll see both on the field and on the stat sheet is the linebacker trio of Mykel Gates, Ahmad Brown and Jose DeJulian, who, combined, have 446 tackles, 60 tackles for loss and 10 sacks.
Staggering numbers, no doubt.
But, in front of them, the Bulldog line that features a rotation of Montario Wilson, Darrian Ingram, Quinton Owens, DJ Hicks and Felipe Ponce are getting things down and enabling those behind them to make a play.
"We've got a great defensive line with a lot of guys that can do a lot of things," Brown said. "It goes both ways, we make them look good, they make us look good. It's a team effort."
With a blend of speed and size, the Bulldog defensive line, Wilson said, has a few things in common.
"We're fast up front and we like to scrap," the senior said.
Darrian Ingram added: "We like to bring as much physicality as possible."
Like the Carthage offense, it's a perfect marriage on the defense, which is holding opponents to 3.5 yards per carry and has 38 takeaways on the season.
"We're making them look good," Wilson said of the linebackers. "I'm kidding, we're doing this together.
"Everyone is just doing their job. If we do our job, they're going to do their job and it just carries back. We don't care who makes the plays, it's make one and move on to the next."
Added Darrian Ingram: "It's a next-play mentality, good or bad."
At 15-0 and eyeing its sixth state title since 2008, the Bulldogs feature playmakers at every level, no matter where it starts.
"There's no question, it's all married together and tied together but, as it always does, it starts up front," Surratt said. "Both units are ones that don't receive enough credit but that's part of the territory when you have your hand in the dirt in the trenches."
Carthage meets Kennedale in the Class 4A, Division I state championship at 11 a.m. Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)