LONGVIEW, Texas — It's finally here! The matchup that football fans have been waiting for all year long will happen in the third round of the playoffs.
And these two teams certainly have history.
The Bulldogs won last year's regular season matchup 28-7 at their home field. But their biggest victory occurred in 2020, when these two programs met in Arlington for the Texas State Championship game. The Buckeyes took an early 14-0 lead before Carthage put up 70 unanswered points to steamroll their way to coach Scott Surratt's 7th state championship.
As always, Surratt knows that the Buckeyes will present a major challenge in their road to another ring. For the Bulldogs, that just provides extra motivation.
"It's going to be the biggest test for sure. We had our meeting on Monday and we said, this is Gilmer, let's turn it up," Surratt said. "We know it's the biggest game of the year so far. It's next level for us and we have to prepare and turn up our level."
The Gilmer Buckeyes are no stranger to success either. They're back-to-back state finalists, but both appearances ended in losing fashion. This year, they're hoping that the third time can be a charm. However, they know that their opponent Friday night presents their biggest obstacle so far.
Gilmer head coach Alan Metzel is well acquainted with Surratt and his Bulldogs. He had nothing but praise for the Carthage squad, and he knows that both teams will have to play a near perfect game to emerge victorious.
Metzel mentioned that there's many players who have been part of the two state final runs, which brings valuable playoff experience to the game.
"We have those guys that know what it's like to play in these big games and it doesn't threaten them. They're excited for this matchup," Metzel said. "When they put the realignment last February, we recognized where they were aligned and when we might match up with them. We both took care of business, and now here we are. So, I'm excited for the game."
Once the smoke clears and the final whistle blows at Longview's Lobo Stadium, one team will remain standing to move on to the next round. The question: Which one of these historic East Texas programs will be keeping their season alive come Friday night?