La Vega (14-0) vs. Carthage (14-0)
Round: Class 4A Division I state semifinals
When/where: 7 p.m. Friday at the Ford Center, Frisco
Playoff road: La Vega defeated Fredericksburg, 47-23; defeated Kingsville King, 54-7; defeated Comal Canyon Lake, 33-14; defeated Liberty Hill, 28-18. Carthage defeated Huffman-Hargrave, 46-10; defeated Brazosport, 45-21; defeated Silsbee, 64-36; defeated Henderson, 35-0.
Players to watch: La Vega RB John Richards; La Vega RB Kemoche Hobbs; La Vega DB Donta Stuart; Carthage RB Keontay Ingram; Carthage SS Mekhi Colbert
Breakdown: Asked what pops off the film about top-ranked Carthage, La Vega coach Willie Williams didn’t have to think about his answer.
“Speed,” he said. “We’re used to people chasing us. This week we’re going to be chasing them.”
The Bulldogs’ chief greyhound when it comes to running the ball is senior Keontay Ingram, a University of Texas commit who tallied 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Carthage’s shutout win over Henderson last week. Ingram picked up steam as the game progressed, gaining 83 of those yards after halftime.
La Vega’s defense hasn’t buckled against whatever competition it has faced this year. Nobody has scored more than 23 points against the Pirates. Last week against Liberty Hill, La Vega yielded only two first downs in the first half.
Williams expects a monster challenge from Carthage, which stuffed Henderson last week, allowing only 250 total yards and forcing four turnovers. No matter, though. La Vega is still going to be La Vega, Williams said. That means pounding the ball behind its rugged offensive line and trusting the defense to limit Carthage’s big plays.
“They’ve got a heck of a running back, some excellent receivers,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a big chore, but one thing about our kids, we never back down. We fully expect to go in and win the ball game.”
— By BRICE CHERRY