Surratt in rarified air: 'To win one championship is unbelievable. To win eight is crazy.'

Photo by Thomas Hays

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The Gilmer Buckeyes wasted no time trying to man up with defending state champion Carthage, one of the great dynasties in Texas high school football history. 

The first kickoff was an onside kick. Three plays in, Gilmer called a perfectly-blocked tunnel screen for a long touchdown. The second kickoff was a successful onside kick and Gilmer completed a long pass to the end zone to take a 14-0 lead. 

“We talked about how we weren’t going to try and lose close,” Gilmer coach Alan Metzel said. “We didn’t play know that if you’re just going to come out and play conventional, they’re extremely talented.” 

But despite not trailing all season long, the machine Scott Surratt built at Carthage was unfazed. The Bulldogs put the pedal to the metal and scored 70 straight points to win the 4A Division II state championship and launch Surratt into rarified air. 

The win was Surratt’s unbelievable eighth state championship at Carthage, which gives him the most titles at one school in Texas high school football history. The man he passed? Gordon Wood. After the game, Texas Football’s Greg Tepper declared Surratt the greatest high school football coach ever. 

“It’s got to be one of the top teams to come out of here, if not the top,” Surratt said. “Don’t ever want to compare the eight, but I’m telling you, they’re up there near the top. These seniors haven’t been beat very much, I promise you that.” 

In fact, this Carthage squad has a combined 44-1 record over the past three seasons with the only loss coming to Liberty Hill in the state semifinals in 2018. This team was especially dominant, beating teams by an average of 37.3 points per game. In a year where COVID-19 derailed multiple seasons, the level of consistency is eye-popping.

“It’s just very special,” quarterback Kai Horton said. “He’s the best coach in the state.” 

Perhaps most shockingly, the defense was filled with underclassmen. Defensive back Brandon King won Defensive MVP honors on his birthday by dominating the game with four interceptions and two pick-sixes against future D-I quarterback Brandon Tennison. He’ll be back to help lead Carthage in search of its third straight undefeated season in 2021. However, this team will always be special to King. 

“I think it was the seniors,” King said. “They pushed us hard as underclassmen. Really, they’re a bunch of bullies. We fight almost every day, we argue, but we always come together.” 

While Carthage will have to break in a new quarterback and running back in 2021, the Surratt football machine remains as potent as ever. And after winning eight championships in just 14 years, his march into the record books isn’t close to done. 

“It’s incredible,” Surratt said. “I’ll look back when I get through coaching and it’ll be even more special.

“To win one championship is unbelievable. To win eight is crazy.”


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