Carthage had been competitive on the football
field through the years, reaching the 1991 Class
4A state championship again College Station
A&M Consolidated, as well as a 4A state semifinal run in 1983, which was the year the Bulldogs
were the only team to score a touchdown on the
legendary ‘ 83 Daingerfield Tigers.
But before Surratt arrived, Carthage could not
quite get over the hump. Since Surratt landed in
Panola County, Carthage is one of the best programs regardless of classification in the state.
The Dawgs have an 88-15 record in his seven
years. That includes a 52-4 district mark with six
district championships and a 30-3 playoff record
with the aforementioned quartet of titles.
Surratt, who played quarterback in high school,
groomed as an assistant coach with stops at Redwater, Little Cypress-Mauriceville, his alma mater
at Linden-Kildare, and briefly in Waxahachie
before Texas High in Texarkana hired him. Surratt
served as offensive coordinator for eight seasons,
including the Tigers’ 2002 4A state championship
season. He also mentored NFL quarterback Ryan
Mallett while at Texas High.
Checking the Carthage record book, it’s easy
to see how Surratt has put the oomph in the Bulldogs’ offense and why there is a waiting list for
the home-side season tickets about this time every year. Add ’em up: seven 2,000-yard passing
seasons, three 2,000-yard rushers, and seven
different 1,000-yard receivers equals. That
equals to six 400-plus point seasons, including
a school-record 721 points last season.
Remember ... the more, the better.
Carthage has had its share of talented players
in quarterbacks Si’Darius Blackshire, Anthony
Morgan and Blake Bogenschutz; running backs
Dwight Smith, Hunter Holland, and Dwight Smith;
and receivers Joe Jones, Trevor Murphy (tight
end), Jalen Claiborne, Cortlyn Ware, Edward Pope,
Terian “Tee” Goree and O’Keeron Rutherford.
Surratt’s philosophy speaks for itself.
“To be very consistent every day. That is
to set your discipline procedures and follow
them,” Surratt said. “The game has to be fun
for the kids, but in the same sense, they have
to be accountable every day.
“When I got the job [his first as a head foot-
ball coach and athletic director], I promised
the superintendent and the [school] board we
would play hard and act right. I promised the
committee that figuring if we could do that the
wins would take care of themselves.”
The bar has certainly been high since the
2008 season, when Carthage, which entered
the season unranked, won 14 of 16 games,
beating Celina 49-37 in the 555th and final
high school playoff game at Texas Stadium.
The Bulldogs have won 11 or more games
five times in Surratt’s seven years, going un-beaten (16-0) in 2009, and 15-1 during the
2013 title season, losing only to Class 4A
Whitehouse, which went 12-1 and was ranked
as high as No. 3 in the state.
“It’s always exciting to start out with a new
group of players. We have a lot of starters to
replace this season,” Surratt said. “To see how
good you can get the group to improve by the
end of the season is always the goal. I don’t put
a lot of stock in the ranking. We’re appreciative
of being there and it says something for our
program, but it doesn’t matter unless you get to
the last game and win it.”
Long-time Carthage play-by-play announcer
Larry Allen spoke highly of the Carthage coach,
referring to Surratt as the “total package.”
“He’s the best high school football coach in
the state,” Allen said. “We’re very fortunate to
have him. He’s not afraid to take a gamble if
he feels it will be successful. Coach Surratt is a
great student of the game. He watches film a lot
and is very meticulous in his preparation of the
With his success have come other oppor-
tunities. Nevertheless, Surratt maintains that
Carthage is where he wants to be.
“I have had several opportunities from bigger
high schools, and a couple of colleges as an
assistant, but I realize how great a job I have
here,” Surratt said. “My wife [Summer] and
children Addison [ 11] and Jett [ 7] love it here.
I’m a country boy. For someone like me and my
family this is a dream job. For right now I’m very
pleased with where I am.”
Coach Scott Surratt
has taken Carthage
to new heights
BY JOE HALE
CARTHAGE HIGH SCHOOL FOOT- ball coach Scott Surratt appreciates the points and wins adage: “The more, the better.” It probably goes
back to his days as an offensive coordinator.
Situated in the northeast corner of the state,
closer to Shreveport than Tyler, Carthage is home
to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, and
since Surratt’s arrival seven years ago, the state’s
most powerful football program in Class 3A (or, for
the sake of realignment, the new Class 4A).
Surratt, 46, grew up about an hour north
of Carthage, playing baseball and football at
Linden-Kildare High School. He attended East
Texas Baptist University in Marshall on a baseball scholarship, knowing if he couldn’t make a
career of playing professional baseball, coaching would be his best option. Coaching it was.