Word is spreading in Carthage that Pleasant Grove’s Hawk Stadium seats 3,500.
A thousand of those seats are reserved on the home side, and were sold out before the first game in 2019. Another 1,500 tickets were sold Thursday morning at Pleasant Grove before noon.
It’s destined to be a sellout, and most likely the biggest crowd for a football game to be played in Pleasant Grove. Coach Josh Gibson believes as many as 6,000 to 7,000 can be packed into the facility. Steps are also being taken in regard to the limited parking space at the school.
“It’s crazy, but our administration is doing an unbelieveable job to get ready for this game between two great football programs,” said Gibson. “We’re going to be opening up twelve more restrooms, and another concession stand. We’re trying to do it the right way, taking care of the Carthage fans and ours.
“We’ve never locked the gates and kept fans from seeing the game. Word is we have as many as 4,000 Carthage fans coming to town. In this kind of situation you want to make the game special for the visiting team, just like you do for yours. We also have media and college coaches coming in from everywhere.”
Carthage comes to Texarkana ranked No. 1 in one 4A Division I poll and No. 2 in another. The Hawks are No.1 in all 4A Division II polls.
Two No. 1 teams playing at Hawk Stadium
Gibson boasts there will be two great teams on the field Friday night, and there will still be two great teams on the field after the game.
Surprising to some, Pleasant Grove enters the game as the favorite. Gibson is not sure there is a favorite.
“We’re senior heavy, with some juniors who are very good,” said Gibson. “Carthage has a lot of seniors and good juniors. There seniors were starting as sophomores when they won state in 2017.
“This is a great matchup. Carthage has a favorable edge when you match its receivers with our corners. We have some better units than they do, but it’s such a fine line. A lot of that stuff balances out.”
Consider the talent as being fairly even, too. Carthage has 22 players with college offers to play football. Pleasant Grove also has 22 players with college offers.
Gibson is not shy about bragging on his staff, but it should be obvious he’s got the respect of his peers after turning Pleasant Grove into a football power. Gibson doesn’t hesitate to brag about Carthage coach Scott Surratt.
“Coach Surratt has been successful for so long. Carthage is doing things the right way, and for us to be compared, what a compliment. I do believe our program at this moment and time is at the same place, and that’s a pretty cool place to be.”
So who’s going to win? More than 100 fans from the Northeast Texas region were polled, with half saying Carthage, and half picking Pleasant Grove. However, there will be no tie Friday night.