Breaking down tonight’s game, 8 pm Memorial Stadium

[singlepic=380,320,240,,left] There is one team left in the state who can beat Independence this season and that’s Butler. The Bulldogs have the talent to hang with the Patriots, but you don’t beat a Tom Knotts team with talent alone. It will take execution on the field. In the previous match up between these two teams, the Patriots out-executed the Bulldogs for a decisive 41-31 win.

The Patriots crisply run offense begins and ends with Anthony Carrothers. The junior quarterback either passes or runs —usually very successfully—on about 80 percent of Independence’s plays. He is the sole reason they have been as dominant as any team in the state this season. Knotts said Carrothers’ play in the last meeting between the Independence and Butler “was not one of his best.”

He passed for 256 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns. All this against one of the top defenses in the state.

Carrothers has proven he can’t be contained and is the MVP of the state this season.

Butler’s best shot at winning is to execute on offense and try to out-score the Patriots. [singlepic=59,320,240,,right]The Bulldogs have posted 59 points in its first two playoff games, and have averaged more than 30 points for the season. But coach Mike Newsome has said repeatedly this season that some of that scoring has come from his stout defense giving the Bulldogs short fields or scoring on turnovers.

The Patriots know how to shut the Bulldogs down: load up on the defensive line and stop the running game. Bulldog’s quarterback Christian LeMay has managed games well this season, but if the Bulldogs can’t run the ball, he will have a tough time carrying the team on his back.

Whoever wins tonight it may be for the state title. Both teams have cruised through difficult scedules and it’s hard to imagine Indepdnence or Butler losing to another team in the state. Then again, if the game is as hard hitting as the last one, who knows what kind of injuries they will have to deal with for the next two games of the playoffs.

PHOTOS Mark Sward