Independence comes up short against Butler in the battle for the King of the Hill trophy

RJ Baker dives for extra yards in the first half of Friday's game. (Photo by Mark Sward at

Independence played a solid game on offense and defence against one of the best teams in the state, but it wasn’t enough Friday as cross-town rival Butler retained the King of the Hill trophy, winning 38-26.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season 9-1 and first place in the Southwest 4A, while the Patriots dropped to 9-2 and third place in the conference. Ardrey Kell took second place in the conference.
In front of a nearly sold out home crowd, the Patriots would rally in the second half, pulling with four points on an R.J. Baker four yard touchdown run.
Butler would come right back on its only meaningful possession of the fourth quarter, driving 80 yards for the touchdown. Josh Glisson ran the ball nine times on the drive, busting into the end zone on a one-yard carry to give the Bulldogs a 38-26 lead.
Butler’s other touchdown of the second half was the result of an interception by Channing Stribling. The referees were unsure if the ball had hit the ground before Stribling snagged it, but after a discussion, awarded the Bulldogs a touchdown. Others saw it differently.

“The ball hit the ground for a touchdown, otherwise we might win the game,” Head Coach Bill Geiler.
It was the last few minutes of the first half that may have actually decided the game. Independence led for most of the second quarter, as quarterback Evan Guest hit both Dequan Barnes and Austin Duke for touchdowns. However, Butler would score twice in the closing minutes of the half to take a 24-14 halftime lead.
“We had a lot of three and outs and made them punt,” Geiler said. “But we didn’t stop them at the end of the first half.”
Guest would finish the game with 245 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions. Duke had 85 yards receiving and a touchdown, and Isaah Robinson, RJ Baker and DeQuan Barnes each scored a touchdown.
“I feel pretty confident about our offense,” Duke said. “We’re starting to get a balanced attack, but overall we need to work on our performance.”
Duke added a 60 yard kick off return, but two plays later Guest was intercepted. The Bulldogs would score a touchdown off the turnover to end the first half.
Butler quarterback Riley Ferguson threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns and a couple of interceptions. His brother Zach had 10 receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. Glisson added 110 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“No. 11 (Zach) is a great athlete and their QB (Riley) is a great athlete and they are well coached,” Geiler said.
Butler’s win makes it the fourth win in five regular season games against the Patriots. Last year’s game was a stunning 61-6 victory for the Bulldogs over the Patriots. With the playoffs starting next week, however, regular seasons are forgotten and the real games begin.
“My kids played hard,” Geiler said of Friday’s game. “Butler is a good football team. But my guys are good too. We’re going to be ready for the playoffs.”

Game notes:

  • For the second night in a row, Independence fans were baffled by several calls by the referees. At Thursday’s JV game, a Butler touchdown near the end of the game gave the Bulldogs a 22-20 win. However, some on the Independence side said the runner was two yards short of the goal line. In Friday’s game, an interception by Channing Stribling looked like it might have hit the ground first. The touchdown put the game nearly out of reach for the Patriots. Another Butler interception in the first half near the Independence sideline looked as though the Butler defender may have made the catch out of bounds.
  • Independence students discovered the Vuvuzela, the plastic horns used by fans at the last World Cup in South Africa. The noise was so loud it was difficult to hear the public address announcer, or even the person next to you.
  • A steady rain in the second half didn’t deter fans. The stadium remained packed to the end. Even some photographers braved the cold rain and remained until the end.
7 comments on “Independence comes up short against Butler in the battle for the King of the Hill trophy
  1. In reference to your game notes. Go to WSOC.COM and you will CLEARLY see that the player was out of bounds when he caught the ball and the ball DID hit the ground with the referee right there. WSOC, WBTV, WCNC and even Langston the biggest Butler bandwagoner said the ball hit the ground on the 11:15 news but was to scared to write it in Sat’s paper.

    Yes, Indy should have scored when they had the ball but the referees had a big part in the outcome of this game. The refee called a late hit 25 yards away but couldn’t see the ball hit the ground right in front of him.

  2. I am underwhelmed by the Head Coach of the team saying that a turnover for points in the first half was the determining factor of the game! What,,,, are you kidding me?????? You had an entire second half to play and you couldn’t get it done in that half either and you blame it on one play in the first half? Wow, something I might expect from a Pop Warner Mom, but a Head Football Coach of 7 time state championship high school team??? Wow!!! Way to show your players how to react to a bad break. What about all those calls that went your way when you won your championships. I never heard any of the coaches say “wow, we had some breaks go our way tonight”. Sounds extremely immature and not very becoming of a head coach!

  3. Why can’t anyone get that kids name and number right !!! It was — #6 Malachi Hanes —who got the interception NOT Stribbling.!!!! I know they are both tall, dark skinned black teenagers, but they are not the same people. All good reporters have to do is LOOK AT THEIR NUMBERS!!!!!

  4. Could not agree more with “unbiased”! Classless comment from Geiler, glad my son doesn’t play for him! Beat the other team on the field and you don’t worry about a call here or there. They couldn’t do it and they didn’t get the win. It’s that simple, stop making excuses!!

    Could not disagree more with “minthillnative”. I watched all those clips and you really can’t tell if the tip of the ball was on the ground or not, what is clear is whether it was or not, his hands were clearly on both sides of the ball and fingers clasped tightly on the ball. HE CAUGHT THE BALL!!!! Even if the tip did touch the ground he caught the ball. There was no “rebound” up into his hands, there was no bobble, he caught the ball and perhaps in the act of catching it the tip of the ball the top of the grass.

    I don’t know the other coach well but I am sure if they called it incomplete, the first thing out of his mouth at the end of the game would not have been, “awww that call beat us”!

  5. To Charlotte Sports Fan

    Don’t know what clip you were watching but go to WSOC and watch the clip at the 1:12 timer mark and you WILL SEE the BALL HIT THE GROUND. Tiffany Wright on WSOC even replays the play and stops the film and the ball is on the ground.

    That play is not what lost the game but as I said before IT DID change the game.

    So after you watch the clip I will look for your comment admitting you were wrong. Tough pill to take but take it and man/woman up.

  6. Minthillnative, you can’t tell what that blurry, grainy video shows conclusively, and I never said it wasn’t close. However the point was the whining your coach did after the game. He made no such whining comment last night when the E. Forsyth kid was CLEARLY interfered with on a critical pass play along with several other horrid calls. That too arguably changed the game. I didn’t hear Geiler talk about that call or any other post game. Shows me what kind of man he is and what he is teaching his kids. Excuses, excuses when you lose, hard work and effort when you win. Again, glad my kid isn’t playing for him because you shouldn’t be full of excuses. He had an entire second half to turn it around last week and he couldn’t get it done, period! He’s got his second chance now. There will be no excuses this time around.

  7. No excuses this week for Indy! They got dominated from start to finish, even in the third quarter when that game was long over and they began to throw cheap shots after the whistle. Geiler continued to scream at officials and act like an ass on the sidelines. Then is his classless, disgraceful, and embarrassing display of poor sportsmanship refused to shake the Butler boy’s hands while the Butler coaches went through the line and shook every one of the Indy kids hands. Again, truly glad my son doesn’t play for that man; he ought to be ashamed of himself. Can’t wait to hear his excuses for this one! Good luck Butler, you will need it in two weeks. You continue to make mental errors, silly turnovers, and idiotic penalties; you will be home on the couch watching the state final. You might be able to pull ones out with that type of against the likes of Hoke County and Indy but that dog won’t hunt against Paige and MC

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