Isiah Robinson returns the opening kickoff.

Friday nights’ game between Independence and the host South Meck Sabres took a while to get action going on either side of the ball. Both teams went scoreless in the first quarter. It was not seconds into the second quarter when, Patriots QB Jason Connella connected with his favorite wide out, Dequan Barnes for an 18 yard touchdown catch. Indy went up first, seven to zero at 11:09 left in the second quarter. About three minutes later, Connella kept the ball and ran it 16 yards for the second score of the night for Indy. The extra point was good, and the Patriots were up 14-0 with 8:08 minutes left in the first half.

Defense makes big plays

Senior Jack Tocho made some big plays in the next possession of the ball by South. Tocho made an open field tackle that prevented the Sabres from scoring and also intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop South as they marched down the field into Indy territory.

Getting looks

Barnes would get one more look from Conella before the end of the half. This time, he caught a five yard TD pass with 19 seconds to go before the half. The extra point was no good but Indy led 20-0 at halftime. It would take Independence almost five minutes before they were able to score in the third quarter. Connella looked Barnes’ way again and threw him a 65-yard TD pass. The score is: Indy 27, South Meck 0. Almost four minutes later the Connella-Barnes duo connected again, this time with 29-yard TD pass in the third quarter. The Patriot defense had two more big plays during the next two possessions of the ball by South. Defensive back Deion Washington saved an open field TD run by bringing down the Sabre ball carrier, stopping him on the Independence 14 yard line. Senior LB Chris Turpin put an end to the Sabre drive when he intercepted a pass.

I want the ball

This play helped set up the next score from Barnes as he caught his fifth TD pass of the night. This time it was a 12-yard pass from Connella.

“I was running my routes precise and making plays for the O. I told Nella ‘I want the ball,’” said Barnes, of his career-high five TD catches in one game. It’s hard to believe that Barnes feels he started off shaky, but he gave credit to Connella for being able to read the coverages from the South defense.

Tocho made one more big play when he intercepted a pass with a little over four minutes in the fourth quarter. He ran it back 86 yards for the score. The extra point was no good, but Indy now had a 47-0 lead. Sabre QB Nakyree Stephens took a hand off, bounced outside for a 44- yard run and made the only score for South during the whole game. Any positive feelings from the Sabre score were quickly dashed as Stephens went down in the end zone after his score. He suffered a neck injury but was able to leave the field on his own. Junior RB Isiah Robinson scored his lone TD of the night not while on offense, but on special teams. He took a kick from South Meck and ran it back 94 yards for the score with almost seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The game would end with a final score of Indy 54, South Meck 7.

Doing more than you need to

Indy coach Bill Geiler has said the same thing all season: “Winning is good but if you do not play mistake-free football, it does not really matter.” Geiler wants his players to always play hard and do more than they need to.

“It is always one thing each time,” says Geiler, that prevents the Patriots from playing mistake free football. Geiler warned his Patriots that “they are entering the rough part of their schedule.” The last three games feature neighboring Rocky River, upset-minded Myers Park, and rival Butler.

This weeks game

Independence (7-1, 4-0 in SW4A) at Rocky River (6-2, 3-1 SW4A) Kickoff 7pm

The Patriots will travel to “The Rock” stadium about a mile away as they square off against the Rocky River Ravens. Both teams know each other quite well. Some of the RR players were once wearing Indy green. The players even eat their pre-game meals at the same restaurant in Mint Hill every Friday. Independence will need to have Robinson score more points when he is offense rather than special teams against the Ravens. Connella will look to Barnes first in the air attack, but will be happy to have 6’3 WR Workpeh Kofa back in the lineup. The defense is led by the secondary unit and will need to be flying around the field making big plays and tackles. Ravens QB Andre Rice will look to his favorite target, Senior WR Brandon Harris. Junior Deron Davis will carry the ball on the ground for the Ravens. The Raven defense will be led by two returning all-Conference DB’s in Sidney Lawson and Lamar Hood.

Tale of the tape

Indy is averaging 43.2 points on offense and giving up 11.7 points per game on defense through eight games. Rocky River offense is averaging 26.3 points per game and giving up 14.3 points on defense. Indy

QB Connella has thrown for 1,127 yards, 14 touchdowns, and three interceptions this year. Rice has seven interceptions, 987 yards, and 11 touchdowns this year for Rocky River. Robinson has run for 901 yards, nine touchdowns and is averaging 7.5 yards per carry, for the Big ‘I’. Raven RB Davis has four touchdowns, averages 5.5 yards per carry and has run for 457 yards on the ground. Indy’s receivers are led by Barnes and Kofa who each have seven TDs. Raven WR Harris has seven TDs as well this season. Senior Patriot LB Josh Walker leads Indy with five sacks. The Ravens are led in sacks by Senior OLB Patrick Farragher with 3.5 on the year. Lamar Hood has three interceptions this year for the Ravens, and Jack Tocho has four for the Patriots this season. Leading each team in tackles is Josh Walker for Independence (40 tackles so far and averages 9.4 per game) and Lamar Hood (41 tackles on the year and averages 8.8 tackles per game).