Last Friday night, two teams about six miles apart met in the second round of the NCHSAA 4AA playoffs: Butler and Independence. It was a home game for Butler, but since their stadium can’t hold the expected numbers, the game was at Memorial Stadium in Charlotte.
This was the second time in three weeks that these two teams met, the first time being to decide the winner of the SW4A regular season conference. Butler came out on top during the first meeting, and Indy was hoping to change the outcome this time.
The Patriots won the toss but deferred to Butler. Both offenses struggled during their first possession of the ball. On the third play, Butler All-American QB Riley Ferguson threw an interception to Patriot DB Deion Washington. Patriot QB Kelvin Hopkins got Independence into Butler territory but threw an interception to Butler DB Channing Stribling. Stribling was the difference in this game as he had two TD receptions (31, 66), an interception returned 82 yards for a TD, and 77-yard kick return for a Butler score. Butler DB David More had the other INT (56 yards) for Butler. Bulldog RB Josh Glisson had a four-yard TD run, HB Kameron Billings ran 34 yards for a Butler score, and WR teammate Cadarius Harrison caught a 53-yard pass to round out the scoring attack for Butler.
Hopkins struggled most of the night due to a fast blitzing Butler defense. The bulldog defense picked off four passes (two for TDs) and sacked Hopkins all night long. The Indy attack was led by Dequan Barnes who had three TD catches (25, 7, and 19), and Jason Connella caught a two-yard pass for a score. The game came to an end with a final score of Butler 55 Independence 26.
2013 year of the Patriot
Although Independence’s season came to an end, they did some amazing things against a Butler team ranked top 10 in the country. During their first meeting, Independence tied for most points Butler has given up all year, and in this last game they were able to score more points than anyone else could all season. Butler will graduate 33 seniors from their team this year, including two All-Americans. Independence, however, has a young team and will be back in the hunt next year. Hopkins, RB Isaih Robinson, a talented group of wide receivers, and a young defense of mostly sophomores will all be back next year in green and gold.
Independence was hindered by not having the heart and soul of the defense, Jack Tocho, able to play during the Butler playoff loss. Once Butler realized the youth and inexperience in the Patriot secondary, they pounced. Indy also missed the play of breakout sophomore Adonis Alexander in the secondary as well.
Geiler hangs his whistle for now
When Independence coach Bill Geiler and his coaches met this summer, they were scratching their heads how they would win more than five games this year. After all, this was the same group of upperclassmen that went 3-8 as sophomores.
“10-3 ain’t bad, not where you wanted to finish. Great bunch of kids, real young. Next year, we will be loaded.” Geiler hopes that his younger players “can learn from this class of seniors about how to carry them- selves in the classroom, on the field, and around town.”
After the game, Tocho was visibly upset because he did not get to play at all in what was his last high school game.
“That ought to bother you if it does not, then you are not a football player,” said Geiler of his captain and leader of the team dealing with the emotions of losing and not being able to do anything about it. This was Geiler’s last game at Independence, and he hopes someone will “hire an old guy.” Geiler looks to spend time with his wife, grandchildren, and on the golf course until he picks up his coach’s whistle again. After the game, you could hear the Indy faithful chant “We love Geiler.” Whatever team, public or private, North or South Carolina gets Geiler, they will be lucky.