Independence Moves to 6-1 with Blowout at Providence

The Mint Hill TimesThe Independence Patriots football team cruised to a 62-10 victory over the Providence Panthers last Friday night. Quarterback Evan Guest threw for over 200 yards with three touchdowns in roughly three quarters of work. He also ran in a score himself.
Austin Duke caught two touchdown receptions, giving him a total of 15 scores on the season. RJ Baker’s two rushing touchdowns in the first half set the tone for Indy’s offense and opened up a lot of opportunities in the passing game. Baker felt the team needed to make a statement after the tough loss to Ardrey Kell the previous week. Continue reading


Independence Comes Up Short in Thriller

The Independence Patriots Football team dropped a physical game to conference foe Ardrey Kell 23-21 last Friday.  After averaging 45 points a game in the first five contests, Indy’s offense had trouble finding any kind of rhythm against the tough Knight defensive front. 

Quarterback Evan Guest hit 20 of 49 passes, throwing for 289 yards and two touchdowns.  It’s the 65-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Dequan Barnes in the fourth quarter that was taken off the board, however, that gave the Patriots their first loss of the season.  After Barnes crossed the goal line the officials huddled at midfield and then dropped a flag for an “illegal shift” penalty on Independence.  It was the first and only illegal shift penalty called against either team the entire game. 

Obviously many Patriot players, coaches , and fans had sour feelings after the loss.  Head Coach Bill Geiler may have said the most poignant remarks to move his team forward after the dismaying setback.

“If we score more than 21 points, we don’t have to worry about the officiating.”

 Ardrey Kell’s running back Quay Gilmore was almost unstoppable in the contest, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns. 

The Patriots will need to improve their special teams unit in order to compete in the competitive Southwestern 4A Conference.  Their punt team gave up a safety on a blocked punt, and had a punt returned for a touchdown.  Getting their offense back  in a rhythm and staying on the field will be the best remedy for this team right now, and will eliminate the special team’s woes altogether. 

Austin Duke was in his usual form on Friday.  He caught ten passes for over a hundred yards.  His two touchdowns puts him at 13 scores for the season.

Defensive end Brandon Jackson recorded three sacks, and T’shun Byers had six tackles to help shut down the Knights in the fourth quarter.  It wasn’t enough, though, as Ardrey Kell held on for the win.

Many young players might hang their heads after suffering a bitter defeat, especially when some questionable officiating calls seem  to have cost them the game.  Hopefully the Indy players know that an injustice happening to you can become a small thing if your response to it is a noble one.

We’ll see how this Patriot team responds on Friday night at Providence.


Mint Hill Area High School Football Previews

Ardrey Kell Knights
2-2 (1-0, Southwestern 4A Conference)
Independence Patriots
5-0 (1-0, I-Meck Conf.)
Patriot Stadium in Mint Hill
Friday at 7pm

Independence’s ‘Season of Redemption’ continues this Friday as the Patriots host Ardrey Kell.  It’s the Knights who will be seeking revenge in this contest as the Patriots spoiled Ardrey Kell’s homecoming game last season with a 51-30 beat-down.
This contest will be a test for Indy’s vaunted offense, as Ardrey Kell’s defense has been giving up an average of 22 points per game this season.  That is well below the Patriots’ scoring average of 45 points per game.
Independence will need to game-plan plays away from the Knights’ defensive end Romeo Okwara.  The senior is ranked at number 65 in the state recruiting class and has committed to Notre Dame next season.
The Patriots offensive line has been excellent all season, but Friday night’s test could be their biggest yet.

Also on Friday…

Butler Bulldogs
3-1 (1-0, Southwestern 4A Conference)
Rocky River Ravens
2-3 (0-1, I-Meck Conf.)
“The Rock” in Mint Hill
Friday at 7pm

Head Coach Brian Hales has Butler looking as dominating as last year’s version, if not more so.  After dropping a heart-breaker on the road to the number one ranked team in the state, the Bulldogs seem to be taking it out on the remainder of their schedule.  No one needs to be reminded that this team is still the two-time defending state 4AA champion.
Quarterback Riley Ferguson is ranked as the fourth best recruit in the state according to MaxPreps, and he’s only a junior.
Butler put 77 on the scoreboard last week against Myers Park, a team that had only been giving up 15 points per game in their previous four contests.  It looks as if the entire Southwestern 4A Conference will be lining up for their annual Butler smack-down.
Next up on the list is Rocky River.   The Ravens are definitely not the team they were last season.  They are vastly improved on both sides of the ball, and have already notched two wins.
The game against Butler will be a good chance for the Ravens’ players to garner some needed experience against a local powerhouse.
One other thing for sure, as Butler will take the win in this game, the Ravens fans will still fill the stadium at “The Rock” and be extremely vocal for their team.  Rocky River’s players are never short on support from their coaches, fans, and family.
Follow all local sports on Twitter at @JJamisonMHTimes


Independence Shuts Out East Meck

The Independence High School football team defeated East Meck 49-0 Friday night.  The win improves Indy’s record to 5-0 on the season.

Quarterback Evan Guest threw for over 250 yards with five touchdowns.  Guest also rushed for two scores.

“We had plays called for me to pull the ball and run if it was open,” said Guest.  “I saw some opportunities and I took advantage of them.  All the credit goes to my teammates and coaches.  We had a great week of practice, and all that goes into what we do on Friday night.”

Dequan Barnes and Austin Duke each scored twice on receptions from Guest.

Credit the Indy defense and special teams units for the team’s first shutout of the season.  The Patriots recovered three fumbles and blocked a field goal attempt.  Jack Tocho picked off an Eagles’ pass to end one of East Meck’s offensive drives.

Independence’s coaches and players certainly did their homework this week.  Their offensive and defensive game plans dominated both sides of the ball.

“East Meck’s defense is very aggressive,” said Indy Head Coach Bill Geiler.  “We figured we could let Evan loose a couple of times.  When he could pull it, we let him pull it and run with it.”

Independence hosts Ardrey Kell this Friday.

Follow the Independence Patriots and other local teams and sports on Twitter at @JJamisonMHTimes


Independence Football Improves to 4-0

The Independence Patriots defeated their old rival, West Charlotte, 42-21 on Friday night.  The win finishes up an undefeated non-conference schedule for Indy.

Quarterback Evan Guest threw for 160 yards and three touchdowns.  Guest also ran in two scores of his own behind an offensive line that dominated the Lions all night.

Wide Receiver Austin Duke scored four touchdowns in the game, three receiving and one on a 92-yard kickoff return.  Duke, “The Touchdown Machine”, now has nine scores this season.

The two-back tandem of RJ Baker and Isiah Robinson combined for 28 carries, with each back eclipsing 100 yards rushing.  It was the persistent ground game of Independence that kept the pesky West Charlotte offense off the field for much of the night.

The Patriots will now focus on the upcoming Southwestern 4A Conference schedule.  First up will be the contest at East Meck this coming Friday.  Kickoff is 7:00.

Follow the Independence Patriots football team, as well as other local sports on Twitter at @JJamisonMHTimes