Independence outlasts Rocky River in Mint Hill football showdown

The Independence Patriots and the Rocky River Ravens faced off on Friday for an important 4A Southwestern Conference game. The Patriots came into the game with an overall record of 7-1 and 4-0 in conference. The home-standing Ravens were 6-2 and 3-1. Both teams appear headed for the playoffs, and this game would play a part in future playoff match ups.

This game was a back and forth affair between two evenly matched teams.

Independence kicked off and the game was on. After a first down, Ravens senior quarterback Andre Rice attempted his first pass. The pass was promptly picked off by the Patriots’ sophomore defensive back Cordell McMurray who returned it to the Rocky River 33 yard line.

The Patriots wasted no time taking advantage of the sudden change of possession. On the first play senior quarterback Jason Connella connected with wide receiver Jamar Jenkins, only a sophomore, on a deep pass down the right sideline for a gain of 29 yards.

From four yards out, the Patriots were able to pound the ball into the end zone. Connella scored the touchdown on a quarterback sneak. The extra point was blocked but the Patriots led early 6-0. The teams exchanged punts until the Ravens offense exploded. After a first down, senior running back James House burst through a big hole on the left side and juked his way through the Patriots’ secondary for a 41 yard touchdown run. The extra point was missed and the game was tied 6-6.

The excitement in the first quarter was far from over. After the Ravens’ kickoff, Connella hit Patriots’ senior wide receiver Dequan Barnes on a 65-yard bomb. Barnes had gotten wide open behind the Ravens’ secondary and Connella hit him in stride for the score.

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Independence students compete to feed the hungry

This fall, the Academy of International Studies at Independence High School is competing to feed the hungry.

The competition is the Student Hunger Drive of the Carolinas, a competition among more than 20 schools to donate food to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

This is Independence’s first year competing in the hunger drive, which started in 2010 with 12 schools, but has since grown, serving Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Lancaster, and surrounding counties.

Syndie Fleener is director of AIS at Independence, a school within a school that focuses on global education, a part of that being community service and this year, the hunger drive.

“This whole hunger drive is so fantastic,” Fleener said. “To see these teenagers get so involved in this.”

The school that donates the most will receive $2,500, and the runner-up $1,000. Other awards are given for most improved and student MVP, and each school that donates 5,000 pounds is given a $200 cash prize.

To date, the competition has donated 150,000 pounds of food in its two-year history, and last year, Ardrey Kell won the competition, donating 18,000 pounds. The competition kicked off with a talent show at Second Harvest, with hundreds of students attending and watching the other schools perform.

“It was fantastic to see hundreds of kids at the Second Harvest Food Bank—teenagers you know, really caring about the community,” Fleener said.

The competition lasts until November 14, when all the food will be weighed, and the winners announced. To date, Fleener says Independence hasn’t weighed their donations, but they’ve got 10 boxes of food, and the barrels that they use for donating are already full again.

“The kids have been wonderful,” Fleener said. “They’ve gone out into their communities and asked for donations—we have gotten so many donations. So far, it’s been really a big success.”

To donate, bring food to Independence High School anytime, preferably canned goods, or send the food in with a student.

To stay up to date on the hunger drive, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hungerdrivecarolina.

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Barnes acts as ‘home wrecker’ during Homecoming game

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.

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Independence DREAM Team to restore neglected trophies

The bomb shelter at Independence High School, now home to hundreds of Big “I” trophies. PHOTOS BY DEREK LACEY

Each year, Noel Hamrick takes her US History class to see the old bomb shelter at Independence High School, leading them out a side door, through a chain link fence, down concrete stairs, and through a hot boiler room.

But the thing most students take away from the trip is not the impact of Cold War tensions, it’s the hundreds of Big “I” trophies stored on rusted shelves in the dank, flood-prone room.

Dating from 1967, the trophies include academic and athletic achievements, everything from small wooden plaques and certificates to huge three-tiered trophies.

“Wow. That’s probably the best word I could use to describe it,” said Ivan Blair, senior at Independence. “It was devastating, I guess you could say…I didn’t know that we had that many trophies, and I definitely didn’t know that they were all down there.” Continue reading

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The Big “I” defense makes big plays in win over Providence

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Friday night’s game against the Providence Panthers got off to a quiet start. After each team had the ball on offense, neither could score. Independence was on the board first when RB Isiah Robinson ran for a 13-yard score with 7:26 to go in the first quarter. Robinson’s run capped off a 35-yard drive by […]

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