MINT HILL, NC – The Patriots from Independence soundly defeated the Olympic Trojans in the 2nd round of the State Football Championship Playoffs in the West bracket. Independence moves on to the Semi-Final round with another big football game on Friday night.
From the opening kick-off to the final minute of this contest Independence showed their depth, balanced offensive attack, solid defense, along with good special teams’ play. This club is a good football team that is well coached, has shown maturity and discipline.
The Trojans entered the football game 11-0, and were completely dominated and beaten in the trenches on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The Trojan QB was pressured all night, and an opportunist defensive secondary capitalized with two big picks, batted passes and multiple sacks coming from the defensive line and linebackers.
On the very first play from scrimmage, Justin Little found RB Sincere McIntyre who snuck out of the backfield into the a wide open gap in the Trojan defense and connected for a 67-yard pass, catch, and run to daylight touchdown giving the Patriots an early lead. Daniel Locklear drilled the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 10:16 on the scoreboard clock.
Indy scored again with a nifty 9-play 63-yard touchdown drive capped off with a 27 yard touchdown scamper by Sincere McIntyre. Locklear cleared the uprights and the Pats had a quick 14-0 edge with 5:21 remaining in the 1st quarter.
The Patriots would score again with 2:21 remaining in the quarter, when Jaylin Springs made a great block springing speedy QB Justin Little into the open field for a 49 yard touchdown. Locklear connected again, Indy now had a comfortable 21-0 lead.
Meanwhile, kick-off specialist Charlie Gottlieb boomed his third kick-off into the end zone for a touchback. He would repeat these feet in four straight kick-offs and his other kicks were all inside the 5-yard line. Gottlieb kept the Trojans pinned down consistently starting drives from their own 20 yards. The special teams did an excellent job in kick return coverage taking full advantage of those high boomers.
In the second quarter, Indy struck again on a 3rd and 7 when QB Little located an open WR Joe Moraglia who mde the catch and weaved he was to the 5-yard line for a 30-yard pass reception. Shaun Soloman would carry the football inside the one-yard line, on 2nd down Soloman would bang his way into the end zone to give Indy a 27-0 advantage. The extra point was blocked by the Trojans.
Indy was stopped on their next possession to end the consecutive scoring streak. However, on a 1st and 10 for the Trojans on their own 43 yard line, Joe Reddish made an interception and returned the football to the Trojan 10 yard line. Pats RB Emmanuel Teah would take the handoff from QB Little and dashed through a gaping hole into the end zone extending the score 34-0 after Locklear drilled the extra point with 6:52 remaining.
The Indy defense held again when the “Diesel” Josh Iseah made a big stop on 4th and 1 forcing a turnover on downs giving the Patriots excellent field position on the Trojans 34 yard line. QB Little found Brian Crowder whose pass reception put the Pats on the eight yard line. On the next play Little ran it in for another touchdown with 4:35 remaining in the first half.
Enter Will Brown, the junior TE who we call the “Punisher” who caught his first pass reception late in the 2nd quarter for a 10-yarder and an Indy 1st down. This was the precursor to his impact in the game where Brown would add another 81 yards of offense through the air while punishing the Trojan defensive backs. Another pass to Brown for 13 more yards, followed by a 30-yard reception by Brown from Little, then a 16-yard reception to Coleton Belcher, and the drive was captioned on a 19-yard pass reception to Brown with 1:12 remaining in the first half. The PAT was good and Indy now had a commanding 48-0 massacre scoring 27 points in the second quarter. This game was all but over and the teams played the second half with a running clock.
The Will Brown show continued in the second half when Indy scored first making the score 55-0 with 6:46 on the running clock in the 3rd quarter. Brown made another key pass reception to the Trojan 2 yard line. Shaun Soloman would complete the scoring with a two-yard rumble into the end zone. The PAT was good and then the rain started to come down softening the field of play.
The Trojans would put together their only drive on a 45-yard QB Keeper by Elijah Holmes with 10:30 remaining in the football game. The PAT was blocked by the Indy rush frustrating the Trojans even more.
Indy will play #1 seed Grimsley, Greensboro, NC on the road next Friday night as they defeated #17 Charlotte Catholic 42-30. Independence is the #8 seed in the tournament in the West.
One final thought, Indy second-year head football coach DJ McFadden was selected as this season’s “Coach of the Year” in the SW4A Conference. We want to congratulate Coach McFadden for his selection which is well deserved, and it could not have been accomplished without an excellent coaching staff assembled at Indy.