The Independence High School football team is off to a fast start with their second consecutive blowout victory. They dominated South Mecklenburg 42-7 in every aspect of the game on Friday night under the lights at Patriots Stadium.
After a fumble recovery by Myrone Blair on the Indy 35 yard line on their first offensive possession they drove down the field to take a quick 7-0 lead. During the drive Brevin Caldwell caught a pass for 14 yards, Davion Nelson had three rushes for 18 yards, and Brian Morgan caught a 33 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Arnold Taylor.
In their next possession after an 18 yard punt return by Shai Wheeler, Taylor would hook up this time with Trevor Bryan on a 36 yard touchdown catch and run into the end zone. The two point conversion by Shai Wheeler made the score 15-0 Patriots.
Now late in the first quarter Taylor would connect with Brevin Caldwell on a 30 yard reception down to the two yard line. Taylor would then run a quarterback keeper off left tackle to pay dirt scoring his first rushing touchdown of the young season. Putting the Pats up 21-0 after just one quarter of competition.
In the second quarter the Patriots put together another drive which began with a 19 yard scamper from Davion Nelson. Taylor then hit Khalil Morrison on a 10 yard gainer, but the drive stalled and they had to punt. The Patriots strong defense held the Sabres offense and took over the ball on their own 27 yard line. On the next play Taylor dropped back in the pocket under good pass protection from the offensive line, he would connect with Trevor Bryan on a 63 yard touchdown catch and run reception in the middle of the field to give the Pats a commanding 27-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half the Pats would add another touchdown in their first possession when Indy’s talented Tight End would catch a pass from Taylor and rumble over defenders into the end zone for a 33-0 lead. The two point conversion made by speedster and elusive Shai Wheeler put the Pats up 35-0.
Late in the third quarter Davion Nelson who is beginning to get noticed would take the hand-off from Taylor and bull his way into the end zone for another Patriots touchdown giving the home team a 42-0.
In the final quarter South Mecklenburg would finally put together a sustained drive and score a touchdown with 10:15 remaining in the contest to avoid the shut-out. The Patriots stout defense lead by Tyson Clawson, Ronnell Garrett who had a huge first half with ten tackles, Shai Wheeler, Brevin Caldwell, Sirr Robison, Jeremy Phillips and other defenders made a significant contribution throughout the football game.
After the game in the post-game interview head football coach Mike Natoli was very pleased and proud of this teams performance. He feels positive about quarterback Arnold Taylor, Davion Nelson solid rushing after returning from an ACL injury last season, the play of the offensive line, the strong defensive effort, and of course Tyson Clawson, Shai Wheeler, Trevor Bryan and Omar Zazueta including the special teams contribution in their first two games. “Our success to the start of the season goes to the players who have bought into the program and our tremendous coaching staff,” said Natoli.
There were a couple of injuries and the one in the fourth quarter to defensive back Jeremy Philips could be of concern, “if he is lost for sometime the next man will have to step up,” said Natoli. “Furthermore, as a coach sometimes you have second thoughts about having a player of his ability on the field in a 42-0 game at the time he sustain the injury. It’s just something you don’t anticipate and is very unfortunate.”
The Patriots will travel next week and will have a challenge against Olympic who has a competitive football team. This should be a good test for the improving Independence football program to determine what kind of season they may put together in 2019.