We recently reviewed Independence High School Football with Head Coach Mike Natoli. The 2019 season appears to be very optimistic for the Patriots who have a goal to dramatically improve upon last year and have a winning season on the gridiron.
1. What has the team stressed in camp and practices to date? Execution, toughness, culture have been stressed from day one.
2. What are your team strengths? Experience, uptempo offense, culture are important factors on this team to be successful.
3. In what area do you need the most improvement? We want to continue to get better at everything we do as a team.
4. How is your offensive team this season? Arnold Taylor and Davion Nelson are great players in the back field. Our entire receiving core is returning as starters from last season, as is 4 of our 5 offensive linemen. They should be explosive this season.
5. How would you rate your defense and special teams? Our defense has some experience and players who are smart and aggressive. Once we get comfortable with the new defense, we will be extremely excited about this group. We have a great punter, Alex Collins, and a great kicker, Ryan Howe. With Shai Wheeler leading the returners, we have big expectations out of our special teams as well.
6. How deep is your depth chart on the 2019 team? With about 45 players on the varsity roster, we feel great about our starting 11 on both sides of the ball, and also feel very good about several key backups who will get playing time this year.
7. Where do you stack-up in the Southwestern 4-A Conference? We will see, a lot depends upon on how fast the team develops and executes in a highly competitive conference.
8. What are your realistic expectations for this season? We will see, however, we will be solid offensively and experience should be a contributing factor to having success.
9. Any other comments about, players, coaches, or important points of interest you would like mentioned? We have a phenomenal coaching staff this year. They are all extremely hard working and committed to excellence. Tyson Clawson, three star defensive end, Davion Nelson, running back, Melsy Bonilla, anchors our outside linebacker position, Shai Wheeler, Wide receiver and defensive back, Brian Morgan, wide-out and defensive back.
The Patriots will play their season opener on the road against North Mecklenburg on August 23rd. They will play their home opening game on August 30th at 7:00 pm against South Mecklenburg. Then they will complete the remaining games on their schedule followed by Olympic away, Ardrey Kell away, Hickory Ridge home, East Mecklenburg away, Porter Ridge home, Butler home, Garinger home, Rocky River away, Myers Park at home to end the 2019 regular season campaign.