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Patriots offense back in form

By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

More Information

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  • Charlotte firm helps get players combine-ready
  • Prep Insiders blog
  • Tickets for the Butler-Independence game at Memorial Stadium go on sale at 5p.m. Friday. Gates open at 5:30. Tickets are $5 and parking is $3. There are no advance ticket sales.


  • From 2000-04, Independence's offense averaged more than 400 yards and more than 40 points per game. That offensive production slipped from 2005-07. This season, the Patriots are back to their old form, averaging nearly 47 points per game and more than 400 yards (exact yardage totals for 2008 were not available).

    Year

    Games

    Total Points

    Avg. Yards

    Avg. Points

    2000

    16

    701

    416.3

    43.8

    2001

    16

    793

    471.4

    49.6

    2002

    16

    754

    481.3

    47.1

    2003

    16

    734

    450.0

    45.9

    2004

    15

    810

    493.9

    54.0

    2005

    16

    527

    358.8

    32.9

    2006

    16

    630

    397.7

    39.8

    2007

    16

    595

    399.2

    37.2

    2008

    9

    419

    NA

    46.5



In 2004, Independence High quarterback Joe Cox led one of the most potent offenses in N.C. history.

The Patriots averaged 54 points and nearly 500 yards per game. Since Cox left for college at Georgia after that resplendent 2004 season, Independence's offense just hasn't been the same – until now.

From 2005-07, Independence did not average 40 points per game.

The Patriots won state championships from 2000-04 by averaging no fewer than 43.8.

But this year's team is scoring – and moving the ball – like the Independence teams of old.

The 2008 Patriots, who play Butler on Friday at Memorial Stadium, are averaging 46.5 points.

“I'm pleased with how we're coming along offensively,” coach Tom Knotts said. “We're thin, but we're staying healthy. We know how to practice.”

Knotts said this is the best Independence offense since 2004. In the past three seasons, Independence has run the ball a little more than usual.

This year, junior quarterback Anthony Carrothers has thrown for 2,649 yards and 27 touchdowns in nine games.

If Independence goes deep enough in the playoffs, he could produce the fifth 4,000-yard passing season in Mecklenburg County history.

“We used to be more ball control and we threw it to run it,” Knotts said. “Now we throw it to throw it and we've got five guys who can catch it and scoot around and get it done.”

Carrothers has five quality receivers in seniors Lawrence Martin, Michael Rhynes and Sebastian Green, plus juniors Avius Capers and Kierre Brown.

“We have more pride than last year, more heart than last year,” Carrothers said. “We just come out and play our butts off now. We've got a lot more playmakers on the field and coach is doing a good job rotating players in and out.”

Green said Carrothers is “100 percent” improved over his sophomore season, which is a big reason why the offense is clicking so well.

“He puts the ball in the right place and he reads defenses really well,” Green said. “You could see he was doing better over the summer. He started picking things up quicker and he's become more of a weapon now.”

With their offense producing as it did early in the decade, the Patriots hope to win their eighth N.C. championship in nine years next month.

Last season, Independence had its 109-game winning streak stopped. The Patriots lost three, including blowing a 14-0 lead in a 28-17 loss to New Bern in the state final.

That's been fuel for this season – and this offense.

“We were kind of embarrassed about last year,” Knotts said, “blowing the (win) streak and blowing the other streak (of seven straight championships). But our offense is coming along nicely, our defense is playing well.

“We feel like this is our time of year.”

Langston Wertz Jr: 704-358-5133

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