It was all familiar, in a way. Tom Knotts left Independence High on Friday night with his team scoring a lopsided victory.
But it was different, of course. Knotts, who built Independence into a national prep football power in the early 2000’s, is now head coach at Dutch Fork, which he has guided to a pair of South Carolina state titles.
And on Friday night, Knotts’ young Silver Foxes were far too much for Independence, winning 51-8. Dutch Fork, starting a number of sophomores in a bid to repeat as S.C. 5A champion, was erratic in its 2017 opener. But “erratic” was more than the Patriots could deal with.
Playing its first game under new head coach Mike Natoli, Independence found its offense absolutely stymied in the first half. The Patriots had only one first down and 17 yards total offense at halftime.
Meanwhile, Dutch Fork – platooning two quarterbacks – did enough right on offense to build a 35-0 lead.
The Patriots got their first touchdown under Natoli in the third quarter, when Wes Cook hooked up with receiver Dylan Bryan on a 69-yard touchdown pass. That cut the deficit to 35-8 after the two-point conversion, but Dutch Fork scored five plays later and erased any of the Patriots’ hopes.
Records: Dutch Fork is 1-0 overall; Independence is 0-1 overall.
Worth mentioning: This was the second part of a two-year contract between the schools. Dutch Fork won 45-0 last year at home … Independence wide receiver Dylan Bryan was a bright spot for the Patriots, catching 11 passes for 141 yards … Patriot wide receiver Shai Wheeler was injured late in the game and carried off on a stretcher. The extent of his injuries was not immediately known.
What's Next: Dutch Fork is home on Sept. 1 against North Charleston’s Fort Dorchester. Independence travels next Friday to Hopewell.
Dutch Fork 10 28 7 6 – 52
Independence 0 0 8 0 – 8
DF – Tyler Olenchuk 25 run (Ford Williams kick)
DF – FG Williams 25
DF – Ron Hoff 2 run (Williams kick)
DF – Hoff 5 run (Williams kick)
DF – Bryce Thompson 60 punt return (Williams kick)
DF – Josue Paredes 12 run (Williams kick)
I – Dylan Bryan 69 pass from Wes Cook (Chase Rapp run)
DF – Olenchuk 11 run (Williams kick)
DF – Jonathan Hall 8 run (no PAT attempt)