High School Sports

Is Independence back? New coach Justin Hardin has slow-starting Patriots close to a championship

After a slow 0-2 start, Independence and Brandon Karshner (48) -- seen leading the Patriots onto the field at Memorial Stadium earlier this season -- is in position to win a second straight league title. Photo by JASON E. MICZEK - Special to the Observer
After a slow 0-2 start, Independence and Brandon Karshner (48) -- seen leading the Patriots onto the field at Memorial Stadium earlier this season -- is in position to win a second straight league title. Photo by JASON E. MICZEK - Special to the Observer MICZEK PHOTOGRAPHY

Remember Independence?

As Butler and Mallard Creek have dominated Mecklenburg County, and the state of North Carolina the past six years, the once-mighty Patriots have faded a little. Independence has run through three coaches in the past four seasons. But the new Patriots coach, battle-tested Justin Hardin, is slowly building up the Patriots’ reputation again.

After Friday’s definitive 45-13 win over Rocky River, Independence has now won four games in a row, allowing only seven points per game in the run. This is the dominating defense people around Mint Hill were talking about in preseason, not the group that was blown out 58-6 by Mallard Creek and 42-13 by Scotland County to start the season.

All of a sudden, the Patriots are 7-3 overall and 5-0 in the Southwestern 4A. Friday, they won their 11th straight conference game. Next week, Independence will go for its second straight conference title. Standing in their way, like (almost) always, will be Butler (8-2, 4-1).

These may be the two hottest teams in Mecklenburg County right now. Last week, Butler got back several starters who had been suspended and the Bulldogs have won three straight, including their most recent 76-7 win over Porter Ridge. Butler was off this week, but next week, the Bulldogs will most certainly be “on” and ready to go.

And so will Indy.

Elevator

Former Independence QB Chris Leak: former national championship game MVP inducted into the Florida Gators Hall of Fame.

South Meck defense: four interceptions against Providence Friday.

Concord High: Spiders have won 25 straight South Piedmont 3A games after Friday’s 51-0 win over Northwest Cabarrus.

Charlotte Catholic: After Friday’s 39-3 win over Ardrey Kell, the Cougars have won 43 straight conference games. Catholic’s last league loss? September of 2009.

Friday’s Top Performers

Andrew Dziuk, Hough: had three of his career-best four sacks in the second half as the Huskies shut down 16th-ranked North Mecklenburg 30-6 and clinched a share of their first-ever MECKA 4A title.

Jaret Anderson, Charlotte Catholic: 144 yards rushing and three scores in a 42-9 win over Ardrey Kell that clinched the SoMeck 8 title. Anderson left the game late in the third quarter with a knee injury. He is questionable for next week.

Jakeenen Whitmire, Jorden Freeman, Garinger: Unofficially, Whitmire threw for more than 300 yards in a 47-28 loss to Myers Park. Freeman rushed for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Freeman’s yardage, if confirmed, would be a new school record.

Bates Jones, Charlotte Latin: 14-for-14 passing for 195 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-14 over Charlotte Country Day. The Hawks had to win to qualify for the playoffs. Country Day is now 1-5 in conference play the past two seasons.

Travis Ramseur, Statesville: nine carries for 249 yards and five scores in a 77-43 win over Alexander Central. Ramseur averaged 27.7 yards per carry.

Jaylen Riley, Independence: After having open-heart surgery in June 2014, Riley had a key first-half interception in a 45-13 win over Rocky River.

Cedric Stone, Independence: 82-yard kickoff return for a score and 85-yard interception return for a score for the Georgia State recruit.

Justus Woods, Elijah Deveaux, Charlotte Christian: Woods rushed 20 times for 152 yards and Deveaux 18 times for 150 in a 27-7 win over Providence Day.

Friday’s Roundup

Charlotte Latin 49, Charlotte Country Day 14: DeMarkes Stradford ran 12 times for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Both teams had to win to qualify for next week’s N.C. Independent Schools’ Division I playoffs. Stradford had scoring runs of 65 and 80 yards.

East Mecklenburg 41, Porter Ridge 7: East Meck (5-5, 3-2 Southwestern 4A) has won as many games this season as it did in the past three years combined. It’s the most wins the school has had since 2009.

No. 8 AL Brown 34, West Charlotte 7: Tied with the Lions at 7 in the third quarter, Brown pulled away late to improve to 8-2.

Olympic 21, Harding 8: Harding led 8-6 at halftime, but Olympic outscored the Rams 15-0 in the second half to win.

Myers Park 47, Garinger 28: Garinger outscored Myers Park 28-7 in the fourth quarter but ended its season after a 41st straight loss. Myers Park (5-4, 3-2 Southwestern 4A) won for the second time in three weeks.

Pine Lake Prep 30, Thomas Jefferson 3: Pine Lake Prep improved to 10-0 and will face conference unbeaten Community School of Davidson next week for the Southern Piedmont league title.

Vance 14, Hopewell 13: Vance led 14-0 but struggled in the second half with penalties. The Cougars ran into the kicker on a missed 40-yard field goal and roughed the passer on a failed third and 17 screen, for example. Vance blocked Hopewell’s final PAT attempt with five minutes left to win and snap a two-game losing streak.

How the Sweet 16 fared

Rank, school

Cl.

Friday’s result

Rec.

1. Char. Catholic

4A

d. Ardrey Kell 42-9

9-0

2. Northwestern

4A

d. Rock Hill 49-13

9-1

3. Hough

4A

d. No. 16 North Mecklenburg 30-6

9-1

4. Rock Hill South Pointe

3A

d. Clinton (SC) 25-8

9-1

5. Mallard Creek

4A

idle

8-2

6. Butler

4A

idle

8-2

7. Weddington

3A

d. Piedmont 38-14

9-1

8. A.L. Brown

4A

d. West Charlotte 34-7

8-2

9. East Lincoln

2A

d. Maiden 56-28

10-0

10. Davidson Day

IND

d. Q Foundation via forfeit

9-0

11. Concord

3A

d. NW Cabarrus 51-0

9-1

12. Monroe

2A

d. West Stanly 56-0

10-0

13. South Iredell

3A

d. North Iredell 51-7

9-1

14. South Mecklenburg

4A

d. Providence 14-7

8-2

15. South Point

3A

d. North Gaston 42-0

8-2

16. North Mecklenburg

4A

lost 30-6 to No. 3 Hough

7-3

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