High School Sports

Independence gets unwanted makeover before rivalry game against Butler

Tom Knotts, shown here during his final season as coach at Independence in 2009, has coached Dutch Fork (S.C.) since 2010.
Tom Knotts, shown here during his final season as coach at Independence in 2009, has coached Dutch Fork (S.C.) since 2010. THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

Independence High athletic officials were greeted with a surprise Thursday morning when they arrived at school.

The Patriots’ football field – which will host Friday’s Southwestern 4A championship game between Butler and Independence – had been vandalized. The letters “BHS” in Butler’s school colors – red, black and gray – were in the end zone. One of the Patriots’ goal posts had been bent, and there was graffiti throughout the stadium, including some painted on concrete walkways.

“It’s a rivalry game and I was kind of expecting paint on the field and on the rock (in front of the school). That’s what it’s become,” Patriots athletics director Kelly Lewis said. “But the goal post and the graffiti on the concrete? Not so much. But, hey, it’s Butler-Indy.”

Lewis said he’ll have Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ building services sand blast the graffiti from the concrete. He said he’ll take money from the school’s athletic budget to buy paint to cover other areas that were spray painted.

Independence (7-3, 5-0 Southwestern 4A) has a one-game lead over Butler (8-2, 4-1) heading into Friday’s regular-season finale.

Gates at Independence will open Friday at 5:30 p.m. The school’s parking lot will open at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 and none will be sold in advance.

▪ Longtime Mecklenburg County coach Tom Knotts has coached at South Carolina’s Dutch Fork High for six seasons. He told me Friday morning that next year might be his last. At Dutch Fork, Knotts has turned the Silver Foxes into a 4A power. His teams have been to three state championship games and won the title in 2013. In 28 years in North Carolina, Knotts led Harding, West Charlotte and Independence to 11 state championship appearances, winning seven titles.

“I’m year-to-year now,” Knotts, 59, said. “But I’ll definitely do one more.”

Knotts’ record is 364-74.

Knotts said he’s looking for an opponent for a home game next season on Aug. 26 and Sept. 23. “I’ll play anybody,” he said.

Of course, I think the public could get excited about, say, Independence-Dutch Fork or Mallard Creek-Dutch Fork or Butler-Dutch Fork. Knotts even said his school could help cover travel expenses.

▪ Last week, Rock Hill South Pointe sophomore defensive end Eli Adams had five sacks against Clinton. He has 17 for the season. In the game, South Pointe had 15 sacks and won 26-8.

▪ Davidson Day once scored 104 points in a game and has always been known for its offense, but the Patriots’ defense has had much to do with a school-best10-0 start this season. Four Patriots – Chase Monroe (109), Ryan Titus (88), Garrett Groulx (73) and Christian Launius (75) – have at least 70 tackles. The team has 11 interceptions and 16 sacks. Davidson Day has held four opponents to 10 points or less and amassed those stats in eight games. The Patriots were awarded two forfeit wins this season.

▪ Metrolina Christian quarterback Rud Yearick completed 16 of 24 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns and ran 12 times for 128 yards and two scores in last week’s 41-7 win against Hickory Grove. Metrolina Christian (9-0) opens the state playoffs Friday at home against Concord First Assembly.

▪ Monroe’s Izaiah Wall, a defensive lineman, also had a big game last week with 13 tackles in a 56-0 win over West Stanly. He had three sacks and six of his tackles were for a loss. Monroe has shut out three of its past four opponents and has four shutouts total. Monroe (10-0, 4-0) will play Forest Hills (8-2, 4-0) for the Rocky River championship Friday night at home.

Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr

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