Independence High’s football team will kick off the season next fall in South Carolina, facing off against former coach Tom Knotts.
The Patriots, who were 8-5 under Justin Hardin last season, will play at Dutch Fork on Aug. 19. Knotts is the head coach at Dutch Fork. Knotts led Independence to six of its seven straight N.C. state championships from 2000-06. He was an assistant at Duke during the 2004 championship run.
Knotts left Independence after the 2009 season to take over at Dutch Fork. He led Dutch Fork to the 2013 S.C. Division I state championship.
Patriots athletics director Kelly Lewis said he and Knotts began talking after the Patriots’ planned season-opener with three-time N.C. 4AA champ Mallard Creek fell through. Mallard Creek is playing S.C. power Dillon. The schools signed a two-year contract. This year’s game is at Dutch Fork. The 2017 game is at Independence.
“We both agreed that it won’t be about Tom Knotts versus Independence,” said Lewis, who was an assistant under Knotts for 11 years and was his AD for three more. “We both needed a football game. But in 2017 when gets to come home, he’ll be on the opposite sideline. So sure, it’ll be weird.”
Independence High 2016 football schedule
A19: at Dutch Fork
A26: at Scotland Co.
S9: at West Meck
S23: at East Meck
S30: Porter Ridge (homecoming)
O14: at Garinger
O21: Myers Park
O28: Rocky River
N4: at Butler