No matter who is playing quarterback for Independence, it’s their defense that leads them and the Patriots proved it again Friday night.
In the Southwestern 4A opener for both teams and without star quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Independence (6-0 overall, 1-0 SW4A) pitched its fifth shutout in six games, dominating host East Meck (1-5, 0-1) 38-0 at Dick Williams Field.
Junior Christian McPhail filled in for Hopkins, who was held out at quarterback due what Head Coach Joe Evans termed a “family matter.” He didn’t elaborate.
McPhail came out and ran the Patriot offense with precision early, leading Independence to touchdown drives on their first three possessions, including a 10-yard scoring strike to Jamar Jenkins on the opening drive and Independence led 21-0 after only a quarter.
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“Christian did a good job managing the offense,” Evans said. “He’s a good quarterback and has done everything we’ve asked of him and I had every confidence he would be able to lead us.”
East Meck could not get anything going on offense, gaining just 24 yards in the first half and 103 for the entire game. In fact, Independence had more penalty yards than East Meck had total yards until three minutes were left in the game.
But the East Meck defense held their own after the first, keeping Independence from scoring in the second and much of the third. The only score they allowed in that span was a three-yard run from Quantavious McGill with 4:20 left in the third, which came one play after Independence recovered an East Meck fumble.
McPhail finished the night with 209 yards passing and two touchdowns, the last also going to Jenkins, who made a great catch over an East Meck defender for a 45-yard score with 4:55 left in the game. Jenkins finished the night with 113 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
“We still need to get better in all three phases to get where we want to go,” Evans said. “Our defense has brought it every week and when you have five shutouts in six games you’re going to be hard to beat.”