PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Independence Clashes with Cane Ridge in Battle of Unbeatens

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Independence (12-0) at Cane Ridge (12-0), 7 p.m. Friday

Friday’s quarterfinal clash at Cane Ridge may be a battle of Class 5A’s only remaining undefeated teams, but the Independence Eagles see it as just another matchup.

“This is just another game we have to get past to get closer to our goal [of winning a state title],” Independence head coach Scott Blade said. “We’re going to face a great team in Cane Ridge that has a ton of talent and a ton of weapons. We know it’s going to be an incredible challenge for us.”

The defending state champion Eagles ride a 27-game winning streak into the bout after it defeated Hillsboro 42-20 last week.

Independence QB Brandon Hines
Independence QB Brandon Hines

Led by quarterback Brandon Hines, the Eagles average 41.17 points per game.

Hines racked up 236 passing yards and five touchdowns (1 run) in last week’s victory. He has 2,614 passing yards, 32 touchdowns (1 run) and eight interceptions this season.

His top weapons are running back Troy Henderson (764 rush yds, 340 rec. yds, 20 TDs) and receivers Landon Guidry (729 rec. yds, 375 rush yds, 12 TDs), TJ Sheffield (650 rec. yds, 308 rush yds, 14 TDs) and Kendrell Scurry (591 rec. yds, 10 TDs).

Cane Ridge presents the toughest challenge the group has seen this year.

Its defense allows an average of 15.25 PPG.

“They’re so athletic and fast they can match up with some of our skill positions and create some problems for us,” Blade stated. “They know what they want to do and their athleticism and skill set makes it a unique challenge for us.”

Cane Ridge features a high-powered offense that’s capable of keeping pace with the Eagles.

Spearheaded by quarterback DJ Thorpe, the Ravens average 37.58 PPG.

“Their quarterback is really effective in dishing out the ball,” Blade said. “He’s accurate and he can extend plays with his feet. They have a ton of experience on offense, and they do what they do really well. It all starts out with their quarterback, and that extends to their receivers and running back.”

The Eagles haven’t allowed more than 21 points in a game all season.

Defensive end David Demke (104 tkls, 15 sacks) and defensive tackle Michael Weathers (64 tkls, 13 sacks) lead the front-seven.

The secondary is loaded with ballhawks in safeties Jevon Robertson (4 ints, 1 FR, 1 FF) and Guidry (2 ints, 1 FR) and cornerbacks Alan Watson (4 ints) and Cole Huner (3 ints, 1 FR, 1 FF).

Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at sam@brentwoodhomepage.com. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.

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