After amassing all three of its losses this season in September, Independence (5-3, 3-1 in AAA District 11) will try to stay undefeated in October on Friday night at home against Franklin (7-1, 3-1 AAA District 11).
This is a big game for both teams in this district showdown. With only two games left in the regular season, Independence sits in third place in District 11 and Franklin second.
The two teams each owe their only district loss this year to Ravenwood; Independence fell to RHS 30-14 back on September 20; Franklin 24-23 just last week (and a bit more dramatically as they gave up their undefeated season and the district lead on the same night).
Independence has outplayed Franklin so far this year against district opponents, averaging almost 10 more points per game on offense (37.5) and giving up only four more on defense (21.75) than Franklin (28 to 17.75).
While the Eagles have not put up huge numbers on the ground this season (averaging just over 100 yards per game), they have had no problem moving the ball through the air.
Since sophomore Andrew Bunch replaced injured starting senior quarterback Caleb Hollis, who hurt his shoulder in a blowout loss to Blackman at the end of September, Independence ended a three game losing streak and has now won two straight.
Bunch came in and in two starts is averaging 251 yards per game and completing just under 60 percent of his throws. He threw for two touchdowns and one pick in each start, and he might just have played his way into the starting job. Hollis averaged 193 yards per game, also completing about 60 percent of his throws, while throwing 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in six games.
But the Eagles would probably be happy with either quarterback against Franklin, as it is uncertain whether Hollis will be healthy enough to play.
It sure helps whoever the quarterback is for Independence to have two future Volunteers to throw to, of course, with Vic Wharton III and RaShaan Gaulden.
Wharton has gone wild this season, leading the team in rushing and receiving yards. He averages 95 yards per game receiving, and 35 yards rushing, and has accounted for 13 offensive touchdowns.
Franklin’s defense has 10 interceptions this season, though, and averages more than 3 sacks per game.
So that is a dynamic to look for in this game. If the Eagles can play offense like they have the past few weeks, and just hold tight on defense, they should be able to win this one by simply outscoring Franklin.