Photo by Bill Dorsten
By: David Wells & Zach Harmuth
Through the first three weeks of this season, Independence had been dominating its opponents on offense, thanks in large part to quarterback Caleb Hollis and receiver Vic Wharton III.
But after falling last week to defending 5A champion Beech High School in Week 3, the Eagles showed they still have a little work to do before they are ready to play state champion-caliber teams.
Independence will face another test this week, but it will be a District test as the Eagles travel north to play Ravenwood High School Friday night. This is a District 11 showdown, and the first one of the season for Ravenwood (3-0). Independence (3-1) has a loss but also it has a win in conference.
For both teams, a win will mean much more than just bragging rights for a year over a District rival.
Both Independence (3-1, 1-0 District 11-AAA) and Ravenwood (3-0, 0-0) have established themselves as contenders for a District title, and both have an opportunity to gain the upper hand in what could be a tight race for the championship. More is at stake here for Ravenwood- a loss would give them the same record as Independence but a very different District 11 record (Independence would be 2-0; Ravenwood 0-1).
Ravenwood has not played a team nearly as good as Independence yet this year (two out of its first three games were absolute blowouts), and they almost lost to LaVergne (1-3) last week, ranked 165 in the state, according to Maxpreps. Ravenwood survived that game, winning 30-27 in overtime, thanks to a Van Jefferson touchdown with a minute to go in the fourth quarter–an auspicious play that showed the Raptors could survive in tough situations.
Jefferson leads the team in receiving yards with 426 in an offense that has thrived behind quarterback Avery Jankowski, who has nearly 600 passing yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
In the backfield, Seth and Chris Rowland lead the team in rushing yards, though neither one has yet rushed for 200 yards on the season.
Independence, on the other hand, suffered its only loss this year to Beech, last week, a team ranked 16th in the state. And they only lost by a touchdown (28-21). Hollis threw three touchdown passes, but he also threw four picks, and the defense was unable to contain running back Dorian Carter.
Hollis and Wharton III have been the anchors for Independence’ offense all season, and they will likely be that foundation again against Ravenwood, as the Eagles play a pass-oriented offense.
Ravenwood and Independence kick off at 7 p.m. at Ravenwood.