Photo by Bill Dorsten
By Zachary Harmuth
After finishing second in AAA District 11, Independence will play at Rossview, in Clarksville, this Friday in the first round of the TSSAA 2013 BlueCross Class 6A playoffs.
Rossview finished 9-1 and second in AAA District 10, which earned it a No. 4 seed in the 6A playoff bracket; Indy, which finished 7-3, drew a No. 5 seed and so must travel to Rossview.
Independence and Rossview play two very different styles of football. Independence plays what statistic nerds call a high-variance type of game. Which is a fancy way of saying that they are boom or bust. They score points quickly and with big plays or, for the most part, not at all.
Think of Titans running back Chris Johnson in 2009 when he ran for 2006 yards. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry that year. But he gained almost 1000 yards on just 20 of his 358 carries. And on his 20 worst carries he lost 100 yards. He had very high variance that season. A runner with very low variance would have gained between 5 or 6 yards on all 358 carries, never losing yards but never making big runs either.
Variance gives depth to an average. And Independence was a high variance team this year. Largely because of Vic Wharton III, whose kick returns and big catches powered that offense.
He led the team across the board, in rushing, receiving and special teams yards, for a total of 1875. That is more than double No. 2 Rashaan Gaulden, who had 644 yards all purpose (542 receiving).
The three teams that beat Indy this year had one thing in common: they stopped Wharton. Against Beech, Ravenwood and Blackman, he averaged 133 yards all purpose. In seven wins he averaged 211 yards all purpose.
If Independence can not find a way to get Wharton going, then Rossview has a very good chance at winning.
Rossview is a very different team than Independence. They do one thing well, which is run the ball, but are very, very good at that one thing.
They averaged a ridiculous 342 yards rushing per game this year. (Independence averaged 103, which is on the low side.)
A good rushing team probably averages about 200 to 250 yards a game.
Rossview ran the ball 5 times for every pass it threw this season. They know their opponents know that they are going to run and dare someone to stop them.
Independence can win this game by either outscoring Rossview (big game from Wharton, a lot of Andrew Bunch-to-whoever clutch passes) or by stopping the run and forcing them to pass.
The only team that beat them this year, Henry County, did so by the latter. Any team that tried to outscore them ultimately was outscored by Rossview.
Pick your poison, Independence.