Photo by Bill Dorsten
By: David Wells
Independence is in desperate need for a momentum shift.
For the first three weeks of the season, Independence’ high-flying offense carried the Eagles to margins of victory of up to 49 points. But in Weeks 3 and 4, their opponents Beech and Ravenwood exposed their weaknesses in a costly fashion.
And now Independence faces a 5-0 Blackman team whose sole goal is to do what it has done all season: blow out opponents.
Blackman has easily dispensed its opponents so far this season. With the exception of a 10-point victory over Brentwood in Week 1, the Blaze have defeated their opponents by an average of 26.4 points per game.
Blackman can attribute a large portion of its success to two key offensive players: quarterback Jajuan Jennings and running back Charlie Davidson.
Jennings currently leads the team with 326 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on top of his 494 passing yards and eight touchdown passes. Davidson, meanwhile, has five rushing touchdowns and averages 6 yards per carry.
Blackman also boasts a pair of receivers—Quin Hardy and Styles Corder—who both have over 100 receiving yards on fewer than 10 receptions.
As it has in past weeks, Independence will once again rely on Hollis and Tennessee recruit Vic Wharton III; however, it will need more than a couple big plays on offense to secure a victory.
Against Beech, Independence’ offense kept it close, but a weak running defense and Caleb Hollis’s four interceptions prevented the Eagles from taking the lead in their 28-21 loss.
In its last game, Independence scored fewer than 21 points for the first time this season, and the defense couldn’t keep Ravenwood out of the end zone.
But no one should underestimate the Eagles’ ability to score; before facing Ravenwood, the Eagles were favored because of their ability to put the game out of reach early, and against Beech, Independence kept it close despite losing in time possession.
Yet, if Independence wants to win this one, it has to limit the turnovers. In its past two games, the Eagles have given the ball away eight times. A quality opponent like Blackman will no doubt seize opportunities like that.
Kickoff for Friday’s game is at 7 p.m. at Blackman High School.