Smoky Bears Cannot Put Out Indy’s Offensive Fire
After a dominant season, Independence would finish their first perfect season in school history while bringing home the school’s first football state championship by topping Sevier County 49-14 in the Class 5A Blue Cross Bowl. The Eagles used an offense which averaged nearly 43 points per game while having their underrated defense gave up less than 12 points per game.
Eagle Offense Unstoppable Early
Independence would open the game with the ball, where the Eagles would drive 66 yards before Andrew Bunch ran the final 5 yards into the endzone. A missed point after would make it 6-0 for the Eagles. After forcing a Smoky Bear punt, Independence went on the move again. Bunch would find Nate Johnson from 12 yards out and a two-point conversion would put the Eagles up 14-0. The Smoky Bears would be forced to punt again, and again the Eagles would put points on the board, when Daniel Wright would get a 1-yard touchdown run to put Independence up 21-0 after one.
Sevier County would be again forced to punt, and the Eagles would go on the offensive quickly. Independence would go 74 yards in 3 plays, capping the drive with an 18 yard connection from Bunch to Seth Huner. The Smoky Bears would put together their first sustained drive, but Hunter Dupree would pick Deuce Wallace off at the Eagle 16 yard line. After the Independence drive would stall, Sevier County would get their first touchdown as Wallace found Devante Matthews. The teams would head to the locker room with Independence leading 28-7.
Turnovers Lead To Rout Of Smoky Bears
Sevier County would open the second half with a successful drive inside the Eagle 10 yard line. However, Independence would turn the Smoky Bears over after a failed fourth down. Independence would drive 93 yards before Andrew Bunch would find Daniel Wright wide open in the endzone to make the score 35-7. Sevier County would again respond, as Wallace would find Miniard for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Independence would have another long drive, before Bunch would again find Wright, this time from 25 yards out, to expand the lead back to 28 points. 25 seconds later, Bunch would find Johnson from 22 yards out as the Smoky Bears would fumble back to the Eagles, setting the final margin at 49-14. Independence would run out the clock late with the backups to win their first state title.
The Eagles would outgain the Smoky Bears 510 yards to 368. Independence would force 3 turnovers on the game, converting one turnover into points. Senior Andrew Bunch would win the offensive MVP award, going 20 of 29 for 313 yards and 5 touchdowns through the air and rushing for 59 yards and 1 touchdown in the game. Junior Hunter Dupree would take home the defensive MVP trophy, finishing the game with 9 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery.
Coach Scott Blade will look to replace a majority of his talent, at skill positions and on the line. Andrew Bunch, Nate Johnson, Daniel Wright, Seth Huner, and Adam Swayze all graduate after this season. After finishing 15-0 and outscoring teams 43 points per game and giving up less than 11.5 points per game, the Eagles have been one of the state’s best teams and will arguably go down as one of Williamson County Schools’ best teams of all-time.