STORY BY CORY WOODROOF | PHOTO BY DEB SCALLY
It’s beginning to look like the Independence Eagles are figuring it out more quickly than they did last year.
The team’s 45-14 smash-bang victory at home Friday night against a Centennial Cougars squad in transition its their second-straight in so many weeks, and build the team a nice cushion of momentum for when 6A foe Blackman comes to town next week.
“They’ve got a little bit of grit and toughness to them,” Indy head coach Scott Blade said of his Eagles three games in.
Quarterback Ethan Cash and wideout Chayce Bishop accounted for two touchdowns each in the victory, and Jaxson Campbell picked off Centennial QB Grayson Marcel twice to help turn the tide in Indy’s favor.
The game looked somewhat in reach for Centennial early after running back Desmond Smith dashed for a 60-yard score in the second quarter to make the mark 14-7 Indy. But then, the Eagles rattled off two quick scores (sustained drive, Campbell pick-six) and a field goal to get to 31-7 before half.
From then on, the Cougars had to abandon the run and focus on their still-evolving passing game, missing wideout Joey Gustafson and tight end Ahsharri Haynesworth from last season.
The game took a bit of a sluggish pace as the clock wound down and the score kept rising, but Indy kept its focus and walked away with a 1-0 region mark.
“It’s hard,” Blade said of keeping the troops focused when a lead is at hand but the clock is not. “It’s coach talk, but you’ve got to go one play at a time. Take it for what it is. … You’ve got to deal with it; not much you can do with it.”
“You’ve just got to realize there’s a whole lot of football left to play,” Cash said. “Anything can happen, so you’ve just got to keep your foot on the gas.”
The Eagles are beginning to click at the right time, with Blade saying he notices a physicality to his team that’s complimenting the school’s history of finesse.
Indy feels like a team that could spoil the prediction pool this year in Region 6-6A, an unpredictable team with guys coming out of the woodwork weekly to make plays and get involved on the offense.
Is the team thinking about potentially playing spoiler to a team like Ravenwood this October?
“I’m not worried about them,” Cash said with a smile where his focus is. “It’s all about us.”
Centennial falls to 1-2
For Cougars head coach Matt Kriesky, the result is a frustrating one, but an insurmountable one.
“We didn’t play well,” Kriesky said. “We couldn’t come over adversity. That’s something you’ve got to do in the game of football. We did some things that were uncharacteristic of Centennial football, so a little disappointed in that. But we’ll bounce back.”
Photo from 2018.