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Story and Video By SAM McGAW

Following a crushing 21-7 loss against Ravenwood, the Independence Eagles now turn around to face another one of the state’s top teams when they host the undefeated Blackman Blaze.

Independence battles the Blackman Blaze in the Humdingers' Game of the Week (Produced by Sam McGaw)

Blackman (5-0, 3-0) at Independence (4-1, 1-1), 7 p.m.

Following a crushing 21-7 loss against Ravenwood, the Independence Eagles now turn around to face another one of the state’s top teams when they host the undefeated Blackman Blaze.

Blackman, which was recently ranked 56th in the nation by MaxPreps, features an abundance of playmakers that will test the Eagles on all aspects this Friday.

“It’s one of those things where we’re overmatched in a lot of ways,” said Indy head coach Scott Blade. “Honestly, we can’t control that. If we can keep moving regardless of the score, get a little bit better and control some of the things we had control over last week and make improvements there, we should be fine.”

Independence’s defense has the challenge of containing the one-two punch of Blackman quarterback and university of Tennessee commit Jauan Jennings and running back Charlie Davidson.

Jennings heads into this week with 764 passing yards, 371 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns. As for Davidson, he’s rushed for 717 yards and 11 scores while averaging 10.1 yards per carry.

Independence QB Andrew Bunch (10) has 15 total TDs this year (Photo by Andrew Dyrdal for FHP)

“Their running back (Davidson) runs with an attitude,” Blade said. “He runs to punish you. Jennings is just one of those guys that can beat you with his arm. If he feels like it’s covered, he can beat you with his legs. I think he’d probably prefer to beat you with his legs. Either way, they’re both tremendous talents, tremendous athletes and they’re going to be really tough to contain.”

Blade said his defense is preparing for Blackman’s explosive offense like it would for any other team.

“Obviously, there are some athletes over there that present problems, both on paper and on film, and I’m sure in person,” he said. “You do the best you can. If you get the kids doing their jobs and hitting their gaps and playing disciplined football, you always have a chance. That’s what we’re after.”

Indy’s offense looks to bounce back after last week’s showing against Ravenwood in which they turned the ball over four times and gave up seven sacks.

“We have to have better protection and ball security,” Blade said. “The whole first half really got out of sync. Our quarterback got hit more than he’s been hit the whole year. A couple of those key turnovers really made life hard for us to get into a sync.”

Despite the lack of protection, quarterback Andrew Bunch was still able to find production, as he threw for 338 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

His top two targets were juniors Seth Huner and Nate Johnson.

Huner caught 10 receptions for 145 yards and a TD, and Johnson had seven catches for 116 yards.

Independence RB Dom Childress had 31 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards against Ravenwood (Photo submitted by Bill Dorston)

“This is a tempo, rhythm offense,” Blade said. “When the quarterback can’t sit back there and doesn’t have time to throw, can’t roll out to throw, it really makes his life hard.”

If Bunch is going to find success through the air against Blackman, the offensive line has to find a way to hold off the talented Blaze front-seven.

“Up front they’re big, they’re strong and they’re athletic,” he said. “I think that’s a consistent theme across the whole board, especially on that defensive line. They play with an attitude. They expect to win. They expect to dominate you.”

Another big key for the Eagles’ offense is going to be its ability to establish the run.

If the offensive line can create holes for running backs Dom Childress (346 rush yards, 3 TDs) and Jordan Pope (235 rush yards, 3 TDs), Blade said his team will not only be able to sustain drives, but it will also lead to them putting points on the board.

“It’s going to be tough against a bigger, more physical defense,” Blade said. “That’s the task at-hand. We have to create some running seams to be able to keep the chains moving to allow our offense to get into some sort of tempo.”

Sam McGaw is the sports editor for Franklin Home Page. Email him at [email protected]. You can also follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.