Independence High School took the opening kickoff for a touchdown against an upstart Centennial High School squad never looked back Friday night on the way to a 35-0 victory.
Wide receiver Jack Rummel knifed right through the Centennial (1-2) kickoff unit for 98 yards to give the (1-2) Independence Eagles a big play this team desperately needed after starting the season 0-2.
After holding the Cougars two or three and out, quarterback Joe Cummings threw a 50-yard strike to senior wide-receiver River Katina on the next play to put the Eagles up 14-0 within the first three minutes of the game.
Then, with just over four minutes left to go in the first quarter, Cummings found Daniel Morales for a 62-yard strike up the sideline to make the score 21-0 in the first quarter. Running back Tre Hartwell had 6-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
“It was a great way to start the game and really carried the momentum to the end,” Independence head coach Scott Blade said. “But coming after a couple of tough losses, this was a nice way to get things started fast and going, and finish the night with a great win.”
The Eagles first two opponents, Lipscomb Academy and Christ Presbyterian Academy, outscored them 110-28.
The Eagles outscored the Cougars 28–0 in the first half of Friday night’s game. Blade thought it was a great confidence builder for Cummings, his first-year starting quarterback.
“Joe has faced some really fast and active defenses and we wanted to get him back throwing with some confidence," Blade said. “The idea was to get Joe back on track, the receivers back on track and I think they did that tonight.”
Cummings finished the game 10–16 for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Katrina led the receivers with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Katina's second score came early in the second half to close out the scoring give the Eagles a running clock for the rest of the game.
Centennial, who did not surrender a point in the first two contests, failed to punch back Friday night after the opening minutes of the game.
“We couldn't finish tonight, we kept shooting ourselves in the foot, making mistakes we haven't made in the first two weeks, and that's gonna happen when you play a good team like Independence,” Centennial head coach Matt Kriesky said.
“You've got to play mistake-free ball. You've got to eliminate penalties. You've got to play assignment football, and we didn't do that tonight. The air came out of our balloon, and we couldn't rebound from it.”
The one promising drive for the Cougars came in the second quarter after a fourth down stop gave Centennial the ball in Eagles territory.
The Cougars ran the ball almost exclusively Friday night, and almost exclusively with red-hot senior Josh Forsee. On this drive he picked up two first downs, and the Cougars converted a fourth and six after a defensive penalty by the Eagles. Unfortunately, the Centennial offense stalled after four-straight incompletions in the red zone.
Another trip deep in Eagles territory in the third quarter had similar results for the Cougars.
Blade thought the Independence defense really stepped up after two tough games to start the season, especially against Forsee.
“I thought the guys did a good job keeping [Forsee] bottled up, he's a terrific player...a terrific running back, and I thought they did a good job of keeping it bottled up tonight.”
Independence and Centennial will both step outside region 7-6A next week. The Cougars will host Antioch High at home. Independence will travel to undefeated Pope John Paul II to face another soaring private school.
“We're 1-0 in the region, that's the most important thing," Blade said. “But we're going to face a terrific team in JPII. Honestly, it's just about trying to get better, keep improving, knowing that we've got a tough rest of the schedule. It's nice to get this win, we will enjoy it for the night and get to work on JPll in the morning.”