By MADISON BROWDER | Photos by ANDY COLLIGNON
Heading into the 2017 season, the Independence Eagles had lost only one game in the past two seasons. After two games, they were still scrambling for their first win.
That victory came Friday, however, as running back Troy Henderson scored three touchdowns to help take down the Centennial Cougars 28-23.
Despite a dismal game last week against Summit where he had -4 rushing yards, Henderson said he remained optimistic about the season.
“Based on our talent caliber and what we had to work on, we knew that there was a lot of kinks to get worked out,” he stated. “Our goal is never going to change, it’s always going to be state.”
Independence head coach Scott Blade seemed to breathe a little easier following the Region 6-6A win.
“It was huge for us,” he said. “To start off after a couple of tough losses and get our offense going again, our defense played great tonight. It was a great win for us, great win for our community.”
Henderson got the ball rolling early for the Eagles with a 56-yard touchdown dash on the third play of the game.
The next touchdown came from the arm of junior quarterback Nathan Cisco when he connected with TJ Sheffield to put the Eagles up 14-0.
Henderson found paydirt for the second time with an 8-yard run at the end of the first quarter for the 21-point advantage.
At that point, he already racked up 100 rushing yards, more than his season total.
Centennial found its way onto the board after a blocked punt that the Cougars fell on in the end zone.
After a slew of fumbles from the Independence offense, the Cougars were able to capitalize when senior quarterback Tre Stewart connected with Alex Wall for a 19-yard touchdown to bring the game within seven.
Cisco led the offense down the field on the next drive, setting up a 5-yard touchdown by Henderson to make it 28-14.
Independence found itself deep in its own territory late in the second quarter following a 63-yard punt from Centennial’s Johnny Crouch. The Cougars then forced a safety to end the half at 28-16.
Independence failed to score another touchdown as Centennial tried to make a comeback. Junior running back Jariel Wilson took it to the house with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
It would prove to be too little, too late for the Cougars, as the Eagles were able to make several keys stops and run the clock out.
The Eagles move to 1-2 on the season and 1-0 in region play following their first regional game. They will travel to Hillsboro next week.
The Cougars are also 1-2 on the season, but drop to 1-1 in regional play. They have their first home game of the season Friday against Cane Ridge.