Second-year Independence football head coach John Black shared one area of his team to watch: his Bulldogs’ air game.
“The passing game may be fun to watch,” said the head coach.
With an experienced physical line upfront, there’s plenty of reasons for excitement from Independence football fans.
Seniors Jaxon Jarnigan, Evan Knight, Ian Oliver, and junior Sir Grant return up front for the Bulldogs. The four starters total close to 900 lbs. combined and average near six feet tall. Senior Landon Hines, 6’2″ 230 lbs, should compete for the final spot on the line.
Sophomore Easton Ewing, 6’5″ 225 lbs, is battling junior Ryan Leiker for the starting Bulldogs quarterback position. As a freshman, Ewing played in six games at varsity quarterback throwing for 161 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. While Ewing is throwing the ball efficiently this summer, Leiker’s familiarity with the offense keeps the competition close for the starting quarterback role.
In the backfield, senior Travareus Wilson should factor more into the offensive production. The 5’10” 185 lbs running back recorded just 183 yards while carrying the ball only 38 times.
Senior Braden Brimm, junior Ryan Leiker, and Sophomore Hayden Smith hope to contribute more on offense this season. Both Lieker and Smith enter the 2020 season listed at six feet tall.
However, the defensive unit finds itself rebuilding in 2020.
The trio of seniors Ian Pralle, defensive back, Ian Oliver, defensive back, and Jarnigan, defensive end, are the lone returning starters. As a result, Pralle’s 32 tackles from a year ago makes him the team-leading tackler.
Juniors Brecken Birtie, Remmington Easley, Cooper Smith, and sophomores Hayden Smith, Dannon Kelly, Dylan Kelly, and Jamison Jarnigan will have the chance to mature into their roles throughout the season.
“This team is a lot more focused this year than last year,” according to coach Black. “We will build on effort and continue to improve every day.”
As a result of the fluid COVID-19 pandemic, the Independence football varsity schedule looks slightly different. The Bulldogs will face SEK League rival Fort Scott back-to-back early on in the season. Independence was originally scheduled to meet Wichita North. However, Wichita schools pulled the plug on fall sports due to COVID-19 concerns. The second game against the Tigers, held in Independence, counts towards SEK League records.
As of publishing, Independence opens the 2020 season on the road against El Dorado on Friday, September 4th, 2020.