Independence making case as 5-5A Div. I’s second best

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Independence FB

Independence is averaging over 57 points per game through the first four games this season.

For the first time ever, three Frisco ISD football teams remain undefeated entering Week Six of the season.

Over in District 7-5A Division II, Frisco has made plenty of headlines after starting off 5-0, which includes its most recent triumph last Friday in a thriller over the reigning district champions, Reedy.

Although the Raccoons have not cracked any statewide polls following their red-hot start, they still remain in the driver’s seat for a potential undefeated district title in 2019.

Lone Star has also kicked things off in dominating fashion and sport a flawless record at 4-0 after blowing out Richland, Denton and Little Elm while also upsetting the three-time defending state champion Highland Park.

The Rangers’ achievements thus far have raised eyebrows all across the state and are currently ranked No. 1 in all of Class 5A Division I, undoubtedly making Lone Star the top program in 5-5A Division I.

But there is one more FISD squad yet to lose a game this season that hasn’t necessarily been receiving as much notoriety as the other two.

Independence is also 4-0 to begin the year, matching its scorching start in 2016 in which the Knights finished 9-3 and reached the postseason for the first time.

There is still plenty of football left to be played, but Independence has already proven itself to be a playoff-caliber team in 2019.

But now the question is: Could the Knights be the second-best unit in the district behind only Lone Star?

During the offseason, many pundits coined this district to be a two-team race for first between Lone Star and The Colony, but the Rangers seem to have taken a massive leap far beyond the other seven squads in the district.

Nonetheless, the Cougars are also 4-0 through the first five weeks of the season and still feature many of the top playmakers from last year’s team that brought home a district title.

Future Division I college players spearhead the program once again, including explosive standouts such as reigning district MVP Myles Price, Colorado commit Keith Miller III and Purdue commit Christian Gonzalez.

On paper, The Colony should be right there once again with the likes of mighty Lone Star, but I’m starting to think that it may not even be the second-best program in the district at the moment.

Independence has not only won its first four contests, it has cruised to convincing victories in each and every showdown so far

The Numbers

The Knights average just over 57 points and more than 600 yards of offense per game behind junior quarterback Braylon Braxton.

I ranted and raved all offseason about Braxton, but even I didn’t think he would be this good in just his junior year. Braxton is among the area leaders in various statistical categories with 1,328 passing yards and a whopping 20 touchdowns.

In 2016, Independence was largely a running team with sensational running back Dom Williams stealing the show, but Braxton has transformed this ball club into a two-headed monster with his ability to throw and run the ball at a high level.

It certainly helps to have a stud to throw the ball to and Braxton has just that in senior wide receiver Khiyon Wafer, who has taken the area by storm. In a star-studded district loaded with talent at the receiver position, Wafer has solidified himself as one of the best with 21 catches, 552 yards and 10 touchdowns – accounting for half of Braxton’s touchdown tosses so far.

The offensive numbers between Independence and The Colony are nearly neck and neck, but where I believe these two sides separate themselves is on the other side of the ball.

The Knights are allowing just 12 points per game and have not allowed a 50-yard rusher in any contest. In fact, this defense hasn’t given up more than 73 yards on the ground in any game this season, while also limiting Liberty to just 28 yards last week.

Level of Competition

One can make the argument that Independence is simply taking care of business against opponents it should be beating, and it’s fair to note the Knights’ four victories has come against teams with a combined record of 4-13 in Richardson Pearce, Frisco Memorial, Denton and Liberty. Independence has done as expected, winning those four ballgames by a combined margin of 45.4 points.

The Knights have yet to be truly tested, but I think that says more about themselves and not their opponents from week to week.

On the other hand, The Colony hasn’t seemed as invincible as it was last season when it cruised through the district slate unscathed.

The Cougars are fresh off of a 42-35 win over Centennial, and although a win is a win, The Colony certainly looked to be more than just seven points better than the Titans heading into the matchup.

A plethora of penalties, untimely turnovers and its inability to consistently run the rock almost handed the Titans the upset, but that hasn’t been the only time the Cougars have had to scratch and claw their way to a win this season.

Just before its bye week, The Colony faced a 38-26 halftime deficit to Byron Nelson (0-4) before a 21-yard touchdown grab by Gonzalez with one second left on the clock completed the comeback effort.

Perhaps the results would be similar for both sides had the schedules been swapped, but as of now the evidence shows that the Knights very well could be marching ahead of the Cougars in the coming weeks.

It’s a shame that these two won’t settle this debate once and for all until the second to last week of the season on Nov. 1 at Tommy Briggs Stadium.

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