Repeat after "We" 3

Independence High School putting team first in its title defense.

Start unknown, finish unforgettable. It might as well have been last year’s slogan for Independence High School. The Eagles, coached by Scott Blade, capped off their undefeated season with a Class 5A state title, the first in school history.

As whimsical as last season may have been, Blade and his team aren’t focused on the past, but rather the future, improvement being the focal point. And it begins with building a ‘team first’ mentality.

“We celebrated last year and it was a wonderful time but we know this is a different team and we’re trying to get better each day,” says Blade.

The new season brings inevitable changes to the starting lineup, most notably with senior Brandon Hines taking over as quarterback. What Hines lacks in experience, he makes up for in work ethic and Blade has faith that his new starter will meet the expectations put on him.

Another big change comes with transfer Troy Henderson. The junior running back is poised to have a big season with the Eagles and adds a new threat to an already stout lineup.

When asked about the new addition, Blade immediately commented on Henderson’s quickness, but is most impressed with the newcomers instincts: “I think he’s got terrific vision; that’s one thing with running backs that’s hard, if not impossible, to coach.”

Standout returnees include safety Landon Guidry, middle linebacker Hunter Dupress, cornerback Montray Steele, nose guard Michael Pierce, Michael Weathers from the offensive line and David Demke from the defensive line. All are seniors who Blade commended for their maturity and outstanding leadership.

Blade and his team are aware of the bull’s-eye now placed on their program. After coming out of nowhere and winning in such a grand fashion, Blade knows this year the Eagles will be on the receiving end of every team’s best effort to beat them. What the Eagles are truly focused on are the variables they can control: getting better every day and coming together as a team. “The wins and loses, they’ll come as they may,” says Blade. “But if we’re taking care of the things we can control, then the rest will fall into place.”