When it comes to Williamson County football, one team in particular hasn’t been talked about much this season compared to others.
Brentwood has been the class of Region 6-6A so far going 5-0 and opening region play with a 20-point win over Summit. Ravenwood has closely followed suit winning four straight since opening the season with a loss to Alcoa.
While those two schools typically get most of the buzz, Scott Stidham’s Independence Eagles have quietly put themselves in a position to compete for the top spot in the region. After three straight weeks of overtime games, two of which they won, the Eagles made a statement Friday night traveling to Beech and picking up a 28-7 win in dominant fashion.
“I didn’t know if it was possible for us to win in regulation following our last three games,” Stidham joked after the game. “I’m really happy for our kids and the fans who made the trip. Our kids had a great week of practice and we knew what we were playing against.
…Beech is a great program. We played well and got the breaks we needed.”
Stidham ball displayed at its finest Friday night
Anyone familiar with how Stidham’s teams played at South Gibson during his time in Medina got a taste of that experience Friday night in Shackle Island.
Only passing when it was absolutely needed, the Eagles (3-2) relied heavily on their run game. That game plan consisted of a lot of misdirection counters and several option plays.
That mix proved to be a problem for the Beech (2-3) defense who struggled with it all night long. Stidham also had a quarterback who was able to run it to perfection. Luke McNeilly accounted for three of the Eagles’ four touchdowns on the night scoring each on the ground and had a couple of huge completions to keep a few scoring drives alive.
“He’s a special young man with high character and toughness,” Stidham said. “You got that in someone who is also a good athlete that’s coachable, you’ve got someone special. He played well tonight and keeps getting better each week.”
For McNeilly, the night was just sweet all around.
Not only did his team pick up an important road win before the meat of their region schedule heats up, he noted that he felt like they proved a lot of doubters wrong.
“From the start we had a chip on our shoulder with everyone picking against us,” McNeilly said. “We used it as motivation. It seems like every week we’re getting picked against but this time we followed through with it and picked up the win.”