South Opens Season With Hard-Fought Victory Over Independence


Photos By Henry Barrios-- Full gallery HERE





The South High football team went into its season opener against Independence on Friday night with a highly detailed game plan.


But it was the Spartans ability to adjust on the fly that was the key to their 22-12 victory over the Falcons at West High’s Kilgore Stadium.


After allowing Independence to take the game’s opening possession and quickly drive 62 yards for a touchdown, South made some changes to its defensive scheme and allowed just 195 yards over the final 46 minutes and 58 seconds of the non-league contest.


“They got us that first series, but it’s a long game and we adjusted well (to what they were doing),” South coach Cary Mills said. “We really slowed them down after that.”


The Spartans defense harassed Falcons quarterback LaDon Denmark all game long, sacking the senior signal caller three times while pressuring him into leaving the pocket and running with the ball numerous other times.


Despite being constantly hounded, Denmark accounted for 206 yards of offense (137 passing and 69 rushing).


South’s offense took awhile to get rolling, accruing just 16 yards and zero points during its first two possessions.


Early in the second quarter the Spartans finally found paydirt when Prince Ellis took an inside handoff from Deeshawn Brown and dashed 1 yard into the end zone, capping off a 10-play, 80-yard drive.


Brown, who rotated with Shane Carr at quarterback, ran in the 2-point conversion attempt, giving South an 8-6 lead.


The Spartans scored touchdowns on two of its next three possessions to pull out a 22-6 lead. That was more than enough cushion for South’s stingy defense.


Eight different players carried the ball for South, which rushed for 167 yards on 36 carries.


The elusive Carr led the way with 80 rushing yards. The lefthanded junior also passed for 57 yards and a pair of touchdowns.


“I just felt like, I’m not getting tackled,” Carr said. “…They’re a good team, but we’re better.”


Four plays after entering the game at quarterback for the first time late in the second quarter, Carr found Damareyah Wafford streaking wide open down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown pass.

That score gave the Spartans a 15-6 halftime lead.


South wasted no time after the intermission extending its advantage 22-6.


Seven plays after Bryson Carson returned the second half kickoff 77 yards, Carr zipped a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ellis.


The Falcons immediately answered with a 59-yard scoring drive that ended with Anthony Rico carrying the ball into end zone from 6 yards out.


However, the Spartans defense held firm the remainder of the game, ensuring South its third win in nine games all-time against Independence.


“Great job (by our defense),” Mills said. “Our philosophy on defense is, we’re going to bend. We know we’re not going to stop everything. But when teams get down near the end zone Coach Brown does a good job of calling up the plays that make the stops. Our defense was good all night.”


Mills told his team after the game that he was extremely proud of them for how they played.


“We’ve had a lot of drama these past two weeks and they just really rallied together tonight, and they played really well as a team,” Mills said.


Independence had its fair share of drama heading into the game. The Falcons were recently off for 14 days due to COVID-19 issues.


“We came into here with really just four days of fall camp and first week of season practice,” Independence coach Tyler Schilhabel said. “It showed. We weren’t prepared in some areas, but we’re going to go back and see what we did wrong, see what we did right, build on what we did right.”


Despite the loss Schilhabel feels that his team isn’t far from where it needs to be.


“I think there was a lot of positive,” Schilhabel said. “We don’t really have to fix a whole lot. We don’t feel like we’re 10 miles away. We’re a mile away. Just got to fix some little things and we’ll be good to go.”



Independence     6    0   6   0-12

South                    0   15  7   0-22


First Quarter

IHS-Jonathan Vigil 5 pass from LaDon Denmark (kick blocked)

Second Quarter

SHS-Prince Ellis 1 run (Deeshawn Brown run)

SHS-Damareyah Wafford 44 pass from Shane Carr (Gregorio Lopez Salazar kick)

Third Quarter

SHS- Prince Ellis 4 pass from Shane Carr (Gregorio Lopez Salazar kick)

IHS-Anthony Rico 6 run (run failed)



RUSHING-IHS: LaDon Denmark 17-69, Evan Peaker 7-44, Anthony Rico 1-6, Jonathan Vigil 1-1; SHS: Shane Carr 11-80, Deeshawn Brown 7-37, Prince Ellis 6-26, Marcell Avery 1-12, Bryan Ochoa 3-9, K’Shawn Foster 3-7, Arthur Robledo 1-3, Davontay Garrett 3-(-4), Team 1-(-3).


PASSING-IHS: LaDon Denmark 10-18-0-137; SHS: Deeshawn Brown 4-6-0-60, Shane Carr 3-5-0-57.


RECEIVING-IHS: Evan Peaker 4-67, Anthony Rico 2-48, TJ Stocker 2-16, Jonathan Vigil 2-6; SHS: Damareyah Wafford 2-52, Prince Ellis 3-31, Marcell Avery 1-20, K’Shawn Foster 1-14.


RECORDS-Independence (0-1); South (1-0)


JV-Independence 6, South 0








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