Since December of last year, Bahakel Sports Director, Jeff Taylor has sat down with athletes, coaches and others to talk about the high school sports scene in Charlotte.
Independence Patriots are Ready to Sit Alone on the Throne
CHARLOTTE, NC – A former player turned seasoned coach, a young team and a winning spirit. All of these are just a few of the things that make up the Independence Patriots.
The Independence Patriots found themselves in a unique scenario at the end of last season. The team finished out their second year under head coach Darryl McFadden Jr. with a tri-conference championship. An achievement that only left them feeling empty.
“Of course we have done tremendous things but like I keep telling them; we went 11-2 and nobody got anything. I didn’t get a raise, they didn’t win the conference out right, we didn’t win a state title. So there is still work to be done,” said McFadden Jr.
However, in McFadden’s manual for how his tenure would begin; year two ended with a conference championship and two postseason wins. Eerily close to how the season turned out. The result fueled a boost in confidence for his prediction of year three.
“And if you look in that manual right now, year three I have contend for a state title. I think we have the guys to do that, we still have a lot of work to do, still trying to figure out who we are a little bit and that happens you know. In the summertime, you spend the summertime trying to instill that coaching and figure out who you are as a team,” said McFadden Jr.
The hunger is shown in the hard work his team endures each day.
“We area a physical program, we are fundamentally sound and we will be disciplined on and off the field,” said junior quarterback Justin Little.
And a little bit of confidence never hurts.
“I am one of the best in the conference, I am the best in the conference. I am one of the best in the state,” said Little.
With such a young team, how you set and maintain the tone is crucial. McFadden Jr. believes that often starts with defense; more specifically the sophomore calling the plays.
“I feel the weight on my shoulders but I also put some of the weight on my shoulders. So it’s not really a pressure thing, but I also put the pressure on myself to be one of the best guys on the team,” said sophomore linebacker Dallas Brannon.
Brannon knows there will be freshman on both sides of the ball playing the same role he did, and he is ready to be that example.
“There are a lot of guys on the team that have not played the last few years or played jv and haven’t really gotten opportunities to get on the field. Really don’t have anything, don’t have the offers they want things of that nature. So they got something to work towards, we are hungry this season,” said Brannon.
That motivation stems from the former Patriot and seasoned coach at the helm.
“Because it hits different. I have walked the same halls they walk. I have practiced on the same fields and so now that I am at the top, yeah it means a little something to me. I will not allow this school to get back to the place it was at,” said McFadden Jr.
The Independence Patriots kick off their season at Memorial Stadium against Mallard Creek High school in the Charlotte Kickoff Night on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at 8 p.m.