Anyone searching for the best Division II football team in the state might want to talk with Independence High School football coach Alan Jones.
The veteran coach certainly would qualify as an expert on the subject after watching Louisville post a 60-24 victory over his 76ers. Independence ends its season at 7-4. Louisville, which lost to Cincinatti Anderson in last year's state final, moved to 11-0 and will play undefeated Logan in the second round Nov. 7.

"They're a great team," Jones said of the Leopards. "I would pick them right now to win everything. They've got a great group of guys. It's a class program, and we just got it handed to us. Sometimes you bite the dog, and sometimes the dog bites you."

Independence, which trailed 18-12 after the opening quarter, scored first when senior Jordan Ross went 78 yards just three plays into the contest. The Sixers tied the score at 12 later in the period when sophomore quarterback Eric Pugh hooked up with Sam Smith, who outfought a Leopard defender and raced 75 yards.

The game turned in the second quarter, however, when Louisville outscored Independence 35-6 and took a 53-18 lead into the break. The Leopards piled up 464 yards on 34 offensive plays in the opening half.

"I think we matched up speed-wise," Jones said. "I think precision-wise, they were a little sharper than we were. Their execution, I hadn't seen anything like that in a long time. I knew that they were going to be trouble speed-wise, and I knew that they were going to execute. I told our guys that we were going to have to execute the entire game, which we didn't."

Led by junior tailback Devin Clodfelter, the Sixers have a group of young talented players who are looking to build on the season, which included a 51-17 victory over Marion-Franklin.

"I'm still proud of our guys," Jones said. "I'm still proud of our coaching staff. It's been four years since we've been here, so I've been blessed in that nature. We're going to keep on plugging away. We're going to keep on fighting."

INDEPENDENCE 18 35 7 0 - 60
LOUISVILLE 12 6 0 6 - 24
I -Ross 78 run (pass failed)
L-Swigart 15 pass from Seaman (kick failed)
L-Seaman 3 run (kick blocked)
I-Smith 75 pass from Pugh (run failed)
L-D. Mathie 52 run (run failed)
L-Minster 10 pass from Seaman (B. Mathie run)
L-D Mathie 39 run (pass failed)
I-Jones 40 pass from Pugh (pass failed)
L-Minster 51 pass from Seaman (Lohmeyer kick)
L-D. Mathie 2 run (Lohmeyer kick)
L-D. Mathie 7 run (Lohmeyer kick)
L-Seaman 5 run (Lohmeyer kick)
I-Clodfelter 5 run (kick failed)