Although the Mustangs fell short in the playoffs against Pella, it was a memorable season for Independence as they won their first district title in team history.
“I thought our team did a great job all year,” said Independence head coach Justin Putz. “For them to go undefeated in the regular season was the result of a lot of work they put in the offseason, as well as in season. Our guys played physical and disciplined football all year and it showed on Friday nights.”
During the regular season, Independence outscored their opponents by a 360-81 margin. The Mustangs defense also recorded three shutouts; against Oelwein, Center Point-Urbana and West Delaware.
However, Independence was unable to get their offense going against Pella in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. They were limited to 126 offensive yards, no offensive touchdowns and Pella possessed the ball almost twice as long.
Putz said the Dutch were able to control the time of possession by running the ball better than the Mustangs did.
“[Pella] were very athletic and aggressive,” Putz said. “We were not able to get the run game going and that hurt us over the course of the game. Give credit to them for playing really well.”
Despite the playoff loss, it was a season to remember for the Mustangs, as many of their players made an impact during their 9-0 regular season.
“We just told them we were proud of how far they have come and reminded them that one good game or bad [game] doesn’t define a season,” Putz said to his team following their loss to Pella.
Mustangs quarterback Logan Schmitt had an exceptionally strong season, throwing 16 passing touchdowns and rushing for 21 touchdowns. He was 98-for-160 passing for 1,329 yards and rushed for 1,385 yards.
Running back Kaleb Lamphier also left a mark this season, rushing for 727 yards and seven touchdowns, with a 9.0 yards per carry average. He also caught 19 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown.
Six different receivers caught touchdowns for the Mustangs this season; with Blake Bartz, Brady Webb and Cole Davis each catching four touchdowns to lead the team.
Defensively, Independence came up with 22 turnovers. Lamphier had four interceptions; with Schmitt and Marcus Beatty coming up with three picks. Cole Davis led the team with 76 tackles and Christian Kremer led the team with eight sacks.
Independence will graduate 17 seniors from this year’s team, including Schmitt, Lamphier, Webb, Bartz, Kremer, Davis, Matthew Doyle and Brandon Haas.
“This group left a big mark on Indee football,” Putz said. “They won more games than any other group of players did over two years. Winning the school’s first ever title is a great accomplishment and something they can always remember. I also believe they helped show other grades things that can be accomplished in our program by doing it the right way. They also are a great group of kids.”
Returning players for the Mustangs next season includes Beatty, Keegan Schmitt, Spencer Campbell, Caleb Straw and Justin Wood.
Putz said he hopes the playoff loss to Pella helps motivate the returning players for next season.
“I hope they are motivated,” Putz said. “We need a big offseason from our returning guys.”