Tag Archives: Independence

high schools

Independence hopes makeover helps success

by Jason Stone

When Independence High School football coach Kelley Moore arrived to campus three years ago, all he heard from players was the same question.
“Everybody kept asking me, ‘When are you leaving?'” Moore said. “They said, ‘Nobody stays here.'”
The revolving door of coaches and administrators on campus was real. The football team, in fact, had three coaches in three years prior to Moore’s arrival.
But since then, the football team has had the same coach for three years, the school is going on its third straight year with the same athletic director (Mike Siwek) and the school’s facilities are being upgraded to help the school’s sports teams compete with others.4c50a14535446.image
Instead of coaches and students defecting to other schools, Independence is now hoping to have a selling point to keep students and coaches on 75th Avenue.
“With (new nearby school) Kellis High School going state of the art with their facilities, we had to do something to give students some shopping,” Siwek said. “We were losing a lot of kids to neighboring districts. Now, they’ll want to stay here.”
As part of a $80 million bond passed for the Glendale Union High School District last November, Independence is getting an all-weather track installed this summer and is making big improvements like the construction of a two-story media center/science building and small touches like a fresh coat of paint for the first time in more than a decade.
“Having the all-weather track will be outstanding,” said Moore, who took over a team that won no games and led them to their first region championship in more than 20 years last season.
Moore said, “We have one of the fastest girls in the state right across the street, but she went to Peoria (High) because we don’t have an all-weather track. Hopefully, that will keep some people here.”
Sports success and Independence have not gone together in the same sentence very much. But school officials are hoping that will turn around.
Track participation has already increased greatly in anticipation of the new surface.
Four years ago, the school had only 17 athletes on the track team. Last season, 94 athletes participated.
The gym is receiving an air-conditioning unit this summer, replacing the evaporative cooler that failed to keep the big building cool and played havoc with badminton matches because of the gust of wind it created.
“It gets warm and moist in there, especially the beginning of the year,” Siwek said. “Now, we won’t have that.”

Published at glendalestar.com • June 8, 2005

high schools

Deer Valley wrestlers are big local winner

by Jason Stone

A month long of prep playoff action started in earnest last week at Glendale Arena.
Deer Valley was the big local winner at the 5A and 4A wrestling tournament as the Skyhawks took fifth as a team and 125-pounder Jared Schmidt took second overall.
Glendale Arena hosted the championships of all five wrestling classification tournaments, beginning a month of action the Arizona Interscholastic Association is calling “February Frenzy.”
Deer Valley totalled 111 points, finishing behind Highland (183), Red Mountain (157), (Mesa) Mountain View (156.5) and Mesa (129.5).
Five Skyhawks wrestlers placed individually, the only local wrestlers to do so in 5A.
Schmidt had the best finish as he nearly won a state title before losing 4-2 to Spencer Jasper of Highland in the championship match.
Nick Detloff, a 135-pounder from Deer Valley, took third in the 135-pound weight class, while Josh Wade (130 pounds), Dan Stevens (145) and Jesse Whitson (152) each took sixth place in their respective weight classes.
Ironwood (37th) and Mountain Ridge (45th) did not have any individual placers.
In the 4A tournament, no local teams made the top 10, but Independence came close with three wrestlers placing individually.
J.J. Sanchez (215) and Diamond Johnson (heavyweight) each took fourth place in their respective weight class, and Edgar Guerra took sixth at 189 to help the Patriots finish 14th as a team.
Independence ended up with 56.50 points to fall behind top teams Sunnyslope (first at 235.5), Thunderbird (180), Mingus (142), Payson (117) and Moon Valley (110).
Other local team finishes included Apollo (33rd) and Cactus (35th).

Published at glendalestar.com • Feb. 21, 2005

high schools

Football playoff race tightening up

by Jason Stone

There are only three weeks to go before the 5A and 4A football postseason begins, meaning local teams have only three more shots to jockey for playoff positioning.
In 5A, Deer Valley missed a great shot at setting itself up for a postseason spot last week when it lost in the final minute to Maryvale.
The Skyhawks now need to win out — including Friday at Trevor Browne — and get help from other teams to make the playoffs.
Mountain Ridge, meanwhile, stayed on course with a big win over Trevor Browne and is still unbeaten in the Northwest Region.
Likewise, Ironwood stayed perfect in the Desert West Region and plays a tough game against Sunrise Mountain this week. The game has major playoff implications.
In 4A, Independence comes off a huge emotional victory to play Apollo, which stayed in the playoff race with a win over Cactus Shadows last week. This year’s battle takes place at Apollo.
Cactus blanked Shadow Mountain to remain unbeaten and plays at Bradshaw Mountain this week.
Glendale High, which fell to 2-6 last week, travels to McClintock.

high schools

Independence defeats Greenway for first time ever

by Jason Stone

Kelley Moore knew the love existed. The Independence football coach just figured people were afraid to show it.
But emotions flowed on Greenway High School’s field last Friday night after Independence, a team opponents used to schedule for their homecoming, won perhaps the biggest game in the school’s 25-year history.
For the first time in two decades, Independence is in the driver’s seat for a Desert Sky Region championship and one of 16 4A playoff spots.
Only one other time has Independence made the playoffs and won a region title. And according Moore’s records, never have the Patriots beat Greenway.
“The emotion that poured out of the parents let me know how big it meant to them,” said Moore, who has lifted the Patriots from one victory in 2001 — the year before he arrived — to a 6-2 mark entering this week’s big game at Apollo.
“Hang a banner,” said junior Marshawn Ross. “That’s all we’re thinking about is hanging a (region championship) banner.”
For Independence to reach its goal, it will have to get past a dangerous game this week against Apollo. The Hawks have lost the last two against Independence and are hoping the Patriots suffer a letdown after the historic win.
“We can’t let up now,” Moore said. “Every game is a must win. We knew we had to run the table.”
Defensive performances like the one Independence turned in against Greenway could lead to the Pats running the table.
After Greenway grabbed a quick 13-6 lead with two quick second-quarter scores, Independence’s defense played at a championship level.
The Pats forced the Demons to punt on their first four possessions in the second half and stopped a last-minute rally attempt.
Independence, which took the 14-13 lead before halftime with a quick TD pass and 2-point conversion, played ball control for the second half, but gave up the ball with only minutes remaining in the game.
Greenway shot itself in the foot by dropping a potential 20-yard pass. Independence then iced it by intercepting a desperation fourth-and-long attempt with under a minute to go.
Until that moment, the game was up in the air and Patriots’ fans became visibly tense in the stands as Greenway moved the ball, needing only a field goal.
But Independence made the plays that did not go its way in year’s past.
“We don’t have any delusions of grandeur that we’re one of the top 5 or 10 teams in the state,” Moore said. “We just want to make the playoffs and be one of the top 16 at the end of the year.”

Published at glendalestar.com • Oct. 21, 2004

high schools

Greenway goal for Independence

by Jason Stone

Independence High School football coach Kelley Moore has tried to take away some of the pressure of playing Greenway this time, by saying the team is focused on making the playoffs rather than just beating one team.
But even the third-year Patriots coach admits, “This is the big one.”
Greenway is the perenial champion in the Desert Sky Region. For Independence to make the postseason, Moore said, it needs to win the region to gain the automatic qualifier. To win the region, the Patriots know they have to beat Greenway.
“The road still goes through Greenway,” Moore said.
The game highlights a series of battles that should help clear up the playoff picture as the season’s second half enters full swing.
Cactus (6-0), which rallied from a 29-point deficit in the first half last week, hosts Shadow Mountain (2-4) in another 4A game.
Apollo (2-4) tries to end a two-game losing streak at winless Cactus Shadows (0-6), while Glendale (2-5) hosts Thunderbird (4-2).
In 5A matchups, Mountain Ridge (2-4), which held on to beat a pesky Goldwater team, travels to Trevor Browne (3-3); Deer Valley (3-3) hosts Maryvale (4-2), while Ironwood (3-3) plays at Westview (2-4).

Published at glendalestar.com • Oct. 14, 2004