Independence High School (Charlotte, North Carolina)

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Independence High School
Mecklenburg County North Carolina Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Charlotte highlighted.svg
1967 Patriot Dr
Mint Hill (Charlotte), NC 28227
Coordinates 35°11′50″N 80°41′14″W / 35.1973°N 80.6872°W / 35.1973; -80.6872Coordinates: 35°11′50″N 80°41′14″W / 35.1973°N 80.6872°W / 35.1973; -80.6872
Type Public
Motto "Ensuring success for all students
Established 1967
Principal David LeGrand
Staff 141 teachers
Number of students 2,150
Color(s) Green and Gold
Mascot Patriots
Nickname the Big I, Indy
Average SAT scores (2014) 1420[1]
Average ACT scores (2014) 17.6
Graduates (2014) 84.5%

Independence High School (or, The Big I) is a high school in Mint Hill, North Carolina (with a Charlotte mailing address). The school mascot is the Patriots and the school colors are green and gold.


The school no longer has magnet programs, since the International Baccalaureate program was relocated to another school several years ago. However, the Academy of International Studies has now been incorporated into Independence, creating a 'school within a school' feeling. This program is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and encourages students to be aware of both their communities and the world.[2] In 2006, more than twenty students participated in an exam to be able to attend the Governor's School of North Carolina, a state-sponsored program for extremely gifted students, established by NC senator Terry Sanford. The previous year, six students from Independence met all the requirements to participate in the School. The requirements include writing two essays and receiving teacher recommendations.[3] Though school officials expected more students to be accepted into the program, only two students made the cut in 2007.


In sports, Independence High School, also known as "the Big I"or"Indy" is a member of the Southwestern 4–A Conference,[4] along with the following schools:

Most notably, the Independence varsity football team, coached by Tom Knotts, won 109 straight games[5] and won seven straight North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) State Championships (4–AA). As of November 24, 2006, the Big I held the second longest winning streak in high school prep football, and also held the most consecutive wins in US public high school football history. Their streak was ended, however, On September 1, 2007 when Cincinnati Ohio's Elder High School defeated Independence in overtime, 41–34.[6] Former Head Coach Tom Knotts has won 7 NC 4A Record of State Championships, 6 state championships won at Independence and 1 at West Charlotte. Independence High has won an additional State Championship under Coach Bill Geiler in 2004. He also has the best winning percentage of any NC head football coach to coach at least 20 years or longer. He has also taken every school he has coached at to the state championship, including his current team Dutch Fork, who are the reigning 2013 4A SC Division 1 State Champions, defeating the perennial powerhouse Byrnes Rebels along the way. Coach Knotts is a legendary high school football coach in Charlotte, NC due to his strong coaching style, his long successful Head Coaching resume, scouting style, practice plans, turning average schools into powerhouse programs ( Harding, Independence, Dutch Fork) West Charlotte was a storied program when he started coaching there. Independence High School has the record for public school football win streak with 109 straight wins without a loss.[7] De La Salle High School holds the longest win streak at any level with 151,they were a private school, allowed to recruit and were an all boys school.

The Patriots continued the winning streak in the absence of Head Coach Tom Knotts in 2004 when assistant Coach Bill Geiler became the head coach. In that year Independence had its strongest year of its streak and the most dominant year in the history of the state averaging 54 points a game and averaging 8 points against them. Coach Knotts left for a season to be the quarterbacks coach for Duke University (Durham, North Carolina) Blue Devils football program, but returned to Independence after a single season at his alma mater. After Coach Tom Knotts left Independence in 2009 Coach Bill Geiler took back over as head coach for three years from 2010-2012.[7]

During the 2006–2007 season, ESPNU was prepared to televise the November 3 Independence vs. Butler matchup, but North Carolina High School Athletic Association rules prohibit the live broadcast of regular season high school football contests on Friday night. Because it was the last Friday of the regular season the playoff brackets were scheduled to be published the next afternoon making a Saturday game impossible. In that game, the Patriots squared off against the David W. Butler High School Bulldogs, another Charlotte-Mecklenburg School, located in neighboring Matthews, North Carolina. The game was played at American Legion Memorial Stadium, located in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. Butler, a formidable adversary, was touted as the one team in that season which might actually end the Patriots winning streak, but the Patriots squeaked out yet another win in double overtime. Butlers' Ryan Houston fumbled in the first half of the second overtime period. Independence tailback Dequan Leak scored three plays later and the game was over.[8]

The NCHSAA sold broadcast rights for the state finals to News 14 Carolina and that game was carried live on December 9, 2006. The game was played at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, against the Riverside High School Pirates (Durham, N.C.). The Patriots handily defeated the Pirates 49 to 19.[9]

In recognition of their long winning streak, the football team was invited to appear on the NFL pre-game show before the Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, October 1, 2006. Independence alums QB Chris Leak and WRs Mohamed Massaquoi and Hakeem Nicks have gone on to impressive college careers in Florida Georgia, and North Carolina respectively. WR Hakeem Nicks started for the NFL New York Giants and helped them win the Super Bowl in 2011.

Independence's winning streak ended at 109 games on September 1, 2007 with a 41–34 loss to Elder High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. They would go on to lose to the rival Butler Bulldogs in the last game of the 2007 regular season by a score of 21–20.[7]

The men's varsity basketball team also won the NCHSAA State Championship (4–A) in 1997 versus Richmond Senior High who ironically would become a notable football rival of the Patriots. The woman's varsity volleyball and softball teams each have state championships to their credits.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "America's Top High Schools". The Daily Beast. IACq. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation". How We Work. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "NC Governor's School Nomination Requirements" (PDF). NC Governor's School. NC Governor's School. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "NC Southwestern 4A Sports". Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  5. ^ "ESPN High Elite 25 High Football Rankings - ESPN". Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  6. ^ Groeschen, Tom (2007-09-03). "Down goes Independence, 109-game win streak -". Retrieved 2014-06-12. 
  7. ^ a b c "Coach Tom Knotts". Home Teams Online. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Butler and Independence prepare for another collision". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "4-AA Championship". 4-AA Championship. TWC News. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "N.C. woman is new Miss USA". Charlotte Observer. April 20, 2009. Retrieved September 12, 2012. 

External links[edit]