Monday, February 6, 2023

Blue Devils cruise to win at Lutheran West

ROCKY RIVER — Independence hit the road for the first time this season on Friday and felt right at home in knocking off host Lutheran West, 41-14.

“I’m really happy,” said Independence coach Rick Adams. “We saw on film that they are really aggressive with their linebackers with the blitzes. A lot of our passes we had runs called, and our quarterbacks, and receivers did a great job seeing the openings and made the plays we worked on all week. The kids did a great job.”

The Blue Devils opened the game featuring the pass as they gashed the Longhorns for 61 yards through the air.

“We moved the ball every drive,” senior wide receiver Jason Bianco said. “Our line was holding it, and our quarterbacks were getting good looks.”

The drive culminated with a 16-yard score as senior quarterback Ben Artrip found Bianco, giving the Blue Devils a lead they’d never relinquish.

Bianco had himself a busy night, pulling down seven passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

“I just caught the ball and put it in the end zone,” he said. “I owe most of that to the quarterback and the line for getting it to me in the first place. It was so fun. The last couple of games we’ve been pounding it more and running ball, but today we kept in the air and they couldn’t really stop us, so that was definitely a good experience.”

Bianco’s second score — an 11-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter — came on the back end of a 3-yard dash by senior running back Kevin Clymer that staked the Blue Devils to a 21-0 advantage.

Clymer rushed the ball eight times for 57 yards.

Independence junior quarterback Kyle Stefanski relieved Artrip and captained a touchdown drive late in the first half that saw Stefanski scamper in from 22 yards out on fourth down.

“(Stefanski) made a great run for a touchdown and kept a lot plays alive tonight with his legs,” Adams said.

Stefanski found Clymer for a 13-yard score early in the third quarter that blew the game open at 34-7.

Not to be outdone, Artrip reentered the contest and capped his night with a 14-yard touchdown run. Artrip finished with 96 yards on the ground to go alongside 84 yards passing and two touchdowns.

“He’s worked hard all offseason and this is his best games of his three,” Adams said. “This week was just fantastic. He saw the open areas. When we had run pays called, he made good reads on the zone and he played well defensively.”

Stefanski added 86 yards through the air and a touchdown.

“Both are really good quarterbacks and do a really good job of complementing each other,” Adams said.

Independence senior running back Jack Giganti rushed for 105 yards on nine carries, which included two 20-yard runs.

The Blue Devils defense stymied the Longhorns offense all night as the defensive starters only surrendered one score.

“The coaches had the kids prepared defensively the best we’ve had all year,” Adams said.

Independence (2-1 overall) looks to build on this performance next week when it hosts Cardinal.


Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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