Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Blue Devils ground the Skippers

It seems like forever ago since Independence lost in overtime to Columbia back in Week 1 but the Blue Devils haven’t forgotten that dejected feeling as they walked off the field with an 0-1 record.

On Friday, Independence cruised to a 46-0 win at Fairport Harding to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

“The kids are buying in,” said Independence coach Rick Adams of his team’s four-game win streak. “They started believing in themselves and are getting a lot of confidence.”

That confidence came via the ground game at Fairport.

The Blue Devils rushed for 312 yards with Kevin Clymer doing the bulk of the work. He carried 12 times for 117 yards. Jack Giganti rushed for 46 on two carries with the majority of his yards coming on a 43-yard touchdown scamper. Kyle Stefanski added 40 yards on six carries, Nick Mroczynski toted the rock nine times for 43 yards and Jason Bianco ran two times for 39 yards. Ben Artrip also had 34 yards on four carries.

Brandon Lesh, an offensive lineman, gave the Blue Devils an early lead when he scored his first career touchdown.

“We put him in the backfield and gave him a carry,” Adams said. “He scored on a one-yard run.”

Stephen Molchan then caught a 14-yard pass from Stefanski. The Blue Devils failed to convert the two-point conversion but led 13-0.

Giganti popped off his long touchdown run and Clymer followed that up with a six-yard scoring run. Artrip closed out the half with a four-yard touchdown scamper to give the Blue Devils a big lead at halftime.

Bianco scored on a 36-yard run in the third quarter and Mroczynski found the end zone in the fourth to put an end to the rout.

Stefanski completed 5 of 8 passes for 83 yards and a score while Artrip was 2 of 7 for eight yards.

As good as the Blue Devils were on offense, Independence’s defense was even more impressive.

The Blue Devils held the Skippers to 98 total yards and forced three turnovers.

“We were winning first down,” Adams said. “I definitely thought the (defensive) line did a great job not allowing any pushes from their offensive line. There were a lot of stalemates or tackles in the backfield. I thought everybody played well defensively.”

Molchan had a direct impact on that performance when he laid out the Fairport quarterback early in the game.

“Stephen Molchan had a tremendous hit on their quarterback early,” Adams said. “That was a huge factor because he went out for a couple series. That really set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Independence hosts defending Division VI state champion Kirtland (5-0) on Friday.

Steve Harehttp://www.ohiovarsity.com
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes OhioVarsity.com, 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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