Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Blue Devils ready to compete

Independence returns five golfers from the squad that finished 9-1 last season leaving the Blue Devils eager to compete this fall.

“We should be able to compete every time we are on the course,” said Independence coach Mike Marcinko. “Last season gave the guys a taste of what it’s like week in and week out and what it takes to be successful. We will do our best to use the past experiences to influence the present and continue to work on improving our skills.”

While the Blue Devils came up just a few strokes short of advancing to the district tournament last year, they’ll return this year hungrier and better prepared.

“The guys have a good base of experience from last season,” Marcinko said. “The five returning varsity golfers are juniors and sophomores, so we still are on the young side. We will have a senior, junior, and sophomore battling for varsity play as well. The situation will make all our rounds of golf, practice, or match day, very impactful on who will play week to week.”

Independence returns two golfers with district tournament experience.

Sophomore Mark Pillar qualified last season as a freshman and junior A.J. Marcinko played his way into the 2019 tournament.

Pillar averaged 39.1 strokes per nine holes last season and 81 in 18-hole rounds. He was named first-team All-Chagrin Valley Conference and second-team All-Northeast Ohio.

“Mark is very talented and focused and is in a position to have a very good fall,” Coach Marcinko said. “His game is top-notch and travels well to any course that we play or conditions we play encounter. Mark is the pacesetter for the team and puts us in a good position to defend our title.”

Marcinko, a two-time first-team All-CVC performer, and two-time second-time All-Northeast Ohio honoree, averaged 42.8 strokes per nine holes last season and 87.6 in full rounds.

“A.J. has shown he is a solid and impactful golfer for our program and in the CVC,” Coach Marcinko said. “He has just started golf activities after suffering an injury in June and will need to rely on past successes as he works back into shape and playing meaningful golf.”

Juniors Charlie DeCapua, Joey Spacagna, and Sam Coddington are expected to round out the starting lineup.

DeCapua was named second-team All-CVC last year while Spacagna was an all-conference honorable mention selection.

“Charlie has put a lot of work in this summer and is ready to make his mark in the CVC. He got a sampling of varsity golf and tournament golf last season, which has fueled his fire to improve his game. Charlie will be a key player in our ability to match last year’s success and win another title,” Marcinko said. “Joey played JV and varsity last season but he is now firmly in the mix for 2021 and is expected to contribute. Joey brings a fiery competitiveness to the course and has the ability to shoot solid scores for us. Sam came on strong late in the season last fall to gain varsity experience. He doesn’t have as many rounds at the varsity level but he has shown he can give the team steady and consistent scoring.”

Senior David Eichler, junior Nick Lucas, and sophomore Liam Jenks also are expected to compete for varsity rounds.

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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