Monday, January 30, 2023

Kirtland preps for post-season with rout at Independence

INDEPENDENCE—Kirtland’s Adam Hess ran for a 47-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and the Hornets went on to defeat Independence, 59-0, on Alumni Field at Stan Skoczen Stadium on Friday.

The win was the 25th straight for the Hornets, who finished the regular season 10-0 for the fifth straight season. The Hornets now have won 55 straight regular season contests, dating back to Sept. 24, 2009.

“It’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “I’ve got a great staff that’s been with me for eight years and I think the consistency really helps. We’re running the same plays at every level and I think that really helps too.”

It certainly helped on Friday as the Hornets outgained the Blue Devils, 520-189.

Jacob Boyd ran for a game-high 174 yards on eight carries and Hess added 115 yards on eight rushes. Boyd scored three touchdowns on runs of 47, 6 and 52 yards and Hess added four scores on runs of 47, 17, 3 and 7 yards.

Playing without starting quarterback Thomas Hockenberry, who suffered a knee injury in last week’s loss to Cuyahoga Heights, Independence struggled to mount an offensive attack against the Hornets’ defense.

Austin Buc, who started the game, and Jason Bianco combined to complete 9-of-22 passes for 86 yards for the Blue Devils. Steve Schmetzer led Independence with 77 rushing yards on 19 carries. Austin Buc had four catches for 56 yards and Buc had two receptions for 22 yards.

After falling behind 18-7 at Beachwood last week, Kirtland got off to a fast start and never looked back.

The Hornets led 35-0 after the first quarter and 56-0 at halftime.

“We wanted to pick up the urgency, the intensity,” LaVerde said. “It’s time to get serious. We got out of here healthy, which was important. I thought the kids played well in the first half. We just want to move forward and get better every single day. This is when it’s a lot of fun right now.”

Kirtland’s win also clinched a home playoff game for the fifth straight season.

“We just want to get a home game,” LaVerde said before it became official. “We’ll find out (Saturday) night who we get and that’s all we focus on. You can’t at this point in the season look past even one play. We’ve got week 11 and that’s all we’re going to focus on is whoever we end up getting in the first round.”

Independence finished the year at 5-5.

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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