Saturday, October 1, 2022

Trinity wears down Independence

BEDFORD—For 24 minutes, Independence’s young football team proved it had what it takes to play well on Friday nights. Unfortunately, with just 23 players suited up, the Blue Devils ran out of steam and fell to Trinity, 33-7, at Bearcat Stadium.

Independence’s roster includes just three seniors—including a soccer player turned kicker—10 sophomores and four freshmen. Several players were sidelined due to injury and a few more succumbed to cramps during the game, but the Blue Devils played hard for 48 minutes.

“They are giving me everything they’ve got,” said Independence head coach Rick Adams. “I can’t ask for anything more. If we were out-hustled or if we were out-talented than it’s one thing, but our kids really played hard. We had to keep a couple guys off the field because of cramps. That’s tough when you’re going to your third or fourth guy.”

The Blue Devils, who dropped to 0-2 on the year, forced a Trinity punt on the game’s opening possession then drove to the Trojans’ 11 before a penalty moved them back to the 23. The Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs when they failed to convert on fourth-and-13.

Trinity (2-0) had a 26-yard touchdown pass erased by a holding penalty and the Independence defense held on 4th-and-5 at their own 15 to keep the game tied at 0-0.

On the first play following an Independence punt, Trinity’s Andrew Kenaga raced 67 yards for a touchdown. Anna Hawersaat added the extra point to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead with 5:37 left in the half.

The Trojans threatened again but Independence’s defense held on 4th-11 from its own 12 as time expired in the second quarter.

A turnover on the opening possession of the second half led to Trinity’s second touchdown, a 1-yard run by Mike Costanzo.

Independence then drove 50 yards in 12 plays but couldn’t punch it in from the Trinity 2.

“We really came in thinking we could score a lot of points tonight,” Adams said. “We drove the ball in the first half and had two opportunities but we didn’t capitalize. Obviously, I’ve got to do a better job getting these guys in the end zone. As a coaching staff we’re going to figure it out.”

Trinity quarterback Kyle McSweeney connected with John Caja on a 60-yard touchdown pass and Kenaga and Costanzo both scored again in the fourth quarter for the Trojans.

Independence’s Ben Artrip, who completed 10-of-27 passes for 125 yards and rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries, scored on an 8-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Artrip converted from fullback to quarterback to fill a hole for the Blue Devils.

“This was his second game at quarterback,” Adams said. “He’s learning. He’s been a running back his entire career. This is new for him and he’s only a junior. It’s a process.”

Nick Mroczynski recorded two sacks for the Blue Devils.

Kenaga rushed 15 times for a game-high 192 yards and Costanzo added 102 yards on 12 carries. McSweeney completed 11-of-19 passes for 149 yards to become Trinity’s all-time leading passer.

The lopsided score won’t sit well with Adams and his players but they left Bearcat Stadium knowing they were down just 14-0 entering the fourth quarter.

“We’re a young team,” Adams said. “When you have two seniors out there it’s going to be a growing process and we’re going to go through some growing pains. The touchdown down here, we easily could have had it. It’s a big time learning process for a lot of these guys. We’ll get there. The thing I’m happy with is they’ve never shown any quit and they battle. That’s really going to pay dividends for us down the road.”

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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