Independence put together a memorable season in 2009, racking up nine
wins and earning its first playoff berth since 2003. Leading the way was
Joe Mancino, a first team All-Ohio RB who rushed for 1,440 yards and 22
touchdowns. He’s back.
2009 Record: 9-2
* Players To Watch – RB Joe Mancino (5-9, 170, sr.), QB/DB Sam Stretar (5-11, 175, sr.), C Sean Moore (5-10, 190, sr.), FB/DE Nick Kraus (6-1, 215, sr.), ILB/FB Cole Nelson (5-10, 190, jr.), OL/DL Jacob Solomon (5-11, 200, jr.), SE/DB Aaron Mathews (5-11, 165, sr.), OL/DL Greg Mrugacz (5-11, 225, sr.), TB/DB Justin Kotlarsic (5-10, 160, jr.)
* Outlook – Independence put together a memorable season in 2009, racking up nine wins and earning its first playoff berth since 2003. Leading the way was Mancino, a first team All-Ohio RB who rushed for 1,440 yards and 22 touchdowns. He’s back.
Things will look a little differently, though, for the Blue Devils this season as head coach John Shirilla stepped down to coach his sons in another school district. Taking over will be James Jackson, who spent the last 11 years as defensive coordinator for Independence.
“After coming off a very successful season, a return to the playoffs and a head coaching change, there is a tremendous amount of excitement that surrounds the program,” Jackson said.
The Blue Devils will be aiming to stay on a roll.
“Making the playoffs last year has renewed the team’s desire to be a fixture in the postseason tournament,” Jackson said. “A solid ‘blue collar’ offseason has proven that this team is hungry. The return of the entire backfield including Mancino will be an asset. The defense will be young, but it will maintain its aggressive style of play.”
The Blue Devils will be faced with the challenge of replacing 15 lost starters. Four starters return on offense and three on defense.
“Experience is the main concern,” Jackson said.
* Schedule – Schedule-wise, Independence will face three good tests before heading into a conference slate that includes 2009 playoff teams in Hawken and Cuyahoga Heights.
“Our independent schedule consists of a much bigger school in Streetsboro, and then we host Western Reserve Academy and round it out with a game against Lutheran West, who is always a tough, well-coached team,” Jackson said. “These three games should have us ready to go to open up conference play.”
9/3 at Berlin Center Western Reserve
9/10 at Rocky River Lutheran West
9/17 Burton Berkshire
9/25 at Beachwood
10/1 Fairport Harbor Harding
10/8 at Gates Mills Hawken
10/15 Middlefield Cardinal
10/22 Richmond Heights
10/29 at Cuyahoga Heights