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    Independence knocks off rival to extend winning streak


    Independence got off to a fast start in its rivalry game against visiting Cuyahoga Heights on Tuesday then held off the Redskins down the stretch in a 43-35 victory.

    With the win, the Blue Devils extended their winning streak to eight games.

    “It’s an awesome thing, especially coming in our first year and trying to implement a whole new offensive and defensive system,” Independence coach Kyle Johnson said of the streak. “Kudos to the kids, they’re listening and paying attention to try and put in and play what we’re talking about every day.”

    The Blue Devils, who improved to 11-4 overall and 9-2 in Chagrin Valley Conference play, scored the first 11 points of the game and led 18-8 at halftime.

    They extended the lead to 31-14 after three quarters but allowed the Redskins to sneak back into the game in the final eight minutes.

    “We didn’t finish well offensively,” Johnson said. “We started out great and kind of had a lull in the second quarter. We came out in the third quarter and started playing better. In the fourth quarter, they ramped up the pressure and we kept turning the ball over. That’s something we’ve got to do a better job of, taking care of the ball under pressure.”

    Wyatt Flynn scored a game-high 12 points and Thomas Ceculski added nine for the Blue Devils.

    “The coaching staff told Wyatt and Thomas, the seniors, we told them this is your last Cuyahoga Heights game for your career and they showed up,” Johnson said. “They came out ready to play today and kind of set the tone for us.”

    Adam Miklovic contributed to the win with eight points and Eric Mitrisin added seven.

    Independence will put the streak on the line in a challenging stretch of games beginning on Friday when the Blue Devils host Kirtland (12-2). After that, they’ll host Richmond Heights (13-4) on Tuesday and then they’ll travel to Lutheran West (9-6) on Friday, Feb. 7.

    “We’ll definitely be tested,” Johnson said. “We just have to keep getting better every day. We need to get back to work every day. When we string together good practices we usually play well. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. We just need to string together a couple of good practices and look forward to Kirtland on Friday at home.”

    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. 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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