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Southern Hills Edition


Strongsville High School

Stories: 28
Mustangs looking ahead after first varsity season

On the surface, a final record of 5-10 might not seem like something to celebrate. But in retrospect, the Strongsville boys lacrosse team will surely look back at the 2015 season with a sense of accomplishment. The Mustangs took a huge step this past season, competing for the first time as an official varsity team. The program was promoted from club status a year ago thanks to a vote of the Strongsville School Board. Former club team assistant coach Adam Wiggins was named head coach, and the Mustangs embarked on their new journey. \"It was pretty monumental to come under the wing of...    (3140 reads)

Lacrosse '15: Mustang boys push past Blue Devils

It was a big week for the Strongsville boys lacrosse team. In the midst of an eight-game losing streak, the Mustangs broke back into the win column to start the week with a 17-7 win over Cleveland Heights. Then on Thursday, they edged arch rival Brunswick, 13-12, at Pat Catan Stadium to raise their season record to 4-8. It was just the fourth loss of the season for Brunswick, which went on to lose a 15-6 decision to Shaker Heights...    (3291 reads)

Lacrosse '15: Devils bounce back, rally past 'Dogs

After seeing their six-game win streak fall by the wayside, the Brunswick boys lacrosse team bounced back in a big way earlier this week. On Monday, the Blue Devils brushed aside back-to-back losses to Walsh Jesuit and Sylvania Northview. They hosted Olmsted Falls and produced a convincing 12-6 win over the Bulldogs to move to 7-2 on the season. Noah Smith and John Cellura were the big guns as Brunswick rallied from a 4-1 first quarter deficit. Both players scored hat tricks with their three-goal outbursts, while dishing out one assist each. The Blue Devils scored five goals in the second quarter and another five in the third to take an 11-5 lead heading into the final...    (4902 reads)

River boys lax rallies in final minutes, stun 'Stangs

Down 4-2 after three quarters, things looked bleak for the Rocky River boys lacrosse team. Nothing like a three-goal rally to change all of that. The Pirates scored three unanswered goals in the final 12 minutes of regulation to come away with a hard-fought 5-4 win over Strongsville Wednesday night at chilly Rocky River Stadium. It was the home team\'s second win in its last three games after starting the season at 0-4. Senior Ethan Steele scored first in the quarter to pull the Pirates back to within one goal, then sophomore Michael Snow tied it up at 4-4. Senior captain Nick Rodgers sent the home crowd home happy with his game winner as the Pirates moved to 2-5 on the season. Rocky River hosts North Canton Hoover...    (4699 reads)

Baseball '15: Mustangs put together a solid week

Nobody could argue that it\'s been a pretty good week for the Strongsville Mustangs. With the weather finally breaking, the Mustangs went 4-0 this week in Northeast Ohio Conference play to move to 7-3 overall. It all began at home Monday with a 6-1 win over Mentor. Senior right-hander Alex Barnes went the distance, allowing just two hits and no earned runs. The next day at Brunswick produced a 13-2 win as Strongsville pounded out 15 hits. Jake Bokar led the onslaught, going 4-for-4. Seems like the Mustangs\' senior catcher was just warming up...    (5180 reads)

Cold spell dooms Mustangs in district loss to 'Cats

With one quarter in the books, the Strongsville Mustangs were right where they wanted to be against St. Ignatius. And when Jacob Yezbak drained a 3-pointer early in the second, they found themselves within three points of the third-seeded Wildcats. That\'s when the defending district champions flipped the switch. Over the next five-plus minutes, St. Ignatius scored the game\'s next 18 points. That stretch proved too much for the Mustangs to overcome as the Wildcats moved on with a 74-54 win in Thursday night\'s Division I district semifinal game at Midview. Strongsville, making its first district appearance since 2011, finished its season at 7-18. St. Ignatius, now 16-8, will return to Kubuski Gymnasium to face undefeated Lorain Saturday night for a shot at another district championship. The Wildcats, playing without the injured Dre\'Mont Jones...    (3081 reads)

Mustangs clip Eagles, win sectional championship

Every year, high school basketball brings us great moments when it comes to tournament time. There are the long-awaited matchups, the occasional upset specials and those feel-good stories that always make March memorable. Well, nobody is feeling any better right now than the Strongsville Mustangs. The Mustangs, winners of just five games during the regular season, have advanced to the Division I district tournament at Midview. On Saturday night, they notched their second tournament road win as they defeated eight-seeded North Olmsted, 65-52, to win their first sectional championship since 2011. \"This is incredible...\"    (5745 reads)

Transition game sparks Warriors past Strongsville

With one quarter in the books, the Strongsville girls basketball team had gone toe-to-toe with visiting Walsh Jesuit. The Mustangs, with just one senior on their roster, had played through their first-game jitters and were within striking distance of the experienced Warriors. But in the second quarter, the visitors switched their game into another gear. Walsh Jesuit, switching to a zone defense, brought the Mustang offense to a halt, holding the home team to just two second-quarter points. The Warriors picked up the pace offensively as well and gradually pulled away for a 48-34 win Friday night in the season opener for both teams. Strongsville, with guard Taylor Stroemple the only senior in the lineup, stayed close early on. A jumper from 5-11 junior Taylor Hall pulled her Mustangs within four points, 14-10, as the first eight minutes of the season came to a close. In fact, a drive for two from junior Sydney Sallee got the home team...    (2361 reads)

Football '14: Bees, Titans to play for SWC, playoffs

Regular season high school football games don\'t get much bigger than this. When 7-1 Brecksville-Broadview Heights entertains 7-1 Berea-Midpark on Friday, there will be much more than just the Southwestern Conference on the line. There will be gigantic playoff points as both teams control their own destiny. And, both teams can likely lock up postseason berths with a win. The victor clinches at least a share of the SWC as well as bragging rights in the biggest slobberknocker of the regular season to date. \"We\'re going to try to work out their anxiety and nervousness in practice,\" Bees head coach Jason Black said. \"We have to be razor sharp...    (8774 reads)

Football '14: Big games loom ahead for Mustangs

Strongsville\'s football team hasn\'t been to the postseason since 2008, but don\'t expect the Mustangs to be green if they make it this year. Their last three regular season games are a virtual who\'s who of Week 11 regulars as Strongsville travels to 7-0 Hudson and 7-0 Mentor with a game against 4-3 Brunswick thrown in between at home. For those keeping track, that\'s the No. 2 in the state this week and the No. 1 squad in Week 10 with the arch nemesis Brunswick coming in Week 9. \"We\'ve already started our playoffs,\" Strongsville head coach Larry Laird said. \"This week\'s game is big for Hudson and Strongsville as far as playoff points go. I\'m sure they want that No. 1 seed. So do we...\"    (9522 reads)

Bears defeat Mustangs, claim share of NOC crown

North Royalton\'s Katie Baird had a message for the rest of the state, and for the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division in particular, following a four-set win at home over Strongsville. \"This shows we\'re no average public school that can beat a couple teams,\" Baird said. \"We\'re the real deal.\" Playing in their last volleyball match in the NOC, Baird and the Bears beat the reigning champion Mustangs 25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23 Thursday night to grab a share of the final Valley Division crown with Brunswick. The two teams split their regular-season series. The Blue Devils, now 19-2...    (4154 reads)

Football '14: Top-ranked Mentor up next for Devils

Brunswick\'s football team knew it had a big game Friday with the state\'s top-ranked team in Mentor back when the schedule came out. After last week\'s last-second loss to Elyria, the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division contest with the Cardinals just became bigger. Up 21-14 with a little over 90 seconds, it all went south when Elyria scored and recovered an onside kick to bring it to a one-point game. With 14 seconds left, Mikah Price hauled in a tipped pass and raced 57 yards for the win. That bumped Brunswick to 4-2 and put them 14th in Division I, Region I. It also landed a magnifying glass the size of Mentor on this week\'s game with the Cardinals. \"That was a tough lesson to learn last week...\"    (8880 reads)

Dream season continues as Mustangs blank Bees

It took a little over four years in the making, but Austin Platt\'s dream finally came to fruition Friday night. A senior who Strongsville football coach Larry Laird called \"a frustrated running back,\" the 6-foot-3, 225-pound defensive linemen made the play that lifted Strongsville to a 20-0 Northeast Ohio Conference cross-division win over Medina at Pat Catan Stadium. Playing defensive tackle and with Medina on the Mustangs 35-yard line, Platt saw a Bees running back sneak out into the flat. Medina quarterback Collin Minor lofted one out...    (4139 reads)

Football '14: Friends meet as Mustangs host Bees

Strongsville football coach Larry Laird will walk to midfield before Friday\'s game with Medina and see a friendly face. That the friendly face will belong to Bees head coach Dan Sutherland is the irony of the situation. Sutherland was an assistant coach under Laird when the Mustangs mentor was the lead man during Medina\'s magical playoff season in 2010. \"It\'s always tough when you go against guys you respect that you\'re friends with,\" Laird said. \"That was a special year for all of us involved. \"For our kids to accomplish all that we accomplished, we were very proud of that fact. No one felt prouder than I did,\" he said. Don\'t get Laird wrong. Once the game starts, it\'s all about improving to 5-1 and staying in the Division I, Region playoff hunt. Strongsville is ninth and would open at Westerville Central if the playoffs started today. The Bees are still looking for a victory, which would be...    (8968 reads)

Medina, Strongsville girls battle to scoreless draw

Wednesday night was a night to showcase just how good the Medina and Strongsville girls soccer teams were. Both already had a resume chalked full of head-turning results. So when the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division game ended in a 0-0 tie at the Ehrnfelt Soccer Complex, it didn\'t come as much of a surprise. After all, the Bees (9-2-3, 3-0-1) were ranked seventh in the state coaches poll and 39th in the nation according to The Mustangs (8-2-3, 2-0-2) were ranked 10th and 38th, respectively. So when the two battled to a draw, both teams walked off with a sense of accomplishment. \"They gave us such a good game,\" Strongsville midfielder and Northern Kentucky commit Anna Brantley said. \"We can\'t even say we...    (4540 reads)

Football '14: Titans jump into the DI playoff chase

The last time Berea made the playoffs in football, Desmond Howard was a rookie in the NFL. The last time Midpark reached Week 11, Gladiator was starring on the silver screen. The years were 1992 and 2000, respectively. Fast forward to 2014, and Berea-Midpark is ready to write an incredible chapter on the gridiron. Currently 3-1 as they head into a key game with Southwestern Conference foe Avon Lake, there\'s a buzz around the Titans, and it is very real. \"The kids are knowledgeable of what this could mean, in terms of a drive in football,\" Titans head coach Ray Hradek said. \"Avon Lake has...    (7732 reads)

Bees return to the top, win NOC tournament crown

Medina\'s boys golf team wanted to make sure it left the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division exactly the way it started it. Champions of the NOC every year but two, 2008 and 2013, the Bees knew it would take a long shot to unseat Hudson in the overall standings. That didn\'t mean they couldn\'t make a statement Monday at the league tournament. And that\'s exactly what Medina did in posting a team score of 305 to walk away with the tournament by shooting its lowest score of the season at Silver Lakes Country Club. \"It feels really good,\" Evan Schreck said. \"We had a couple off-days in matches. It came down to the wire, it really meant something to come out...    (6924 reads)

Royalton spikers fight off Strongsville's challenge

Postseason play for high school volleyball is a month away, but someone must have told North Royalton and Strongsville\'s teams otherwise as the neighboring rivals duked it out like their seasons were on the line in their most recent Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division showdown. Katie Baird\'s decisive match point in Game 4 earned the Bears the hard-fought victory. After falling to the host Mustangs 26-28 in the first game, North Royalton battled back with sets of 25-19, 25-20 and 29-27. \"Every time we play Strongsville, you never know how things will go,\" Bears coach Kristin Hubbell said. \"It doesn\'t matter who\'s having a great season, who\'s not. We get together, and it\'s just a highly emotional match. \"It\'s a battle every time we play,\" she said. The long-standing foes often reserve their most intense encounters each season for the sectional or district tournament. Last year, the Mustangs outlasted North Royalton down the stretch and was...    (4289 reads)

Royalton battles state-ranked Mustangs to a draw

North Royalton girls soccer coach Pete Ragone and his Bears walked out of Ehrnfelt Soccer Complex with heads held high talking about the biggest result of the season on Wednesday. Strongsville mentor Todd Church left his home turf talking about finding a way to take that next step. Either way you look at it, the 0-0 tie between Strongsville and North Royalton in Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division action was either a surprise or a shot in the arm. For Ragone, the ability for his Bears, now 3-3-3 overall and 0-1-1 in...    (4735 reads)

Football '14: Big road challenge awaits Blue Devils

Brunswick\'s football team knows exactly what is on the line this week in a key Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division game with Hudson. It\'s more than just a league game. It\'s arguably THE best matchup in the state. The Explorers (3-0) are unscathed and ranked fourth in the state poll. The Blue Devils (3-0) haven\'t lost either and are ranked fifth. Hudson, which plays host to Brunswick, is coming off a huge win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights. The Blue Devils knocked off Austintown-Fitch 41-27. \"I know the physicality in which they play is really good,\" Explorers coach Ron Wright said. \"I was impressed with them...    (8310 reads)

Mustangs find way to persevere in win over Bees

Sometimes mistakes of the past are the very reason for success in the future. Strongsville\'s boys soccer team, which has been a squad of just-missed wins, used early failures this season and came out on top Tuesday night in a key 3-2 win over Medina at the Ehrnfelt Soccer Complex. The win gave the Mustangs, now 4-4-1 overall, a leg up in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division at 1-0-1, while teaching the squad how to perservere. Five games prior to Tuesday\'s win, Strongsville had a real chance to walk out of a game with Westlake with a tie, but gave up a late penalty kick and came home a loser. The roles were reversed against the Bees (8-2, 1-1) as a late goal was the difference in what had the feel of a...    (4096 reads)

Resilient, unbeaten Mustangs hold on to top Titans

How impressed was Strongsville head football coach Larry Laird with Berea-Midpark after his Mustangs beat the Titans in a slobberknocker for the ages on Friday night? The first-year coach said Berea-Midpark could make a seamless transition to the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division after his team handed the Titans\' a 35-28 loss at Pat Catan Stadium. Consider that the league boasts reigning Division I state runner-up Mentor and playoff regulars Solon and Hudson, not to mention Brunswick, and that\'s saying something. \"Berea-Midpark is a big school with a lot of talent,\" Laird said. \"That\'s a good team. Coach (Ray) Hradek has done a great job in two years. They\'re real good. They would fit right in our conference.\" The Titans, now 2-1, gave the Mustangs all they could handle. Strongsville, now 3-0, had to come back with...    (4252 reads)

Football '14: Unbeaten Titans, Mustangs to clash

It took until Week 5 for Strongsville\'s football team to find its third win last season. Berea-Midpark had to wait until Week 8 for that to happen in 2013. That will change Friday evening as the Titans travel to Pat Catan Stadium on Friday in a key non-conference game with the Mustangs. Both teams enter the game with 2-0 records. \"We\'re confident, but understanding that we have to work to get what we want,\" said Berea-Midpark coach Ray Hradek, whose team lost to Strongsville 29-19 last year. \"It\'s the biggest game right now because it\'s our next game. We know they\'re talented and confident because it\'ll be at their place,\" he said. Hradek also knows the Mustangs have multiple looks to show offensively. In Week 1, Strongsville lost...    (4339 reads)

Demons show heart in a tough win over Mustangs

Every time Westlake\'s boys soccer team was looking for that little extra to get it going, Strongsville was happy to oblige. It added up to a 3-2 win Saturday night by the Demons in a very entertaining non-conference tilt at Reed Field that felt more like a late postseason game. The winner came on a penalty kick off the foot of Omar Salem, but heart was the difference as Westlake, now 4-1 on the season, had an answer when things looked like they were tilting in favor of Strongsville. A step behind the Mustangs in the first half, Westlake gave up a direct kick from 20 yards out to Anthony Santell to give Strongsville a 1-0 lead just 8:30 into the second half. That set the alarm off as the Demons stepped things up drastically...    (6321 reads)

Eagles get their revenge with a win over Mustangs

Successful teams are often taught to have short-term memories. There are exceptions to the rule, however, and Avon used an out clause Saturday in its 3-2 road win over Strongsville at the Ehrnfelt Soccer Complex. Playing the team that knocked them out in overtime of last season\'s Rocky River Division I Sectional final, the Eagles looked to 2013 for motivation. Seven starters were back from last year\'s squad that gave up a goal just before halftime, then lost in overtime to the Mustangs. Fast forward to Saturday, and Avon was fueled by motivation in the road win over Strongsville. \'We wanted this one a lot,\" Eagles midfielder Will Sharer said. \"It\'s definitely one we circled on our calendar. We wanted to get back at them for ending our season.\" And get back Avon did, but it took everything...    (6384 reads)

Strongsville looking to end its long playoff drought

If there\'s one thing Larry Laird knows how to do, it\'s make a first impression. One-year coaching stints at Medina and Avon Lake, even though he was a longtime assistant with the Shoremen, led to postseason appearances for both schools. Laird is now at Strongsville, and the veteran coach has seven words for those wondering how the Mustangs will be. \"We will be back in the playoffs,\" he said. Laird takes over for Russ Jacques, who had been a stalwart at Strongsville for years...    (4205 reads)

A Sporting Viewpoint: New things coming in '14-15

Even as the 2013-14 high school sports season was coming to a close, plans were on the table for 2014-15 here at Throughout the summer, friends would often ask me about how things were going and what we had in store for 2014-15. At the time, there were many things still up in the air and undecided. There were other things we simply needed to keep under wraps. As June turned into July, the questions continued. I would usually just smile and answer with a reply of \"we\'re under construction.\" And as August practices begin, that\'s still not too far from the truth. We\'re far from a finished product as we begin this, our fourth season...    (5701 reads)

Football '14: Laird prepared for Mustang challenge

The adage around coaching circles when taking over programs is you want to be the man that replaced the man that replaced the legend, not follow the legend. Larry Laird doesn\'t know how to do that. In taking over as the head coach for Strongsville\'s football team, Laird follows Russ Jacques. That\'s Jacques, who led the Mustangs to 12 playoff appearances, eight conference titles and three Division I Regional final appearances. Jacques also had assistant coaching stints at Wisconsin, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Ohio University and Bowling Green...    (8873 reads)

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