HS football: No letdown for Lakota West in win over Hamilton

If Lakota West had any kind of a football hangover from its historic win on August 28, the signs were hard to detect.

Sophomore quarterback Mitch Bolden threw for three touchdowns and ran for a third and the host Firebirds strung together six straight touchdowns in an 40-13 Greater Miami Conference win over the Hamilton Big Blue on Friday night.

Lakota West is 2-0 in the GMC for the second time in two seasons with Tom Bolden as coach.

The Firebirds, of course, were coming off that remarkable 10-0 win at Colerain that snapped the Cardinals’ 12-year GMC win streak.

“Obviously, a game like that is very emotional, but it’s one of those things where you have to put it behind you and move forward,” the former Colerain coach said. “Hamilton has some wonderful athletes. You saw how they took it right down the field on us. That woke us up a little bit.”

Bolden felt the entire post-Colerain week sort of summed up the entire, coronavirus-plagued season and year.

“We had Senior Night in the second week,” he pointed out, referring to Lakota West’s pre-game ceremony. “They (Hamilton) had Senior Night last week. We keep telling the guys, ‘It’s not week-to-week. It’s day-to-day.’”

Senior linebacker Kweisi Jones, who returned an interception for a touchdown that gave Lakota West the lead for good, worked with his classmates to make sure the Firebirds stayed focused.

“We had to keep them under control,” he said. “Colerain was huge, but we kept reminding them to take it day-by-day. We had to put it behind us.”

Junior running back Keyshawn Stephens gained a team-high 59 yards rushing on nine carries and led the Big Blue with four receptions, including its only two touchdowns. Hamilton, trying to shake off a last-minute home loss to Princeton in the opener, had an aggressive offensive game plan against Lakota West, which helped lead to the turnovers. The Firebirds turned three into touchdowns.

“You’re not going to beat a team like that by playing conservatively,” said Hamilton coach Nate Mahon, who described the Firebirds as “bigger, faster, stronger.”

The Big Blue is scheduled to face neighboring-rival Fairfield on Friday on its home field at Virgil Schwarm Stadium. The Firebirds are scheduled to play on Friday at Sycamore.

Hamilton scored on the opening drive, utilizing a run-pass mix to drive 51 yards. Senior quarterback Quincy Simms Marshall rolled to his right and found Stephens wide open on an out pattern. Stephens completed the 16-yard scoring play with 9:27 left in the first quarter.

After not turning the ball over once last week against the Vikings, the Big Blue committed turnovers on its next three possessions. Lakota West junior Alex Afari came up with an interception on the Big Blue’s second possession, but the Firebirds’ drive stalled. Senior defensive lineman Andre Proffitt forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Silas Walters at the Hamilton 32, and Bolden converted with a five-yard run.

Jones helped give Lakota West a 14-7 lead with a 29-yard return of an interception. The touchdown was his first on the varsity level.

“It felt amazing,” he said. “I was going to do a touchdown dance, but I knew Coach Bolden would kill me, so I tried to keep it classy. It was a wide receiver’s dream.”

Jones was reminded that the touchdown gave Lakota West the lead for good.

“That was huge,” he said. “That pick-six was a momentum swing. After that, the offense did its job.”

Bolden and senior Caleb Rao teamed up on a 38-yard TD pass with 1:27 left before halftime. Bolden found wide-open classmate Trent Lloyd for a 19-yard TD pass in the third quarter and went back to Rao for a 24-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.

Junior defensive lineman Bryan Henderson recovered a Big Blue fumble in the fourth quarter that junior running back Cameron Good turned into a touchdown with an eight-yard run. Marshall and Stephens teamed up on a 31-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds left in the game, leaving Stephens with four touchdowns over Hamilton’s first two games of the season.

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