Lakota West football hopes streak-busting upset of Colerain is ‘springboard’ for greater success

Tom Bolden
Tom Bolden

The Lakota West High School football team cleared a hurdle last week that no one in the Greater Miami Conference had been able to overcome in more than a decade. Firebirds coach Tom Bolden already is looking at the next obstacle.

West went on the road to beat perennial powerhouse Colerain, 10-0, in the season opener Friday, snapping the Cardinals’ 87-game win streak against GMC opponents that dated back to 2008. However, Bolden is quick to remind his players that was just the first step toward the goal of a GMC title this season.

The Firebirds now turn their focus on Week 2 opponent Hamilton, whom they host Friday.

“It was a huge win for us, no question about it, but obviously there is a lot more football to be played,” said Bolden, who coached at Colerain from 2007 to 2018 but didn’t play the Cardinals during the regular season last year. “I allowed myself to enjoy it the whole weekend and then Sunday night moved onto Hamilton. It was a big hurdle, a great win for our program, our school and our community and hopefully it’s the springboard to get us in the right direction.”

Bolden was in his second season as the head coach at Colerain the last time the Cardinals dropped a conference contest – a 42-39 loss to Jason Krause’s Middletown Middies on Oct. 3, 2008. He doesn’t want West to assume things will get easier after beating Colerain the first game of the season. The Cardinals still won a GMC title in 2008 and will have a chance to secure their 21st straight conference championship.

Hamilton is coming off a back-and-forth battle with Princeton, falling 33-28 after the Vikings scored the go-ahead touchdown with 16 seconds left, and West still had plenty of things to improve on from its win Friday.

“That’s one game,” Bolden said. “We’re playing a Hamilton team Friday night that has the talent to beat us, no question. I remind them, ’That’s done. We’re moving on. Don’t forget about the past, but you can’t just look at the past or the future won’t set itself up for us.”

West can build confidence from how its defense played Friday, though. Colerain hadn’t been shut out since dropping a 16-0 loss to St. Xavier in the 2009 opener, and the last shutout loss at home was probably at least 20 years ago, Bolden said. The Cardinals lost 7-0 to St. X in a home game played at a neutral site in 2005.

Aden Miller sealed the shutout for West’s defense, picking off Tyler Prather at the 16-yard line with 2:25 remaining after Miller on offense had pushed the Firebirds lead to 10-0 on a 19-yard run with 9:05 left.

“The defense is legit,” Bolden said. “We check all the boxes on paper, and they played like it Friday. They are physical, fast, play with an edge -- that’s a trademark of myself and coach (Carlton) Gray and how we would like to be defensively. Even Aden would tell you so many guys on defense played a great game. He just happened to have the lone touchdown run and sealed it with the interception, but the defense from front to back was solid. I think they only had 34 yards at the half, which is quite impressive.”

West also is led on defense by returning linemen Andre Proffit (Akron) and Aneesh Vyas, who is likely headed to an Ivy League school, and boosted by the additions of transfers such as linebacker Kameron Vargas, who was the Northwest District Division I Defensive Player of the Year at Whitmer (Toledo) last year, and Ohio State commit Jyaire Brown, a cornerback who moved in from Louisiana.

Hamilton will test the Firebirds’ defense again with running backs Kaleb Johnson and Keyshawn Stephens and quarterback Quincy Simms-Marshall leading a dynamic offense.

“They’ve got some great football players,” Bolden said. “We have to make sure we are in the right spots defensively, and if we are in the right spots and our guys just be ourselves and play like we can, we will be alright. “Offensively, we need to take care of the football. If we can sustain drives and don’t turn it over, it’s hard to drive consistently on our D.”