No sharing for Lakota West, which wins 2nd straight outright GMC championship

Firebirds finish perfect in conference play after 34-7 win over rival Lakota East

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

WEST CHESTER TWP. -- Different school, same outcome for Tom Bolden.

After coaching Colerain to 12 consecutive Greater Miami Conference outright or co-GMC championships, Bolden now has led Lakota West to back-to-back titles for the first time in school history. No Lakota team – East, West or Lakota back when the two high schools were one – ever has won back-to-back GMC titles.

The Firebirds clinched their second consecutive outright championship with a convincing 34-7 win over district rival Lakota East on a misty Friday night at Lakota West’s Firebird Stadium. The game drew a parking lot-challenging packed house that saw the Firebirds force four turnovers and turn two into touchdowns, along with junior defensive back Malik Hartford’s blocked punt that senior defensive Alex Afari alertly scooped up and returned 30 yards for another touchdown that left Lakota West leading, 17-0, with 8:15 left in the third quarter.

“The kids were talking about how we at least got a share of the championship after last week. and we said, ‘We don’t want to share anything,’” Bolden said as his players celebrated behind him, holding aloft the GMC championship award.

Bolden’s son, Lakota West junior quarterback Mitch Bolden, was 5-for-8 for 76 yards and two touchdowns – both to wide receiver and classmate Trent Lloyd – and senior running back Cameron Goode sealed the deal with a 67-yard scoring run with 5:23 left in the game

“It feels amazing, especially doing it against your rival,” said Lloyd, who is in just his second varsity season and has two GMC championships under his belt. “It’s huge. To see so many people come out is amazing.”

The 8-1 and 7-0 Firebirds, who lost to St. Xavier, 31-14, in their season opener, will take an eight-game winning streak into next week’s postseason opener against an opponent that had to be determined. They went into Friday’s game third in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Division I, Region 4 Harbin computer rankings. Lakota East, which finishes the regular season 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the GMC with losses in their last two games, was rated fifth in the region.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Junior fullback Eric Davis gained 82 yards on 22 carries and senior quarterback T.J. Kathman scored the Thundehawks only touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions, one by Lakota West senior linebacker Aden Miller after being hit while throwing by sophomore defensive back Jacb Asbeck. Lakota West senior defensive back Jyaire Brown came up with the other interception, which Mitch Bolden turned into a touchdown with a 15-yard pass to Lloyd on a pattern called “Knife Bender” installed just this past week into the Firebirds’ playbook.

“That’s a really good football team,” Lakota East coach Rick Haynes said about Lakota West. “We fumbled a pitch and T.J. threw a pick while getting hit. He hasn’t done that all year. We turned it over too much. We’ve got to play better.”

Lakota East actually logged more first downs than Lakota West, 13-10, and possessed the ball for almost 10 more minutes than the Firebirds.

“I was so proud of our defense,” Tom Bolden said. “We grinded it out. We knew it’d be hard-nosed.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Junior kicker Tyler Bohn gave Lakota West a 3-0 lead with a 33-yard field goal with 7:42 left in the first quarter. The two teams traded interceptions with sophomore defensive back Taebron Bennie-Powell grabbing a pick for Lakota East before Mitch Bolden found Lloyd for Lakota West’s first touchdown with 15 seconds left before halftime.

“We practiced that play all week,” said Lloyd, who caught four passes for 64 yards. “It worked perfectly.”

The Firebirds upped their lead to 24-0 on Mitch Bolden’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Lloyd with 2:08 left in the third quarter following sophomore defensive lineman Elijah Davis’s recovery of Bennie-Powell’s fumble.

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