Lakota East football fans light up the night during a 35-0 win at Lakota West on Sept. 29, 2017, in West Chester Township. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Prep football: Playoff hopefuls East, Sycamore want to extend season

LIBERTY TWP. — Rick Haynes isn’t paying much attention to all the scenarios for the Division I, Region 4 playoffs.

His Lakota East High School football team will close the regular season at home against Sycamore on Friday night, and Haynes said the Aviators are far higher on his priority list than the Harbin computer rankings.

“You can’t play Week 11 unless you win Week 10,” Haynes said. “Thinking about anything else beyond that is a waste of time.”


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The Thunderhawks and Aviators are 6-3 Greater Miami Conference squads. The winner seems likely to be a postseason qualifier, even though that’s not automatic, according to And the loser may or may not be eliminated, depending on other results.

“I think it’s very even, and to be honest, that’s what it should be in a game like this,” Aviators coach Scott Dattilo said. “It’s two quality teams that have had good years and want to put the exclamation point on the regular season and get a spot in the playoffs. It’s hard to get there.”

East, which will honor 27 seniors during Friday’s Senior Night festivities, hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2014.

“This will probably be a typical GMC game,” Haynes said. “Sycamore’s well-coached and physical. The team that turns it over less is probably going to win. It’s not very complicated.”

The Thunderhawks are averaging 253.6 yards per game on the ground with their triple-option attack. Senior fullback Jack Dobrozsi (138 carries, 917 yards, 18 TDs) and senior quarterback Sean Church (117 carries, 675 yards, 10 TDs) lead the way.

“They’re big. They play downhill. They’re hard to tackle,” Dattilo said. “They run the triple option like a machine. If we weren’t playing them, I’d say it’s pretty fun to watch.”

Sycamore has won three of its last four games, defeating Middletown, Hamilton and Oak Hills while taking a 40-7 loss at the hands of Fairfield.

Dattilo said his crew is coming together and starting to figure things out.

“We’re getting more consistent,” Dattilo said. “It’s been a weird year for us being so new and young and inexperienced. I think it just took us some time to find out what our strengths are and how to hide our weaknesses. We’ve got some guys who were a little wet behind the ears that are starting to play pretty good ball.”

Senior inside linebacker Ryan Draughn and junior outside linebacker Apollo Ford are keying the defense for the Aviators, who have beaten East the last three years by a combined score of 103-44.

“We’re doing some good things on defense,” Dattilo said. “We’re challenged a little bit with our size, but our kids are gritty. We’re giving up some yards, but we’re also not letting teams in the end zone a ton.”

Friday’s game

What: Sycamore (6-3, 4-3 GMC) at Lakota East (6-3, 5-2 GMC), 7 p.m.

Where: The Hawks’ Nest, 6840 Lakota Lane, Liberty Township

Series: Tied 8-8, but Sycamore has won the last three meetings, including 40-13 in 2017

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