Quick start propels West to big win over Fairfield

Jiovionni Wilson of Lakota West looks for room to run against Fairfield at West on Oct. 1, 2021. Nick Graham/STAFF
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Jiovionni Wilson of Lakota West looks for room to run against Fairfield at West on Oct. 1, 2021. Nick Graham/STAFF

Firebirds win sixth straight game, stay perfect in GMC play

WEST CHESTER TWP. -- If any first play can be called the turning point in a game, Lakota West ran it against Fairfield on Friday.

After receiving the opening kickoff in a Greater Miami Conference game at Lakota West, Firebirds junior quarterback Mitch Bolden connected with senior wide receiver-defensive back Alex Afari on a 54-yard pass that Afari carried to the Indians 7-yard line before fumbling. Lakota West retained possession and senior running back Cameron Goode went 1 yard four plays later to get the Firebirds rolling to a 42-10 win.

“We knew since Monday that it was going to be our first play,” said Bolden, who launched a similar pass get Lakota West on its way to a 24-0 win over Princeton on Sept. 10. “It’s demoralizing.”

“You can see it in their eyes,” Goode added. “You do that on the first play, their heads are down.”

Bolden ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more as the Firebirds, ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Division I state poll and No. 4 in the Division I, Region IV Harbin computer rankings, improved to 6-1 overall and 5-0 in the GMC with their sixth straight win.

Lakota West went into Friday’s game in a three-way tie for first place in the GMC that was whittled to two after Lakota East edged Colerain, 7-6, when the Cardinals missed an extra point on their home field on Friday. The Firebirds and their intra-district rival Thunderhawks are scheduled to meet in the regular-season finale.

The win was Lakota West’s second straight in the series after a four-game Fairfield win streak. The Indians did come away with three turnovers – senior cornerback Rais Fataki’s interception and fumble recoveries by junior safety Matthew Humbarger and junior running back-linebacker Kavi Bivins.

Once Lakota West got the momentum on Friday, it never let it go. Senior defensive back/wide receiver Jyaire Brown recovered an Indians fumble on their first possession, and Bolden converted with a 1-yard plunge for a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.

“I think those first two drives put us in a state of shock,” Fairfield coach Jason Krause admitted. “It was 14-0 in a blur. They got the big pass play. They’re a good football team that takes advantage of opportunities. You can’t help them.

“When we saw Afari in the slot, we knew the ball was going to him. He ran right through our defensive back.”

“I like the way we started with the big ball,” Lakota West coach Tom Bolden. “When we take care of the football, we’re a pretty good offensive team. When we’re flying around on defense, it’s tough to move the ball on us.”

What Bolden wasn’t happy about was Lakota West’s numerous penalties, especially for holding.

“We’ve got some things we have to clean up, but you know what?” he said. “When you’re playing fast and loose and aggressive, those things are going to happen. I was a big fan of the way the University of Miami (Fla.) played. I look out there and I’m like, ‘We look like the “U,”’”.

While Lakota West came up with two turnovers, including senior defensive back Tyler Sparnell’s interception, Tom Bolden knew his son would wake up Saturday morning feeling worse about the interception he threw and the fumble he committed than he would feel good about the four touchdowns in which he was involved.

“That’s one of the greatest things about him,” Bolden said. “He’s evolving.”

Mitch wasn’t waiting that long, he said.

“I had four touchdowns during the game, but it didn’t feel like it,” he said.

The Firebirds host Middletown next Friday. The Indians host Mason.