State football playoffs: Battle of Lakota high schools highlights Week 2

Lakota West football team salutes Hamilton with their helmets up after their game Friday, Sept. 4, 2020 at Lakota West High School in West Chester Township. The Firebirds on Friday host district rival Lakota East in a second round playoff game. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Lakota will get a chance to have its district rivalry football game played during a season it wasn’t on the schedule, and what better scene for it than in a playoff atmosphere.

The two Lakota high schools, East and West, will meet in a Division I, Region 4 second-round game 7 p.m. Friday at Firebird Stadium.

“It obviously heightens the importance of the game, not that it needs any more but I think it does help,” East coach Rick Haynes said.

Top-seeded Lakota West (6-0) enters as the reigning Greater Miami Conference champions and coming off a second straight shutout win after beating West Clermont 44-0 in the first round last week. Coach Tom Bolden has been pleased with the defense leading the team, while the offense also has taken some steps under sophomore quarterback Mitch Bolden and a running back by committee ground game.

Lakota East (4-3) is on a roll with four straight wins following some close losses to open the season.

“We lost a tough one to Sycamore (34-31), lost a close one to Mason (28-21), then I thought we played LaSalle pretty well but we turned it over three times and got inside the 30 three or four times and came away with no points,” Haynes said. “Our kids felt better than our record, they kept plugging along, and we had a good game against Princeton and have been better ever since.”

“I think our defensive line has improved the last couple weeks,” Haynes added. “We’re getting healthy, had two guys nicked up that are coming back, and five new starters on the offensive line, so they are playing better.”

T.J. Kathman leads the Hawks' triple-option offense with 703 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, and he adds 504 yards rushing. Josh Thornhill adds 387 yards rushing and five touchdowns.

Facing the GMC champions is good opportunity to prove that, Haynes said, noting anyone at this stage would be a test even with all teams making the postseason this year.

“They have a great defense, Tommy has done a great job the last two years so it’s a great measuring stick,” Haynes said. “They’ve only given up 20 points, so that sticks out, but offensively they do some things. They’ve got a good quarterback. You can tell he’s a coach’s son – he makes good decisions and manages the game.”

Badin advances

Badin High School’s football team will have to wait another week to make its 2020 playoff debut.

Wapakoneta, the Rams' opponent in Friday’s Division III, Region 12 playoff game, had to forfeit the game because of three positive Covid-19 tests among its team. according to Wapakoneta Daily News.

Badin Athletic Director Geoff Melzer confirmed the cancellation of the game.

Second-seeded Badin (6-0) advances to face the winner of Friday’s Tippecanoe-Mount Healthy game on Oct. 23.

The Rams, who ranked fifth in this week’s Division III state poll, received a first-round playoff bye and last played Oct. 3 -- the regular-season finale -- against McNicholas.

Turning a corner

Monroe gave second-year coach Bobby Mullins his first playoff win last week after making a long drive to Elida and prevailing 27-10 in a Division III, Region 12 opener.

The Hornets (3-4) have won three of their last five, with one of those losses being a two-point margin against Oakwood. Now No. 21-seeded Monroe, which had two wins last year, looks to keep it going when it plays No. 5 seeded-Ross (5-1) in a Division III, Region 12 game.

We are a lot better than what our record is,” Mullins said. “We’ve lost some games because we haven’t protected the ball. You are what your record is, but if you don’t turn the ball over, you feel like you could have come out with some wins instead of losses. It’s the playoffs, so whoever wins moves on and whoever loses goes home. For us to go up there, seeded 21 and them the No. 12 seed, two hours away and come home with a win, I’m really proud of everyone involved.”

“We feel we are playing our best football right now and our kids are playing with a lot of confidence because we have had the success on the field. They are doing a great job executing our gameplan and doing what they are coached to do. Kids are buying in and focused on getting better every week. We feel like if we do that, we have a really good shot at winning any Friday night.”

Ross had a first-round bye and is on a roll with five straight wins since an opening loss against Badin.

Mullins said he feels good about the progress of his team heading into the matchup, thanks to fewer turnovers and solid run defense. Offensively, Elijah Jackson (841 yards rushing) leads the league in rushing, while Collin Deaton has been solid at quarterback.

The defense has been helped by some personnel changes, as Tanner Chastain has moved from inside to outside linebacker and C.J. Miles went from linebacker to defensive line. Inside linebacker Wyatt McPherson is leading the team with 12.0 tackles per game as a sophomore.

“Ross is a very good football team,” Mullins said. “They are big up front on their offensive line and physical. They want to run the ball, and it’s going to be a tough challenge for us.”

Also in the mix

Edgewood, Talawanda, Franklin, Madison and Carlisle also earned first-round playoff wins last week and will continue the journey, while New Miami join Ross as area teams just getting started after first-round byes.

No. 8-seeded Edgewood has an extra week off after Division II, Region 8 second-round opponent Troy had to forfeit following a positive test on its team. The Cougars will resume play next week against Winton Woods or Xenia.

Also in that region, Talawanda, seeded No. 13, travels to play No. 4-seeded Kings on Friday.

In Division III, Region 12 play, No. 2-seeded Badin meets No. 18-seeded Wapakoneta at 7 p.m. Friday at Monroe, while No. 9-seeded Franklin plays at eighth-seeded St. Mary’s Memorial.

No. 10-seeded Madison faces No. 7-seeded Springfield Shawnee on the road in a Division V, Region 20 game on Saturday, while No. 17-seeded Carlisle travels to play Roger Bacon. Eighth-seeded New Miami enters the playoffs against No. 9-seeded Fayetteville-Perry on Friday in a Division VII, Region 28 matchup.

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