By James Adams
WEST CHESTER, Ohio - Lakota West dominated Fairfield, 35-3 in a battle of two of the top teams in the Greater Miami Conference Friday night at Firebird stadium.
On paper, this game looked to be more competitive, as both teams were 3-0 in the conference, but the Firebirds crushed the Indians and owned the line of scrimmage the entire game.
Lakota West (6-1) ran the ball for 309 yards, and while six different Firebirds carried the ball, senior running back Mikel Horton was the most impressive with 122 yards on 20 carries plus a score rushing and receiving.
“It’s awesome, because man, he’s good,” senior offensive lineman Landon Johnson said of Horton. “We like to get him going and he knows how to run the ball.”
Lakota West senior quarterback Malik Grove had two touchdown runs on the night, but it was junior running back Kole Gentry that complimented Horton in the run game. Gentry had 14 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown.
“Everybody knows about Mikel and Malik – I think Kole Gentry is that one unsung hero that many people don’t know about,” Lakota West coach Larry Cox said. “We’ve got a three-headed monster back there.”
Lakota West was able to grind away the game, averaging 5.7 yards per play on the ground with 54 rushing attempts. It was steady production all night moreso than big plays that led to the huge night running the ball, as the longest Firebirds run of the game was just 37 yards.
As impressive as the offense was for Lakota West, the defense may have been even better.
Fairfield (6-1) never got going on offense and ended the game with 213 total yards, including only 24 rushing. The Indians were also only able to convert on three of their 13 third-down conversion tries.
The offensive line for Fairfield averages over 280 pounds, plus it has a couple of Division I prospects, but the Indians averaged only 1.3 yards a carry, and it was the Firebirds’ defensive line that deserved all of the attention Friday.
“We stopped them with hard work and dedication,” Lakota West senior lineman Paxston Robinson said. “We’re stronger – we were just too strong for them.”
Lakota West did all the little things right in its lopsided victory. The Firebirds never settled for a field goal while scoring five touchdowns, they held the ball for five minutes more than the Indians, they converted nine of their 15 third- or fourth-down conversion attempts, and they won the turnover battle, 3-1.
“Football hasn’t changed,” Cox said. “We have spread offenses and the no-huddle, but if you can win in the trenches you can win the game and we were able to do that on both sides of the ball.”
Lakota West looks to move its winning streak to seven next Friday when it travels to take on the Princeton Vikings (2-5).
Fairfield will try to rebound from its first loss of the year next Friday when the Indians host the Sycamore Aviators (5-2) in a game with massive playoff implications.