The Lakota West Firebirds (1-4 overall, 0-2 in the Greater Miami Conference) will be underdogs when they visit Middletown (4-1 overall, 1-1 in the GMC) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Lakota West’s only win this fall came at Anderson (20-14). The Firebirds have losses vs. Winton Woods (27-21), vs. Elder (35-10), at Princeton (27-21) and vs. Oak Hills (25-21). Meanwhile, the Middies only loss came last Thursday night against Colerain (21-13). Middletown also has wins against Wayne (32-31), at Troy (29-21), vs. Winton Woods (21-14) and at Oak Hills (46-13).
Lakota West: The Firebirds have suffered back-to-back losses to conference opponents after having fourth quarter leads in each game. Offensively, led by senior running back Marcus Davis, Lakota West has some firepower. Davis has already rushed for 654 yards (second most in the GMC) and two touchdowns on 128 carries this fall. The senior is averaging more than 130 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, sophomore quarterback Tyler Jones has thrown for 686 yards (second most in the GMC) and eight touchdowns (second most in the GMC). The first-year starter also leads the conference in interceptions with six. Jones’ top targets are seniors Bubba Williams (11 rec. 159 yards and 1 TD) and Kayaune Ross (8 rec. 193 yards and 4 TDs). Defensively, Lakota West has 10 sacks, six forced fumbles (recovering four) and has two interceptions this fall. As a team, Lakota West is averaging 267 yards of offense per game and is allowing 350 yards per game on defense.
Middletown: The Middies feature many big names; including one on the sidelines in head coach Troy Everhart. Middletown’s new coach previously led Winton Woods for 11 years and led the Warriors to a Division II state championship in 2009. He also served as the coordinator of recruiting services at the University of Cincinnati. On the field, Middletown features one of the region’s most-recruited players in junior quarterback Jalin Marshall. According to Yahoo! Sports, Marshall has offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and UCLA. This season, Marshall has rushed for 625 yards (third most in the GMC), thrown for 385 yards and has nine total touchdowns. Marshall’s senior teammates running back E.J. Junior (offer from Cincinnati), defensive back Cody Quinn (Illinois commit) and wide receiver Zach Edwards (offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Miami) have also garnered attention from Division I college programs. Defensively, senior linebacker Jaylen Herring leads Middletown with four sacks. As a team, Middletown is averaging 359 yards per game on offense and is allowing 246 yards per game on defense.
Bottom line: While Lakota West has played much better than its 1-4 record indicates, it should have trouble keeping up with all the talent on Middletown. To make matters worse, Middletown is coming off its first loss of the season. Both teams have their similarities on offense, featuring mobile quarterbacks, a workhorse running back and a pair of playmakers at wide receiver. That being said, Lakota West has the ability to pull off an upset. However, when comparing the two teams’ only common opponent, the chances appear to be slim for Lakota West. The Firebirds lost to Oak Hills last Friday at home by the score of 25-21, while Middletown defeated Oak Hills on the road two weeks ago by the score of 46-13.