Photos taken by Joseph Fuqua II:
Lakota West earned its first season-opening win since 2006 when it defeated La Salle, by the score of 46-34, late Saturday night in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
Lakota West junior Mikel Horton played a big role in the win, gaining 239 yards and rushing for two touchdowns on 43 carries. To read more about Horton’s performance and how the scoring took place, checkout WestChesterBuzz.com’s game story.
“I told him to keep running hard, keep running hard and the coach is going to feed you,” junior quarterback Malik Grove said. “His goal was to run for 200 yards. I told him that he would get there, if he just ran hard every play and that is what he did. He got the job done for us.”
Speaking of jobs, Grove got the nod as the starting quarterback in Week 1. During the summer, Grove was competing with junior classmate Tyler Jones, who started at quarterback for the first seven games last season.
Jones ended up starting against La Salle as well, but at wide receiver. The two friends connected on a 49-yard pass play, and nearly connected on several other passes that would have resulted in big plays for the Firebirds.
Jones was also involved in the return game, returning one punt for 10 yards and two kickoffs for 37 yards.
After the game, Grove said that he and Jones have been staying after practice to work on their timing. Overall, Grove completed 4-of-18 pass attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown. He, and no any other Lakota West player, committed a single turnover in the win.
Meanwhile, the Lakota West defense and special teams caused La Salle to turn it over five times. Senior defensive tackle Adam Miller forced and recovered a fumble, while senior Luke Scott and senior Tyler Cross each had interceptions in the first quarter. Cross’ interception went for a touchdown after a 17-yard return.
“I said if we don’t commit any turnovers we will win this game,” Lakota West head coach Larry Cox said. “I told our offense that at the beginning of the game and we didn’t turn it over once.”
On defense, senior linebacker Mike Kelly and Scott led the Firebirds with eight tackles each. La Salle’s Nathan Sparks led all players with 15 total tackles.
The Lancers’ future looks bright with freshman quarterback Nick Watson, who came in the game late in the first quarter after starter junior Jake Meyer threw two interceptions.
Overall, Watson completed 22 of his 50 pass attempts for 325 yards and a touchdown. He also become the second freshman quarterback to ever suit up in a varsity game for La Salle.
His top target, 6-foot-5 Derek Kief was also impressive, catching nine passes for 116 yards. Kief, who is a junior, already has offers from Cincinnati, Illinois and Toledo, according to Rivals.com.