Lakota West (7-0 overall, 4-0 in the Greater Miami Conference), who is ranked No. 3 in The Cincinnati Enquirer coaches’ poll, will host Middletown (2-5 overall, 1-3 in the GMC) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Firebirds are coming off a 37-10 win against Oak Hills, while Middletown enters the game after losing 41-14 last week to Colerain.
Middletown: After making the postseason and winning at least 10 games in the each of the past three seasons, expectations were high in 2012 for the Middletown Middies. This team, surprisingly, has struggled – especially lately – losing its last three games, which included losses against Lakota East, Oak Hills and Colerain. Despite their struggles, the Middies are a dangerous team that is led by one of the state’s top players in senior quarterback Jalin Marshall, who is committed to continue his football career at Ohio State. Last season, in a 47-7 Middletown victory against Lakota West, Marshall rushed for 226 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries. So far this season, Marshall has rushed for 953 yards and nine touchdowns and has thrown for 559 yards and seven touchdowns.
Lakota West: The Firebirds are off to their best start since 2004, are ranked No. 3 in The Enquirer’s coaches’ poll and are now No. 2 in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s region 4 computer rankings. Unlike Middletown, Lakota West struggled the past two seasons and has been one of the area’s top teams in 2012. Overall, the offense has played well – scoring 30 or more points in all seven games this season. As a team, the Firebirds have outscored their opponents 256-90. Their offense is led by junior quarterback Malik Grove, junior running back Mikel Horton and senior offensive tackle Kyle Meadows.
Bottom line: Lakota West appears to be the favorite, but Middletown has to be considered a dangerous opponent. Just last year, the Middies blew out Lakota West, 47-7. Also making this matchup possibly dangerous for the Firebirds is the thought of the team’s next opponent – Colerain, who is ranked No. 11 nationally by USA Today and is the only other unbeaten team in the GMC this season. By comparing common opponents, Middletown has defeated Fairfield, 41-26, and lost to Oak Hills, 27-26, while Lakota West defeated Fairfield, 32-8, and Oak Hills, 37-10.