Heading into last year’s matchup Colerain was on its way to winning another Greater Miami Conference title, while the Lakota West football program was hoping to earn its first conference win of the season.
What a difference a year makes.
This Friday night, the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in The Cincinnati Enquirer coaches’ poll will face off at Colerain High School at 7:30 p.m. in what appears to be a matchup that will decide the GMC title.
And if this year’s game is anything like last year’s, Colerain fans have to be concerned.
Led by its then sophomore quarterback Malik Grove, who began last season as the third stringer, Lakota West scored two touchdowns and recovered two onside kicks in the final three minutes. Eventually, the Firebirds came up two yards short, fumbling the ball on third-and-goal in the closing seconds, falling to Colerain by the score of 24-19.“That may have been a little bit of a turning point because we started to focus on what we had to do,” Lakota West head coach Larry Cox said. “I think too many times you can get wrapped up in who the opponent is, instead of how you are going to play.
“That was sort of the launch pad for our entire offseason.”
It can be easy to put too much focus on the opponent when it is Colerain, which is currently ranked No. 9 nationally in the USA Today Super 25 rankings and has won or shared the GMC title in each of the past 12 seasons.
“Our expectations at Colerain are always the same … we want to win every game,” Colerain head coach Tom Bolden said. “15-0 is our expectation. That is a very lofty goal, but that is what we do.”
Unlike last season, where Colerain entered the game with a 5-1 record and Lakota West with a 1-5 record, both teams are 8-0 overall and 5-0 within the GMC this fall.
Grove, who came off the bench to help lead the comeback by completing 14-of-23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, has been the Firebirds starter ever since – compiling a 10-1 record as the main signal caller.
“He (Grove) is a young man who wants to put the team in the best spot to win,” Cox said. “Malik is not about numbers, other than the win-loss column. That is all he cares about.”
Meanwhile, Colerain’s starting quarterback, senior Alfred Ramsby, who actually was a backup running back at Lakota West as a sophomore, has a similar record at 11-1 as a starter.
“Playing here at Colerain is a whole different environment,” Ramsby said. “The whole town is with you. It is like a love/hate relationship. If you doing good – they love you. If you are doing bad – they still love you, but they are ticked at you a little bit.”
That passion for high school football in Colerain Township stems from a program that consistently wins, especially against Lakota West whom they have defeated 11 times in 12 games and haven’t lost to since 1999.
“I always say, ‘you do have go through Colerain to get to a title,’” Cox said.
“If you are truly a competitor and you truly want to get to that level and aspire to be the best, than these are the games you can’t wait for. These are the games that you think about.”
- Sr. QB Alfred Ramsby – 46-of-90 passes for 1,107 yards, 12 TDs and 2 INTs, 583 rushing yards and 8 TDs on 94 carries
- Sr. FB Jackson Sorn – 543 rushing yards and 4 TDs on 77 carries
- Sr. RB Detuan Smith – 497 rushing yards and 6 TDs on 60 carries
- Sr. RB/WR Chris Davis – 368 receiving yards and 3 TDs on 16 catches, 279 rushing yards and 5 TDs on 57 carries
- Sr. OL Dylan Wiesman – verbally committed to UC
- Jr. DB Ryan Williamson – 5 INTs for 40 yards
Lakota West Firebirds
- Jr. QB Malik Grove – 56-of-120 passes for 747 yards, 8 TDs and 4 INTs, 376 rushing yards and 7 TDs on 74 carries
- Jr. RB Mikel Horton – 898 rushing yards and 12 TDs on 174 carries
- Soph. RB Kole Gentry – 423 rushing yards and 6 TDs on 68 carries
- Sr. OL Kyle Meadows – offers from top Division I programs including Florida State
- Sr. DL Luke Scott – 4 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 INT, leads team with 40 tackles
- Sr. DB Tyler Cross – 6 INTs (school record) for 48 yards, 2 fumble recoveries