By Tom Ramstetter, Enquirer contributor
Rick Haynes may have more insight into how to defend against the Colerain option offense than any other head coach the Cardinals face, but the fourth-year coach at Lakota East sees a big problem staring at his defense this week.
Lakota East will host Colerain at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Greater Miami Conference opener for both football teams. The Cards are the top-ranked team in the first Associated Press Division I state poll and the latest Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll. Lakota East is No. 8 in the Division I area poll.
Colerain senior quarterback Kelvin Cook has already made unbelievable runs a habit in his first three games as the Colerain starter under center. Cook has been so good so soon that even Haynes, the one-time Colerain offensive coordinator, wonders how to stop him.
“We don’t have anybody on our team that can simulate that,” Haynes said.
Cook has rushed for 589 yards on 80 carries for an impressive 7.4 yards per carry thus far and has scored six touchdowns on the ground. The senior took social media by storm with a 95-yard touchdown run Sept. 13 at Louisville Trinity in which he evaded nearly every Trinity defender on the field before sprinting down the left sideline.
Haynes has seen it.
“He had a great run against St. X too where it looks like he’s surrounded by about five or six guys and gets away,” Haynes said. “We’ve seen them all. He’s played really well. I’d be interested to ask (Colerain coach) Tom Bolden if he knew he was going to be that good going into the season because he’s pretty special.”
Bolden must have had some idea when he filled graduated starter LA Ramsby’s spot with Cook. Cook made his debut with two touchdown runs and a touchdown pass to go with 169 yards on 20 carries in a 45-27 win over Park Vista, Fla., Aug. 30. He followed that with 154 yards on 30 carries in a 31-19 win over St. Xavier and 266 yards on 30 carries last week at Trinity. He’s scored two rushing touchdowns in each game.
“He’s different than what LA is,” Bolden said. “There’s some things he does really, really well and as you can see, him and DeTuan Smith in the backfield, that’s pretty potent that one-two punch there.When you have Kelvin Cook and DeTuan Smith in the backfield, good things are going to happen.”
Smith also averages more than seven yards per carry and has amassed 360 yards on 49 carries with six touchdowns. As a team, Colerain leads the GMC with 441 yards per game on offense with 396 coming on the ground. The Cardinals have held opponents to 261.7 yards per game through three games.
“The hard thing on both sides of the ball is to simulate how fast they are,” Haynes said. “They’re good up front. The fullback is a really good player. They don’t pitch it much. But if they do, I’m sure they have guys who can go the distance.”
Aside from figuring out a way to slow Cook and the Cardinals offense down, the Thunderhawks have to clean up some issues that arose in last Friday’s 31-21 loss to Clayton Northmont.
“We can’t turn the ball over three times,” Haynes said. “That really hurt us (last) Friday. You can’t turn the ball over against (Colerain). You can’t give them any extra possessions. You’re just asking to get beat. We’ve got to do a better job on third downs getting off the field.”