Both Lakota West and Lakota East were represented in The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Division preseason poll, which was released this week.
The poll, which is determined by votes from local high school coaches, has the Firebirds ranked No. 6 just ahead of Lakota East at No. 7.
Do you agree with the ranking?
Here is a look at the upcoming schedule for both teams:
Lakota West went into the final game of the 2012 season in position to make the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Firebirds were at home and facing school district rival Lakota East, a team they had beaten seven straight times.
The Firebirds, however, lost 33-20 and after winning their first eight games of the season for the first time in school history, the team missed the postseason.
After the loss, Lakota West head coach Larry Cox said his team deserved to be in the playoffs and called the loss “a bitter pill to swallow.”
This fall, West appears to have another strong team – returning senior quarterback Malik Grove, senior wide receiver Tyler Jones and senior running back Mikel Horton. Grove has offers from Georgetown College, Notre Dame College, with schools like Davidson, Dayton and Indiana State in the mix. The quarterback has a 10-3 record as a starter. Jones, who led the team in receptions, is starting to attract attention from MAC schools and has offers from Ohio, Kent State and Akron. The 6-foot-1, 228-pound Horton is committed to Kentucky after piling up offers from Florida State, Boston College, Louisville, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt and others.
Kentucky also recently offered junior linebacker C.J. Stalker. In addition, 2012 Lakota West graduate Kyle Meadows signed with UK in February.
Along with Meadows, West will have to replace 2012 graduates offensive lineman Ben Pendery (Dayton), cornerback Nick Bengal (Gannon), offensive lineman Drew Garbenis (Robert Morris), defensive back Michael Carter (Heidelberg), offensive lineman Daulton Frasier (Miami), offensive lineman Liam Maloney (Morehead State), defensive lineman Ryan Martin (Capital), linebacker Mike Kelly (Navy) and defensive back Tyler Cross (set school record for INTs last year).
The first game of the season could dictate how West will do this season. In 2011, the Firebirds lost by the score of 27-21 to Winton Woods and finished the season with a 3-7 record. In 2012, West defeated La Salle by the score of 46-34 and finished the year 8-2.
In 2013, West will open against Winton Woods Aug. 31 at Fairfield as part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. West will then host Glen Este before facing Dayton-area power Wayne on the road.
The following week, the Firebirds will start its conference schedule with games at Hamilton, vs. Sycamore, at Mason, vs. Fairfield, at Princeton, vs. Oak Hills and at Lakota East.
Here is a look at the 2013 schedule (2012 record):
Aug. 31 – vs. Winton Woods (8-4) at Fairfield
Sept. 6 – vs. Glen Este (4-6 overall, 3-3 in Eastern Cin. Conf.)
Sept. 13 – at Wayne (7-4 overall, 3-2 in Greater Western Ohio Conf.)
Sept. 20 – at Hamilton (3-7 overall, 1-6 in GMC)
Sept. 27 – vs. Sycamore (9-2 overall, 6-1 in GMC)
Oct. 4 – at Mason (6-4 overall, 4-3 in GMC)
Oct. 11 – vs. Fairfield (2-8 overall, 0-7 in GMC)
Oct. 18 – at Princeton (1-9 overall, 1-6 in GMC)
Oct. 25 – vs. Oak Hills (5-5 overall, 3-4 in GMC)
Nov. 1 – at Lakota East (8-4 overall, 5-2 in GMC)
This past fall, the Firebirds complied a 8-2 overall record and 5-2 mark within the GMC.
(All 2013 Lakota West football games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. with exception to the opener against Winton Woods, which will be played on a Saturday at 7 p.m.)
After losing back-to-back games against Sycamore and Mason in October, Lakota East appeared to have no shot at the postseason. However, the Thunderhawks bounced back with wins against Fairfield and Lakota West in the final weeks of the 2012 season and earned in its first postseason berth in school history.
The West win, which snapped a seven-game losing streak against its rival, and the extra points earned when Northmont, a team Lakota East defeated in Week 1, defeated Wayne in the final week of the season gave the Thunderhawks enough to sneak into the No. 7 seed in the OHSAA Region 4 postseason bracket.
Once in, Lakota East defeated No. 2 seed Springboro in its regional quarterfinal matchup – giving the Thunderhawks their first playoff win before losing to Moeller, the eventual state champs.
On offense, East is set to return many playmakers including senior quarterback Eric Eichler, senior athlete Bobby Brown, senior athlete Nate Mays and senior offensive tackle Jarrett LaRubbio. Brown is being recruited by MAC schools, while LaRubbio is committed to Kentucky.
East, however, won’t have 2012 leading rusher Will Mahone (Notre Dame College), who rushed for 1,065 yards and 15 touchdowns last year, or running back Chamoda Palmore (Georgetown College), who had 548 rushing yards on only 70 carries.
Defensively, the Thunderhawks will need players to emerge as they will be without 2012 leaders safety Rob Harpring, linebacker Keith Brady (Columbia), defensive lineman J.T. Turner and linebacker Jake Chestnut (Notre Dame College) – among others – all lost due to graduation.
Hoping to have another successful season, East will open the season at home against Western Hills Aug. 30. After playing at Lancaster Sept. 6, East will host Northmont and Colerain in back-to-back weeks – Sept. 13 and Sept. 20.
After that, East will play at Princeton Sept. 27, vs. Oak Hills Oct. 4, at Middletown Oct. 11, vs. Hamilton Oct. 18, at Sycamore Oct. 25 and vs. Lakota West Nov. 1.
One of the highlights for East fans will be the home game against Hamilton, which will be televised on a Thursday night on WSTR-TV (Channel 64).
Here is a look at the 2013 schedule (2012 record):
Aug. 30 – vs. Western Hills (5-5 overall, 3-3 in Cin. Metro Athletic Conf.)
Sept. 6 – at Lancaster (3-7 overall, 2-5 in Ohio Capital Conf.)
Sept. 13 – at Northmont (7-3 overall, 4-1 in Greater Western Ohio Conf.)
Sept. 20 – vs. Colerain (12-1 overall, 7-0 in GMC)
Sept. 27 – at Princeton (1-9 overall, 1-6 in GMC)
Oct. 4 – vs. Oak Hills (5-5 overall, 3-4 in GMC)
Oct. 11 – at Middletown (4-6 overall, 3-4 in GMC)
Oct. 17 – vs. Hamilton (3-7 overall, 1-6 in GMC)
Oct. 25 – at Sycamore (9-2 overall, 6-1 in GMC)
Nov. 1 – vs. Lakota West (8-2 overall, 5-2 in GMC)
This past fall, the Thunderhawks complied a 8-4 overall record and 5-2 mark within the GMC.
(All 2013 Lakota East football games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.)