Lakota West (1-6 overall, 0-4 in the Greater Miami Conference) will be searching for its first conference win of the season when it hosts Hamilton (3-4 overall, 1-3 in the GMC) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. Last week, the Firebirds almost pulled off an upset against GMC power Colerain.
Hamilton: The Big Blue has an impressive weapon on the offensive and defensive side of the ball in senior Roblow Givens. The running back and safety is currently fifth in the conference in rushing yards with 818. Givens also has 11 rushing touchdowns this season. The speedy back would have even better offensive numbers if he didn’t play both ways. Givens is his most dangerous in the wildcat formation running behind senior left tackle Adam Pankey. The 6-foot-6 315-pound Pankey has scholarship offers to Illinois, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and many others. On defense, Hamilton has an athletic defensive backfield and has eight interceptions this season. Senior Jake Venable is also putting together a nice season with six sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in seven games. As a team, Hamilton is averaging 243 yards of total offense per game and is allowing 321 yards per game on defense.
Lakota West: After starting the season as the third-string quarterback, sophomore Malik Grove got the opportunity to play for the first time on the varsity level and almost led the Firebirds to an upset against Colerain last Friday. Trailing 24-6, Grove threw two touchdown passes in the final three minutes of the game – trimming the lead to 24-19. With less than a minute left in the game, Lakota West recovered the onside kick. After a 47-yard pass play from Grove to senior wide receiver Kayaune Ross, Lakota West found itself on the 2-yard-line. Unfortunately, for Firebird fans, Lakota West turned the ball over and Colerain was able to run out the clock. Nevertheless, Grove turned in a good stat line – completing 14-of-23 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The first-year varsity player, who bowled a perfect game for Lakota West last winter, could play again this week. However, both Grove and fellow sophomore Tyler Jones, who has started every other game this season, are sharing snaps at practice this week. A starter is not expected to be named. Meanwhile, senior running back Marcus Davis has been impressive all season – rushing for 745 yards and two touchdowns on 164 carries. As a team, Lakota West is averaging 258 yards of total offense per game and is allowing 352 yards per game on defense.
Bottom line: This could be the Firebirds best chance to win a conference game this season. Lakota West has two remaining games after this week, and they are both on the road at Sycamore (7-0 overall, 4-0 in the GMC) and at Lakota East (4-3 overall, 2-2 in the GMC). It is difficult to determine the favorite in this game. On one hand, Hamilton has been more consistent and has proven talents in Givens and Pankey. And, on the other hand, the emergence of Grove last week could give the Firebirds a shot in the arm.