Lakota West football coach Larry Cox spoke with The Enquirer’s Mike Dyer Wednesday about his team’s offseason, the upcoming 2013 schedule and college recruiting for his standout running back Mikel Horton.
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The Lakota West athletic department recently announced a few coaching changes. Tara Schafer-Kalkhoff, Lakota West’s first and only head coach for girls soccer, announced her retirement, while current fall coaches added spring coaching gigs.
Schafer-Kalkhoff recently completed her 17th season as a head coach in the Lakota district after beginning her career at Lakota High School prior to its split following the 1996 season.
Her career highlights include winning the Ohio Division I state championship in 1999 and amassing 203 career wins with a 70.4 winning percentage. Her career win total is the seventh highest among all current and former girls soccer coaches in Ohio high school history, according westfirebirds.com.
Also retiring is her varsity assistant coach and husband, Mark Kalkhoff, who has also spent the last 17 years as a Lakota coach and 22 years total in high school coaching, including a stint as the head coach at Taylor high school from 1991 to 1995.
The Kalkhoff’s are the parents of an energetic little boy, Connor, who will be four next fall, and say that they expect to continue coaching soccer, just at a somewhat lower level of competition.
Meanwhile, varsity football coach Larry Cox and varsity girls’ tennis coach Bryan Skoog will be taking on more coaching duties at Lakota West.
Cox, who has been the Lakota West football coach since its first season in 1997, will be the head coach of the track and field team, while Skoog, who has coached girls’ tennis at Lakota West for eight years, takes over the boys’ tennis program. Both will take over the programs this spring.
Cox replaces Craig Myers, who has coached track and field since West opened in 1997, and Skoog replaces Dale Hutzelman, who coached the boys’ program for the past three seasons.
In a battle of the top two teams in The Cincinnati Enquirer coaches’ poll, senior quarterback Alfred “L.A.” Ramsby carried Colerain from an early 17-0 deficit to a 57-44 win against Lakota West at Cardinal Stadium on a wet and chilly night in Colerain Township.
“It was a grind,” said Ramsby, who played for Lakota West as a sophomore. “They started way faster than us, but then we just got on track and we couldn’t be stopped from there.”
No matter how hard the Lakota West defense tried, it couldn’t stop “L.A.,” short for Little Alfred (shares first name with his father), who put up huge numbers – rushing for a career high 230 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries and completing 8-of-12 passes for 158 yards and another score.
“When he plays within himself, he is pretty darn good,” Colerain head coach Tom Bolden said of Ramsby. “There are a lot of good players in this league, but I would rank him right up there with them.”
With Ramsby starting under center, Colerain is 12-1, which also happens to be the Cardinals’ all-time record against Lakota West.
More importantly, the win gives Colerain sole possession of first place in the Greater Miami Conference and improves its record to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in conference play.
A win next week at home against Oak Hills will mark the 13th straight season that the Cardinals either won or shared the GMC title.
“We are who are. That’s it. We are just tough,” Bolden said. “It is our community, its our school, its our fans.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of these kids.”
Meanwhile, after starting the season with an 8-0 record for the first time in school history, the Firebirds failed to keep up with Ramsby and the Colerain offense.
“Obviously, he was the difference maker in this game,” Lakota West head coach Larry Cox said of Ramsby, who played under Cox two years ago. “He provides an element – run-pass threat – and does a great job with it.
“Hats off to him.”
After its 17-0 start that quieted a near capacity crowd, a series of big plays swung the momentum in favor of the Cardinals.
The play that sparked the surge was senior Dejuan Lang’s 64-yard kickoff return that set up the first of eight touchdowns for the Cardinals when Ramsby raced for 31 yards for a score in the beginning of second quarter.
After that, Lakota West just couldn’t keep up with the Cardinals, who produced 509 yards of total offense.
LW – Grove 2-yard run (Martin kick)
LW – Parker 22-yard pass from Grove (Martin kick)
LW – Martin 25-yard FG
C – Ramsby 31-yard run (Gehner kick)
C – Davis 21-yard run (Gehner kick)
LW – Martin 27-yard FG
C – Smith-Moore 3-yard run (Gehner kick)
LW – Martin 31-yard FG
C – Hudson 40-yard pass from Ramsby (Gehner kick)
LW – Grove 3-yard run (Martin kick)
C – Smith-Moore 17-yard run (Smith-Moore run)
C – Ramsby 8-yard run (Gehner kick)
C – Ramsby 17-yard run (Gehner kick)
LW – Grove 3-yard run (Martin kick)
C – Brown 77-yard interception return
LW – Jones 31-yard pass from Grove (Martin kick)
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
Lakota West’s Larry Cox won his 100th game as a head high school football coach when the Firebirds handed Middletown a 27-14 loss last Friday night.
Cox has been the Firebirds only head coach, after starting the program in 1997. Overall, his record at Lakota West, after the Middletown win is 87-74.
Prior to coming to Lakota West, Cox had won a total of 13 games in two seasons as the head coach at Bellbrook High School.
“To me it just means that I have been surrounded by good people,” Cox said of the accomplishment.
“If you are lucky enough to get some good kids, which I have been, you get to win a few games. It is less about me and more about a lot of other people.”
This fall, Cox is surrounded by a good group that is currently 8-0 overall and 5-0 within the Greater Miami Conference. The 8-0 start is the best in school history. Previously, the best start occurred in 2004 when the Firebirds started 7-0.
Another record that could be challenged this fall is the school’s record for wins in a season, which was set in 2009 with a 9-2 record.
Lakota West will be at Colerain (8-0 overall, 5-0 in the GMC) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. and will wrap up the regular season by hosting school district rival Lakota East (5-3 overall, 3-2 in the GMC) Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
The game started with a kickoff by Lakota West junior Justin Martin that went through the end zone Friday night. Anderson then picked up a false start penalty and a two-yard run by junior quarterback Kevin Rogers before a 30-minute lightning delay went into effect.
Continuous lightning strikes off in the distance kept resetting the delay. Eventually, the game was postponed to Saturday at 6 p.m.
“I hope they (Lakota West players) come out with that same preparation that they came out with tonight,” Lakota West head coach Larry Cox said. “That was the bad part about this because we thought we had a good week of practice. We thought we were on cue, we thought we were ready to go, but you can’t beat Mother Nature.”
Saturday’s game at Lakota West High School will begin with Anderson with the football, 2nd-and-13 from its own 17-yard line. There will be no admission cost to enter the game.
“We had postpone the game for the safety of our players, our fans and our students,” Lakota West principal Gary Elgin Card said. “Their safety is paramount for us. So, we will come back tomorrow night. We hope every one will come out and watch the Firebirds play hard.”
According to Cox, scouts representing West Virginia and Kentucky were on hand tonight to watch senior offensive tackle Kyle Meadows.
Meadows, who was ranked No. 5 among the top 50 players in Greater Cincinnati to watch in the 2013 class by The Enquirer, has scholarship offers to play college football from Louisville, Ohio, Youngstown State, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Akron, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, West Virginia, Northern Illinois, Florida State, Purdue, Kansas, North Carolina State and Kentucky.
He is currently trying to decide where he will take his official visits.