Lakota East (3-1 overall, 1-0 in GMC), which is No. 10 in The Cincinnati Enquirer Division I coaches’ poll, will host No. 6 Middletown (2-2 overall, 1-0 in GMC) Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Thunderhawks are coming off a 40-20 win at Oak Hills, while Middletown is fresh off a 41-26 win against Fairfield.
Middletown: Entering the season, considered to be one of the best teams in the region and possibly in the state, Middletown has had a disappointing start losing a heartbreaker to St. Xavier, 43-39, in its opener and suffering an uncharacteristic blowout loss at Winton Woods, 51-13, in Week 3. While the 2-2 record is surprising, the play of senior quarterback Jalin Marshall is not. The Ohio State commit currently leads the Middies with 551 yards on 66 carries and five touchdowns, and has completed 22 of his 48 pass attempts for 311 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception. Marshall and the Middies didn’t play Lakota East in 2011, but they did defeat the Thunderhawks, 49-35, in 2010. In that game, Marshall, as a sophomore, rushed for 308 and three touchdowns on 20 carries and threw for another score. Offensively this fall, sophomore running back Yvonte Glover has 281 yards on 63 carries and two touchdowns and senior running back William Peters has added 229 yards on 41 carries and three touchdowns. Peters is also Middletown’s leading receiver with six receptions for 102 yards and four touchdowns. Furthermore, Peters has returned five kickoffs for 189 yards (37.8 yards per return) and has a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Defensively, senior Skyler Watkins has 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. As a team, Middletown is averaging around 360 yards of total offense and is giving up an average of around 295 yards per game on defense.
Lakota East: Last fall, the Thunderhawks were in a similar position – starting the year with a 3-1 overall record and winning their first conference game. After that point, Lakota East lost five of its last six games and finished the year with a losing record for the sixth straight season. Back to 2012, the Thunderhawks made the top ten in the coaches’ poll for the first time this fall and came in seventh in the Region 4 OHSAA computer rankings this week (top eight qualify for the postseason). Leading the Thunderhawks is senior running back Will Mahone, who has 394 yards and eight touchdowns on 71 carries this season. Also leading the offense is junior quarterback Eric Eichler, who has rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries, and has 203 passing yards and three touchdown passes with only one interception. Emerging in the 40-20 win at Oak Hills last Friday was senior running back Chamada Palmore, who rushed for 128 yards on 13 carries. Junior running back Nate Mays also had a strong game – catching three passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the win. As a team, Lakota East is averaging around 321 yards of total offense and is giving up an average of about 263 yards per game on defense.
Bottom line: Middletown and Lakota East have a common opponent this year in Winton Woods. The Middies lost their matchup 51-13, while Lakota East lost its by the score of 25-20. Judging on that alone and adding the fact that Lakota East is at home, one would think that the Thunderhawks are the favorite in this game. However, things are not always that simple. Middletown has one of the best high school athletes in the nation (Rivals.com ranks Marshall No. 2 in Ohio and No. 53 in the nation in the class of 2013), who as a sophomore rushed for more than 300 yards and scored four touchdowns in a single game against East. That being said, Middletown will likely be considered the favorite in this game. If Lakota East could get the upset it would be a big boost to the program.