Battle for Lakota Recap


Nick Johnson

It was a dark, misty Friday night at Firebird Stadium that set the stage for one of the most anticipated games of Lakota West’s season: Our Firebirds vs. the 7-2 Lakota East Thunderhawks. This game was important to not just the Firebirds, who were looking to secure sole ownership of their second straight GMC title, but the game was important to all of Lakota. I spoke with superintendent Matthew Miller on the sideline before the game. He described how big this game was to him, not only because it was a showcase on the field, but it also exemplified how the bands and students could all come together to create such a fun, and impressive night.

Playing such a big game against a division and district rival, the nervous energy and excitement on both sidelines was insane. Tom Bolden, head coach for the Firebirds, told us that their locker room definitely felt they had the upper hand, and realized the large potential they have this season. There was no nervousness in Coach Bolden’s voice, it was all excitement to play this huge game. However, the East sideline seemed to carry a much heavier sense of angst, although HC Rick Haynes said they felt “pretty confident” in their ability to make this matchup a close, competitive game.

Then came the long-awaited kickoff. Both student sections were fired up and ready to go, with an incredible turnout from both sides. The stands were packed. The first quarter of the game was quite forgettable as the Firebirds kicked a field goal on the opening drive, which would end up being the only points scored that quarter. The Firebirds defense looked incredibly dominant, but offensive field position is what really prevented this team from getting up and running. The second quarter was also on the tame side, but Lakota West did put 7 points up on the board after a 15-yard touchdown pass from QB Mitch Bolden to Trent Lloyd, playing WR at the time. I caught up with a pretty frustrated Coach Bolden before the half, who talked about how he was happy the defense continued to play “Lights out,” but the field position problem needed to change. He also had some pretty colorful language to use while talking about the penalties that had been going against West all night.

The moment the second half kicked off, you could feel the instant momentum shift in Lakota West’s favor. In the third quarter, the Firebirds outscored the Thunderhawks 14-7, which created a 24-7 lead heading into the final 12 minutes of play. However, there was no slowing down for West. They put up 10 more points in the fourth quarter, after shutting out East and holding them to a seven-point performance in what was arguably their biggest test of the season. After the game, it was really fun to watch these players celebrate the GMC title that they worked so hard to earn all season long. I only had one question for Coach Bolden postgame, “What did you say in that locker room at half that caused this team to click.” His answer could not have sounded more poetic. He said they made the typical emotional and schematic adjustments, but on the way out he told the team that this game, “it’s 24 minutes for the rest of your life,” which just goes to show what this game meant to this team.

Looking ahead, West (3) will take on West Claremont (14) in the first round of the OHSAA tournament this Friday at home. The last time the Wolves visited Firebird Stadium, the result wasn’t exactly pretty for them, the Firebirds dominated 45-7, but especially now, West can’t afford to play down to their competition and get too cocky. All in all, it should be very fun to watch how this West team performs in the postseason after an incredible year.