Saturday, October 23, 1999


Rival keeps West from share of GMC

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Lakota East's Mike Kohler runs the ball as West's Matt Knollman goes for the tackle.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Quarterback Mike Kohler hit Barrett Johnson on a 57-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and Lakota East held on for a 10-3 victory over Lakota West before a crowd of 7,500 at Galbreath Field on Friday night.

        The victory catapulted Lakota East into the Division I playoff picture and pushed the Thunderhawks into a three-way tie for second place in the Greater Miami Conference with West and Lima Senior.

        Fairfield won the GMC outright with its 24-7 victory over Hamilton.

        Losing was costly to Lakota West. The Firebirds not only were denied a share of the GMC title but were put in a precarious position for a playoff berth.

        Lakota West, which was No.5 in Division I in the Enquirer's coaches poll, didn't go down without a fight against No.8 Lakota East.

        After West drew within seven at 10-3 on Joe Spadafora's 28-yard field goal with 7:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, West's defense held.

        The Firebirds drove to the Thunderhawk 13, but East's Erik Jones came up with the big defensive play.

        A 6-foot-4, 205-pound lineman, Jones faked to the inside and went outside, getting to East quarterback Aaron York at the 21. On a fourth-and-goal, York's pass was knocked


        “I used my speed to beat the lineman,” Jones said. “We want to get in the playoffs and I knew someone had to come up with the big play.”

        On East's touchdown play, Kohler threw a short pass to Barrett, who took the ball at midfield, split two defenders and ran untouched for the TD and a 10-0 lead with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter.

        “The coaches told me to forget the juke and go downfield after I catch the ball,” said Johnson, a 5-foot-9, 160-pounder. “The first time I caught the ball in the first half, I tried to juke the defender and he tackled me.”

        In eight previous games, Kohler completed only 34-of-70 passes for 405 yards. Against Lakota West, Kohler was 8-of-15 for 156 yards.

        “They (West) were stopping the run and the option,” Kohler said. “I love to throw the ball, and tonight was my best game. Mike is a great athlete and did a great job getting open.”

        Lakota East coach Greg Bailie acknowledged that Lakota West was winning on the lines, and something had to be done.

        “We don't like to throw the ball, but their defense was stopping the run,” Bailie said.

        Controlling the ball 30:43 of the 48 minutes, the Firebirds rushed for 229 yards on 60 carries and picked up 44 yards passing on 5-of-12 for York.

        Lakota East rushed for only 49 yards on 27 carries, but Kohler's passing was the difference (8-of-15 for 156 yards). Johnson caught seven of the eight passes for 150 yards.

        This was the second meeting between these schools with East now holding a 2-0 lead. The Thunderhawks won 15-8 last year.

        “I think we're now in pretty good shape for the playoffs,” Bailie said. “We play Columbus Watterson next week, and they play a Division I schedule and are a very good team.”

        Lakota West ....... 0  0  0  3—3

        Lakota East ....... 0  3  7  0—10

        LE-Harper 40 field goal

        LE-Johnson 57 pass from Kohler (Harper kick)

        LW-Spadafora 29 field goal

        Records: Lakota West 6-3, 5-2 GMC; Lakota East 6-3, 5-2 GMC.


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