WEST CHESTER — Just in case the first one wasn’t enough, there will be a second.
The No. 1-seeded Lakota West Firebirds tackled the eighth-seeded Lakota East Thunderhawks in a Division I, Region 4 quarterfinal Friday at Firebird Stadium.
With a 31-14 victory, the Tom Bolden-led Firebirds set up a rematch with the Colerain Cardinals next week. The two teams opened the 2020 season against each other, and Lakota West snapped Colerain’s Greater Miami Conference winning streak that stretched all the way back to October 2008.
“It’ll be interesting,” said Bolden, who was Colerain’s head coach from 2007-2018. “I’ll enjoy this one for a little bit tonight, and tomorrow morning, get to work on (the Cardinals) … It’ll be a special night ’cause obviously spending all those years there and knowing those guys and already playing them Week 1, so (I’m) looking forward to it.”
After a tight-knit first quarter and a half, the Firebirds handily dispatched Lakota East, leaving little to clean up before next week, Bolden said.
“Really, offensively, not much (to fix) — just a couple blocking schemes,” he said. “Defensively, not a ton … We just kind of stayed true to what we did and kept playing fast and got the turnover and all that. So we just said stick to the game plan, keep flying around and the rest will take care of itself.”
The rivals didn’t play each other in the regular season, but both came into the postseason contest with momentum. Lakota West remains undefeated, while the Thunderhawks possessed a four-game win streak.
After both teams punted on their first offensive drives, the Firebirds attempted a punt from near their own end zone to cap their second drive, but they had some trouble with the snap. The ball hit the turf and was recovered for a touchdown by Lakota East, putting it ahead 7-0.
Then, Lakota West locked in.
The Thunderhawks didn’t score again until the middle of the fourth quarter.
Led by Bolden’s son, sophomore quarterback Mitch Bolden, the Firebirds put up four consecutive touchdowns before allowing another point.
Mitch Bolden finished with two passing touchdowns and another on the ground. Junior running back Cameron Goode tacked on the final Lakota West points of the night and solidified a season-high 141 rushing yards.
They combined with a solid defensive effort to win 31-14 and end Lakota East’s season.
“We’ve been getting better each week,” Tom Bolden said. “And then, I think we did some things both through the air and on the ground, and (I’m) really excited about the step forward (the offense) took.”
So the stage is set — Lakota West against No. 5 Colerain.
And after the Week 1 blockbuster, the sequel is expected to be epic.
“It’ll be interesting,” Bolden said. “It’ll be another knock-down, drag-out. They’ve got a great defense. We’ve got a great defense. That’ll be a ballgame. Whoever takes care of the football (will win).”
The Firebirds and the Cardinals will clash at 7 p.m. Friday at Firebird Stadium. The victor will head to the regional final.