By SCOTT COTTOS
KANSAS — Lakota’s Raiders have a chance to make school history this season. And if they do, they may have both a win and a loss to look back on as turning points.
After beating Arcadia 32-12 in their opener, the Raiders got thrashed 48-0 by Gibsonburg.
They rebounded for a 34-0 win over Cardinal Stritch in Week 3. Then, last week brought a 35-14 victory over Montpelier’s Locomotives — a win that may have started Lakota’s engine chugging toward bigger and better things.
One of the Raiders’ goals is to qualify for the OHSAA playoffs. With their move from Division VI to Division VII, they’re in Region 24, which is far from loaded with powerful teams.
Lakota, however, seems to be showing itself as a good team with its 3-1 record.
“Not bad. Not bad,” Raiders coach Shane Jacoby said. “We’ve got a long way to go yet. But we’re getting better each week. And that’s one of our goals — just get better each week. So, we’ve got to improve this week and get ready for (Toledo) Woodward.”
A win in Friday night’s game against the Division III Polar Bears (1-3) at Toledo Waite’s field would certainly boost Lakota’s chances of gaining a playoff bid. The Raiders will go into the game with the No. 3 spot in Region 24. The top eight teams in each region will qualify for the postseason.
“We’d be the first team in Lakota history to do it,” senior fullback/linebacker Andrew Ferree said. “We’ll take one game at a time and try to get there.”
The Gibsonburg game supplied the Raiders with no computer points, but they may have learned a lesson the hard way.
“They’re good,” Jacoby said of the Golden Bears. “They’re fundamental. And, nothing against them, but I was really disappointed in our effort. I tell the kids this: The only thing you can control in life is effort, and we did not come out there with great effort. I don’t know why, being a rival like that. But I’m glad we bounced back and we were able to come back against Cardinal Stritch.”
Ferree said he and his teammates made an attitude adjustment after the Gibsonburg loss.
“We’re more prepared for games since we got beat by Gibsonburg by a blowout,” he said. “It changed our outlook on people.”
Against Montpelier, Lakota turned the tables after absorbing a 32-0 whipping from the Locos last season. Ferree played a big role by taking a pair of interceptions in for touchdowns.
“That was a big one,” Jacoby said of defeating Montpelier. “It was a good test for us because they scored first and we had to come back, it was hot — there were a lot of things that tested us. I knew they were going to smack us. Our kids took it to heart and smacked back and had a pretty nice game.”
Jacoby, the Raiders’ third head coach in as many years, is in his second stint as Lakota’s head coach. The school’s last winning season came at 6-4 in 2007 — the last year of Jacoby’s first term.
Jacoby was most recently an assistant coach at Tiffin Columbian before returning to Lakota last season as an assistant to Eric Brickman. Jacoby has also been a head coach at Arcadia and Port Clinton.
Ferree said there’s been a noticeable difference with Jacoby in charge after the Raiders went 4-6 in each of the last two seasons.
“It’s more intense,” he said.
Lakota has enjoyed success on both sides of the ball. Jacoby said little has changed schematically from last year other than terminology with multiple offensive looks and a four-man front on defense.
“The defense has played great,” Jacoby said. “They scored two touchdowns in the last game. They’re number one in (the Sandusky River League) in total defense. (Assistant coaches) D.J Dyer and Kyle (Jacoby, Shane’s son) do a great job with the defense, and the kids come ready to play.”
Ferree and Andrew Hovis have nabbed two interceptions apiece.
Offensively, the Raiders spread the field with sophomore quarterback Tyler Gabel in command, but they’ve run the ball much more than they’ve passed.
“It’s not by design,” Shane Jacoby said, noting that injuries have pressed some young receivers into duty and there’s also been a propensity for the Raiders to drop passes.
Also, he said, opportunities to run have been there, and his club has taken advantage. Gabel has run for 398 yards on 83 carries with seven touchdowns, while 6-foot-1, 220-pound running back Gabe Boose has gained 293 yards on 57 totes and scored four TDs.
Jacoby believes Lakota’s success has given rise to confidence.
“I would definitely hope so — 3-1, we can be proud of that,” he said. “We certainly can’t rest on it, but by the same token, they should be proud of it.”
Prep Football: Lakota rolling at midway point of season
By SCOTT COTTOS