Preview: Lakota East at Mason

The Greater Miami Conference opens play on Friday night and the Blitz 5 Tour is heading to Mason. The Comets look for their first win in 2019 against rival Lakota East.

A loss by Mason would be a major blow to its playoff aspirations. The Comets would need an epic finish to make the playoffs if they were to lose to the Thunderhawks.

Lakota East had a bounceback win last week over Fairmont after falling to Turpin in Week 1. The Thunderhawks hope to sneak out of Atrium Stadium with a road victory and pickup crucial computer points for their postseason push.

Both teams love to run the football so this could be one of the first games to go final. This will also be a low-scoring affair. An unconditional score could very well be the most pivotal play in this battle.

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Atrium Stadium, Dwire Field
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sophomores RB Tavier Lugo-Flowers, RB Charlie Kenrich and QB TJ Kathman have made major contributions to the Lakota East offense. The trio has accounted for 59.1 percent of the Thunderhawks’ offense. Kenrich leads the team with 145 yards rushing. Kathman paces the squad with two rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound OT Evan Yockey clears the way up front. Unlike the offense, the Lakota East defense is a veteran group. They are led by seniors LB Michael Howard, DE Adam Hundemer, DB Josh Jones and DB/RS Corey Dick. Howard has 19 total tackles (13 solo). First-year starter, Jones has 16 total tackles (14 solo).

Through the first two games Mason senior QB Colin Brown has thrown for more yards – 197, than the Comets have run for – 192. Brown’s top target is classmate Alec Dardis, who has nine receptions for 96 yards and the team’s only touchdown. Junior OL Paul Rodriguez and senior OL Tyler Welsh are beasts up front. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Rodriguez has offers from Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kent State, Miami (OH), Rutgers and Toledo. Senior LB Jack Haglage is the centerpiece of the Mason defense. He was an OPSWA Second Team All-Southwest selection in 2018.

TEAM TRENDS: Lakota East looking to make back-to-back trips to the playoffs for the first time in school history. The Thunderhawks have won their last four GMC road games (five if you count the forfeit win over Princeton) including a 20-17 victory over Mason in the first round of the playoffs last November. A very young and inexperienced backfield has yet to turn the ball over.

Mason has struggled to score with just seven points on the season. Interceptions have been devastating and drive-killing. Running the football has been the bread-and-butter for the Comets while making the playoffs in each of the last four years. Mason is averaging just 96.0 yards rushing and 28.5 carries per game in 2019. That’s down over 100 yards and 10 carries per contest from what the past three Mason teams have averaged.

LAKOTA EAST’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Thunderhawks have been” Jeckyll and Hyde” to start the season. The defense gave up 419 yards and five touchdowns to Turpin in the opener. Then held Fairmont to 105 yards a week ago. The Lakota East team that showed up last week needs to be there from here on out. There is a gritty and scrappy side to this squad, that intangible and characteristic is a good thing to have embedded this early in the season. That bodes well for the long-term success of the Thunderhawks.

MASON’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Possessions will be of the premium, so taking care of the football is priority number one. Converting on third and fourth downs must get better. The Comets are just 31.7 percent (6-19) in that phase of the game. Coming up big on special teams and creating some distance between themselves and Lakota East on the scoreboard will relieve some of the pressure this team has weighing on it. The defense knows exactly what to expect from the Lakota East rushing attack. There will be nobody to blame but themselves if they can’t stop the run.

Prediction: LAKOTA EAST 17, MASON 13

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