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Colerain head coach Tom Bolden had the daunting task of replacing the Cardinals all-time leading rusher Tyler Williams and fullback Trayion Durham, who racked up three 1,000-yard seasons. Instead of rebuilding, Bolden used a deep talent base to reload and that talent pool was tested with numerous injuries during the season that could have derailed other teams.
Season-ending injuries to some of the team’s primary offensive options just created opportunities for others to step up. Coach Bolden continued to use the philosophy of “next man up” to motivate his team to march on and continue the greatness of the Colerain tradition.
Colerain finished the year with a 10-2 record and won its 12th consecutive Greater Miami Conference regular season championship with a perfect 7-0 league record. The defense led the GMC in points allowed per game (10.4) and defensive rushing yards allowed per game (109.7). The offense led the conference with 36.1 points per game and was second in rushing yardage gained per contest (425.3). The Cardinals made it all the way the Division-I, Regional 4 semi-finals where it fell for the second season in a row to St. Xavier.
Here is a game-by-game recap of Colerain’s 2011 season:
GAME #1 – COLERAIN 17, COCOA 7: The Cardinals started its season in the Crosstown Showdown at home beating the Cocoa (Florida) Tigers 17-7. Both teams had a lot riding on the game as Colerain was looking to extend its home winning streak to 60 games. Cocoa had a 38-game winning streak on the line for a game that was televised nationally on the ESPN network. Colerain’s defense proved to be the deciding factor in the game as it held the Tigers to just 201 total yards of offense, 85 of which came on Cocoa’s only scoring play in the fourth quarter. Dejuan Lang intercepted two Cocoa passes to account for both turnovers forced by the Cardinals defense. On offense, running back Jackson Sorn was the star for Colerain. The converted quarterback carried the ball 14 times for 72 yards and rushed for both of the Cardinals’ touchdowns. Quarterback Alfred “LA” Ramsby ran for 63 yards on 17 carries as Colerain rushed for 207 yards as a team.
GAME #2 – COLERAIN 37, RYLE 0: Colerain suffered the first of many significant injuries on the season during a 37-0 blowout of Northern Kentucky heavyweight Ryle. Junior running back Chris Davis, who scored a 24-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter, suffered a dislocated knee cap and would be lost for the rest of the season. Ryle would also receive bad news with the loss as its star running back Travis Elliott, who was also lost for the season when he tore his ACL attempting to make a tackle on defense. Sorn was the offensive star of the game as he rushed for a season-high 226 yards on just nine carries, scoring on touchdowns of 62 and 59 yards. The Colerain defense was once again stellar giving up just 138 yards of total offense while forcing three turnovers. Senior Andre Jones returned a Ryle interception 35 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Senior linebacker Joe Bolden recovered a fumble and sophomore Ryan Williamson came up with an interception.
GAME #3 – ST. XAVIER 17, COLERAIN 14: Colerain’s 61-game home winning streak that had dated back to 1999 came to an end with a 17-14 loss to the St. Xavier Bombers. Ramsby led the Colerain rushing attack with 107 yards on the ground. Sophomore Trevon Hudson, who moved from wide receiver to running back to replace the injured Davis, scored on a six-yard rushing touchdown to even the score 7-7 in the first quarter. Unfortunately, Hudson was injured on the play and did not return to the game. The Cardinals’ defense came up big in the first half forcing a pair of turnovers. Colerain could not take advantage of a Jones’ interception but Steven Ferneding recovered a fumble forced by Jake Blust deep in St. Xavier territory to set-up a Cardinals touchdown. On fourth down-and-one from the five-yard line, running back Curtis Jester scored to give Colerain a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter. The Cardinal defense did a good job holding Bombers’ running back Conor Hundley to just 57 yards rushing but the St. Xavier passing game came up with 180 yards through the air. Hundley scored his second rushing touchdown in the third quarter to tie the score 14-14. The Bombers only had one possession during the fourth quarter and made it count as Nick Roemer drilled a 21-yard field goal 3:57 left in the game to take a 17-14. Colerain did have one last chance as Ramsby led a drive that eventually stalled with just 47 seconds left in the game. St. Xavier used all three of its timeouts in succession to ice Colerain kicker Kevin Walker as he was about to attempt a game-tying 45-yard field goal. The strategy worked as Walker missed the long kick and Colerain lost the game and snapped its 61-game home winning streak at the hand of the Bombers.
GAME #4 – COLERAIN 56, MASON 20: Colerain started its GMC schedule with a 56-20 victory at home over Mason. The Cardinals came out a bit sluggish but cranked up the intensity to blowout the Comets in the second half. With Colerain holding on to a 14-12 lead, Ramsby threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Ben Scherrer with just 52 seconds left before halftime. Leading 21-12, Colerain’s Jones returned the opening kickoff of the second half 93 yards to the house giving the Cardinals a 28-12 lead. Mason scored a third quarter touchdown and was successful on the two-point conversion to narrow the gap to 28-20. Colerain took that as a wake-up call and scored 28 unanswered points, doubling its point output for the game, blowing out Mason 56-20. The victory was once again costly for Colerain as Ramsby, who had his best passing game of the season, going five-for-eight passing for 58 yards and two throwing touchdowns, was lost for the season due to a knee injury. However, senior Dustin Smith came into the game in relief and scored on a 76-yard rushing touchdown and threw a 56-yard scoring pass to Scherrer.
GAME #5 – COLERAIN 21, MIDDLETOWN 13: With Ramsby lost for the rest of the year to injury, Colerain head coach Tom Bolden responded with the “next man in” strategy and turned Smith. The senior, making his first varsity start, carried the ball 21 times for 92 yards while running the triple-option offense on virtually every play from scrimmage as the Cardinals escaped Middletown with a 21-13 road victory. Colerain jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead when David Moore returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals took its first offensive possession and marched down the field scoring on a two-yard run by Sorn. Trailing 14-0, Middletown regained its composure with an 83-yard pass play from quarterback Jalin Marshall to wide receiver Donte Holdbrook, cutting the Colerain lead to 14-7. Marshall and Holdbrook hooked up for another touchdown in the second quarter but head coach Troy Everhart decided to go for the lead with a two-point conversion. The Middies pass fell incomplete and Colerain held on to a 14-13 lead going into the locker room at halftime. The game was playing in a driving rainstorm and the second half became a defensive struggle. Colerain finally got on the scoreboard again in the fourth quarter as Sorn, who led the Cardinals in rushing with 98 yards on 19 carries, scored from two yards out to extend the lead to 21-13. Middletown had one last chance but Jones intercepted Marshall’s pass in the final minute of the game to secure the Cardinals second GMC victory of the season.
GAME #6 – COLERAIN 56, FAIRFIELD 0: Colerain improved its GMC record to 3-0 with a 56-0 demolition of Fairfield. The Cardinals’ running game was unstoppable, rushing for 417 yards and six touchdowns. Sorn led the ground attack with 142 yards and one score on 15 carries. Nick Johnson chipped in with 60 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. Smith and Tevin Ware also recorded rushing touchdowns. Smith even had a touchdown through the air when his only pass completion of the game was an 11-yard scoring strike to Garrett Wright. The Colerain defense gave up just 73 yards of total offense against Fairfield and forced two turnovers that resulted in touchdowns. Reginald Gaither returned an interception 23 yards for a score and Eric Works recovered a fumble in Fairfield’s end zone for a touchdown.
GAME #7 – COLERAIN 24, LAKOTA WEST 19: The FOX19 Prep Rally was at Firebird Stadium in West Chester as Lakota West played host to Colerain. West had a chance to record a come-from-behind victory but came up just short as the Colerain defense came up with a red-zone turnover in the final seconds of the game. Colerain jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead and appeared to be cruising to another GMC victory, holding West to just 55 yards of total offense in the first half. The Firebirds received the opening kickoff of the second half and finished up a 90-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Derwin Jamison. The extra point attempt failed but West had cut the deficit to 24-6. Sorn, who ran for 101 yards on 26 carries, scored his second rushing touchdown to push the advantage to 24-6 with 6:31 left in the game. West abandoned its running game and trusted the hot hand of sophomore quarterback Malik Groove who threw for 264 yards in the second half. Grove hooked up with Jamison on a five-yard touchdown pass but the two-point conversion failed and the score was 24-12 in favor of Colerain. Lakota West went for the on-sides kick but Colerain was awarded the ball when one of the Firebirds touched the ball before it traveled the required 10 yards. After earning one first down, Colerain decided to go for a 50-yard field that came up short and Lakota West still had a chance to make the comeback. With 1:00 left in the game, Grove threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kayaune Ross the Colerain lead was cut to 24-19. West tried another on-sides kick and this time recovered it and had one last chance to pull off the miracle comeback. Grove completed a 47-yard pass to Ross that set-up first-and-goal at the two-yard line. West decided to hand off to star running back Marcus Davis who was stripped of the ball in the pile and Colerain’s Steven Ferneding ended up with the fumble recovery with just 10.8 second left in the game. Colerain escaped with a hard fought 24-19 win and improved its record to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the GMC.
GAME #8 – COLERAIN 28, LAKOTA EAST 7: After the close call the week before at Lakota West, Colerain returned home to host Lakota East. The Cardinals suffered a bit of a hangover effect from the week before as East scored first with a two-yard touchdown run by Mikel Horton. Just before halftime, Colerain tied the score 7-7 when Smith scored on a one-yard run. Sorn, who piled up 109 yards rushing, scored a third-quarter touchdown to give Colerain a 14-7 lead. The Cardinals, who gained 304 yards on the ground, were led in rushing by Smith, who accounted for 113 yard on just 12 carries. Bolden got in on the offense side of the ball by scoring both times he touched the ball. Bolden scored on a one-yard run and a five-yard reception as Colerain racked up a 28-7 win over Lakota East on Senior Night. Jones snagged his fifth interception of the season.
GAME #9 – COLERAIN 28, HAMILTON 0: Colerain traveled to Hamilton and shutout the Big Blue with a 28-0 victory. Hamilton was able to force three Colerain turnovers but its offense could not take advantage of the Colerain mistakes. The Cardinals defense held Hamilton to just 93 total yards of offense and forced a pair of interceptions, one each by Jones and Gaither. Smith was the offense star for Colerain as he led the team in rushing with 91 yards and threw two touchdown passes. Running back Detaun Smith ran for a pair of scores as Colerain improved to 6-0 in GMC play and 8-1 overall.
GAME #10 – COLERAIN 40, OAK HILLS 14: Colerain won the Greater Miami Conference with a 40-14 win over its neighborhood rival Oak Hills. The Cardinals used a dominating running attack that the Highlanders had no answer for as Colerain rushed for 450 yards and racked up 525 yards of total offense. Three Colerain players, quarterback Dustin Smith (165), Jester (121) and Detaun Smith (105) each rushed for over 100 yards. Jester and Detaun Smith each scored two rushing touchdowns. Dustin Smith ran for one touchdown and threw for another with an 18-yard strike to Hudson. The Colerain defense also came up big as Jones recorded his seventh interception of the season and Gaither came up with his third pick of the year. The Cardinals improved to 9-1 on the regular season and a 7-0 mark in the GMC.
GAME #11 – COLERAIN 60, WALNUT HILLS 6: Colerain earned the #2 seed in the Division-I, Region 4 playoffs and faced off against the #7 seed Walnut Hills. The Eagles, who have the smallest enrollment of any Division-I school in the region, was appearing in its first playoff game in the program’s history. The clock struck midnight on the Cinderella squad as Colerain crushed the Eagles 60-6. The Cardinals outgained the Walnut Hills 450-191 in total offense including a 341-61 advantage in rushing yards. The Colerain defense forced six turnovers including a 66-yard interception return for a touchdown by Moore. Bolden also came up with a pick-six as the Cardinals’ defense score more points than the Walnut Hills offense. The win sets up a rematch against #3 seeded St. Xavier who was the only team that had beaten Colerain during the season.
GAME #12 – ST. XAVIER 28, COLERAIN 15: Colerain earned the opportunity for a rematch against St. Xavier in the region semi-final game played at Nippert Stadium. The Bombers eliminated the Cardinals in this same round of the playoffs last season in a 24-23 thriller. St. Xavier jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter to put Colerain on its heels. St. Xavier quarterback Griffin Dolle played a near perfect game going 10-for-11 passing with 114 yards and three touchdowns. Dolle threw a pair of first quarter touchdown passes to Kevin Milligan and Conor Hundley scored on a one-yard plunge in the second quarter. In the closing seconds before halftime, Colerain quarterback Dustin Smith scored on a one-yard run to cut the deficit to 21-6 at the intermission. Walker kicked a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to cut the margin to 21-9. That was as close as the Cardinals would get as each team traded fourth quarter touchdowns and St. Xavier came away with a 28-15 victory. Colerain did outgain the Bombers in total offense 337-314 but was forced to abandon its running game after St. Xavier jumped out to the big early lead. Smith, who was 17-for-41 passing for the entire season coming into the game, finished the game 16-for-31 for 159 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
MILESTONES AND MORE
--Head coach Tom Bolden finishes up his fifth season with a 52-8 overall record. His teams have earned Division playoff berths in four of his five seasons, but he has yet to guide a team to a Regional title.
--Bolden has committed to the University of Michigan and is already on campus in preparation for spring practice. Bolden was named first-team All-Ohio and played in both the U.S. Army and Under Armour All-American games. Bolden, the nephew of head coach Tom Bolden and the son of athletic director Dan Bolden, recorded three sacks on defense, returned an interception for a touchdown, scored three touchdowns on offense and was the team’s punter averaging 39.0 yards per punt.
--Jones earned First-Team All-Ohio honors while leading the GMC with seven interceptions, 201 return yards and one pick-six. Jones was also the team’s top kick returner, averaging 27.6 yards in kickoff returns and 12.2 yards per punt return. Jones has given an oral commitment to play football at the University of Cincinnati.
--Sorn led the team in rushing with 946 yards on 147 carries and 11 touchdowns. The junior was thought to be the team’s starting quarterback but moved to running back when Ramsby transferred in during the summer from Lakota West. Despite suffering from an ankle injury in the later part of the season, Sorn did not miss any games and plans to be a big part of the Colerain attack next season.
--Smith broke into the starting lineup after a season ending injury to Ramsby. The senior was second on the team in rushing with 725 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. Smith also threw for 576 yards and 11 touchdowns and only lost one game as the starting quarterback.
--Jake Blust, senior middle linebacker, converted from his original position of defensive end and became a star pass rusher. Blust led the team and was third in the GMC with 6.5 sacks, giving him 13.5 sacks for his varsity career. Blust forced one fumble and had one interception.
--Colerain placed six players on the 2011 Postseason All-TriStateFootball.com Team including First-Team members Bolden, Blust and Jones along with Second-Team selections in offensive linemen Dylan Wiesman and defensive lineman Trae Clark and Scherrer, a Honorable Mention at tight end.
Colerain was one of six teams that were nominated for TriStateFootball.com’s Cincinnati Team of the Year. The Cardinals will be highlighted during our Cincinnati Year in Review Show at Tap House Grill in Kenwood on Wednesday, January 18…MORE DETAILS
Brady Laber is a 2009 graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He is in his fourth season with TriStateFootball.com and has covered Northern Kentucky high school football since 2006. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.