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August 16, 2008The Colerain Cardinals have been the measuring stick to all other teams in the Greater Miami Conference (GMC) over the last several years. They have either won outright or a share of the conference championship every year since 2003. The rest of the teams in the GMC haven't provided much of a challenge lately to the point that they had to go outside of the conference in order to find a team to challenge them. To say they have put together a long run of dominance would almost be an understatement. However, this reign could be put to the test this year as the 2008 edition of the Cardinals face a tall task for many reasons which will be presented later in this article.
Colerain won the Division I State Championship in 2004 and have been a serious threat to win the title every year since then. Since their undefeated season in 2004, the Cardinals have only lost a total of four games in three seasons. The bane of their existence over the last few years has actually been a team outside their conference, the St. Xavier Bombers. In 2005 and 2007 it was the Bombers that ended the Cardinals run in the playoffs. In 2006 they managed to get past St. X, only to lose to Hillard Davidson 10-6 in the state title game.
The Cardinals began their run of great season under coach Kerry Coombs. He coached them to their 2004 state title. A couple years later he was presented with the opportunity to move into the college game as a defensive coach with the University of Cincinnati. Coombs took the position and in stepped his successor, Tom Bolden. All Bolden did was lead Colerain to a 12-1 record, ultimately losing to St. X in the regional finals in the playoffs. Fortunately for Bolden the cupboard wasn't left bare from when Coombs moved on.
In 2007 Colerain averaged 37.3 points per game. To put that in perspective, the defense only allowed 9.2 points per game. That's a differential of +28.1 points per game. They finished the season ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 33 nationally. These great numbers could all change this season as the Cardinals only have four returning starters from last season, one on offense and three on defense. Because of that, according to MaxPreps.com, the Cardinals are going into the 2008 season ranked No. 25 in the state and No. 386 nationally. That is a huge step down from the way they finished last season. But the reasoning behind the rankings makes sense.
Unlike in the seasons before, the Cardinals are coming into this season in somewhat of a rebuilding phase. While they may end up just reloading, its going to be difficult with their start RB Dominique Sherrer having graduated. Sherrer takes his 1313 rushing yards and 24 TDs with him and leaves a big hole to be filled at the RB position for the season. In addition to Sherrer not being there, Colerain will be without their second leading rusher in Quentin Sims as well as their starting QB, Doug Reynolds. One player to watch for in 2008 will be Quentin's brother, Damon Sims, who will play on both sides of the ball as wideout, tight end and defensive end. On the defensive side, junior LB Tyon Dixon is on the rise and NT Adam Moser and LB Colin Lozier will be standouts as well. As in years past the the defense will be fast, but unlike in years past they will come into the season without much experience.
The lack of experience does not bode well for the upcoming season because of the schedule they are facing this year. The Cardinals will be tested right out of the gate when they take on the defending state champions in St. X and then in their third game they Highlands, who are one of, if not the top team in Kentucky. The defense will get tested more this season they have have in recent years, especially when they take on two of the potential teams that could take the GMC title from them this year. Sycamore and Princeton will pose very big threats to Colerain's reign thanks to Sycamore's nationally acclaimed RB Bud Golden and Princeton's powerful one-two punch of QB Spencer Ware and WR Jeff Duckworth.
The Colerain Cardinals reign as the top dogs in the GMC has been alive and well over the last several years. That reign could come to an end in the 2008 season depending on how well the team meshes together in Bolden's second season as head coach. Not only will he have to work with a very unexperienced team, but he will also have to deal with a very tough schedule both inside and outside the conference. Should the Cardinals can win the GMC again this season and make a run at the state title as well, this season could very well be considered the most impressive they've put together during their reign.