Colerain against St. Xavier. A heated rivalry between two juggernauts on opposite sides of
the track, last Friday the latest edition boiled over with proclivities of
religion and sex, public vs. private and blue collar vs. white collar
banter. The atmosphere was volcanic as 10,000
plus fans crammed The Cage for this highly-anticipated train wreck.
Video by Alex Sator
St. Xavier ends Colerain’s 61-game home win streak; Off-field issues arise
By Tim Langevin
Colerain against St. Xavier. It doesn’t get any worse. And because of that, it doesn’t get any better.
Considered a heated rivalry between two juggernauts on opposite sides of the track, this past Friday night, it boiled over with proclivities of religion and sex, public vs. private and blue collar vs. white collar banter. The atmosphere was volcanic both in sight and sound as 10,000 plus fans crammed The Cage for this highly-anticipated train wreck.
Despite all the off-field stuff both student-bodies exhibited, the St. Xavier players decked in all-white uniforms and the Colerain players dressed in all-black for the first time (coincidence or symbolism); were amped out of their gords. Both teams wasted no time exchanging opening possession blows.
But in the end, The Bombers snapped Colerain’s 61-game home win streak with a come-from-behind 17-14 win in a game with more sex appeal than a Hooter’s waitress.
LaSalle was the last team to visit Cardinal Stadium and beat Colerain 12 years ago. The 2-1 Cardinals host Mason in Week 4. Next on 3-0 St. Xavier’s gauntlet schedule is Trinity (Louisville, KY), a team which pasted Elder the same night 56-7 at The Pit, racking up 586 yards of total offense. It was Elder’s worse loss since 1960.
St. Xavier takes the series lead over Colerain 8-7, winning three straight, including six of the past eight contests.
No doubt, this game was labeled an instant classic by both coaches and a re-match could loom down the rode.
Colerain head coach Tom Bolden said, “This was a great football game. An instant classic. Well-played. Both sides kids made plays. They just made one or two more great plays than us. That’s what football comes down to. Hopefully, we get back together week 13.”
St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht agreed, “Can’t ask for anything more. Colerain is a class act. They play hard. Play fast. We were fortunate to come out on top. This game could’ve gone either way. Hopefully, down the road, we’ll play each other again.”
The Bombers marched 80 yards in 10 plays on the game-opening drive for a 7-0 lead. QB Griffin Dolle, behind an offensive line that averages 6-3, 270 pounds, completed 5-of-5 passes for 62 yards. RB Conor Hundley capped the drive by blasting in from two yards out.
The “White-Outs” – the St. X student section – chanted, “We have Jesus.”
Colerain responded with an 83-yard drive in eight plays to knot it 7-7 with 3:23 left in the first quarter. QB Alfred Ramsby busted loose on a 70-yard run the first play. Seven running plays later, RB Trevon Hudson leaped into the endzone from six yards away. Game On.
The “Black-Outs” – Colerain’s student section – chanted, “We have girls.”
St. Xavier marched into Colerain territory after the ensuing kick-off, but DB Andre Jones collected his second interception of the season to halt the drive.
The Cards were forced to punt and Joe Bolden pooched it to the St. Xavier 5-yardline. Four plays later, Conor Hundley fumbled on the 14-yardline and Jake Blust recovered it.
FB Jackson Sorn, coming off a 226-yard rushing performance last week, gashed the Bomber defense for seven yards. Three plays later, Curtis Jester scored on a five-yard TD scamper. Colerain led 14-7 with 7:07 left until half.
St. Xavier covered 34 yards on its next possession, but back-to-back QB sacks by Steve Ferneding and Joe Bolden forced the Bombers to punt on fourth and 17. Colerain ran six plays before time expired.
Both defenses rose to the occasion in the first half. Colerain held Hundley in check with 35 yards on 10 carries and St. Xavier keyed on Sorn, who had 20 yards on five carries. Both players entered the contest with lofty credentials. Hundley had 225 yards and five TDs. Sorn totaled 298 yards and four TDs. That left the burden of proof on the quarterbacks. Both responded. Ramsby rushed for 81 yards on eight carries and Dolle passed for 95 yards, completing 8-of-12 passes.
Specht said, “I challenged the kids at halftime. ‘What did you expect? What do you think is going to happen in a Colerain-St. X game? We are down a touchdown. So what…’ We played harder in the second half. I thought we were too soft defensively.”
The St. Xavier players took Specht’s challenge to heart, shutting out the Cardinals 10-0 in the second half. But it wasn’t easy. It never is when these state powers collide.
Both teams exchanged four and out possessions. Then St. Xavier gained momentum with a seven-play, 48-yard drive to tie the game 14-14 with 2:30 left in the third quarter. Dolle completed 3-of-3 passes for 44 yards. He hit Trey Kilgore on a four-yard screen and connected with Kevin Milligan twice for gains of 12 and 28 yards. Hundley punched it in the endzone on a four-yard run for his second score of the evening.
Hundley said, “They keyed on me. That opened things up for other people. It opened things up outside and our passing game. We settled down in the second half. We got our timing down. We believe in each other and we did it. It’s a team game.”
Just think, five years ago this kid was a nationally ranked gymnast, but a serious shoulder injury changed all that and now Hundley has over 3,000 career rushing yards on a nationally ranked football team. What’s that saying, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Hundley has received several offers from MAC colleges, but hopes to get better offers from bigger schools. He said, “Right now I just want to focus on the season and win a state title. Whatever happens after this season, happens.”
Hundley is a punishing back at 5-11 and 205 pounds with a 4.5 40-dash time.
Perhaps, St. Xavier can win a national title and Hundley will receive a big-time offer.
The Bombers tacked on a 21-yard field goal by Nick Roemer to take a 17-14 lead with 3:57 left in the game.
In desperation mode on the game’s final drive, Colerain marched 51 yards to the St. Xavier 28-yard-line. Ramsby rushed for 15 yards and passed for 36 yards, including a 27-yard clutch reception to Jester on third down and 11 yards to go.
With 46.7 ticks on the clock, Colerain lined up for a 45-yard field goal attempt with their backs to the wall and their home win streak on the line…Timeout St. Xavier.
Colerain lined up again for the tying field goal with their backs to the wall…Timeout St. Xavier.
Colerain lined up once again for the tying field goal with their backs to the wall…Guess what?…St.Xavier used their final time out. Now that’s called freezing the kicker.
With the entire stadium still standing in anticipation, Colerain lined up for the tying field goal…The snap…The hold…The kick…NO GOOD.
Dead silence on the home side. The visitors side erupted as the “White-Outs” chanted, “We have Jesus.”
Outraged, Coach Bolden said, “They can come and chant anything they want, but I’m not fond of what they had to say. When they got to start chanting ‘We’ve got Jesus’, I have a problem with that. They embarrased themselves tonight. This was a great game. What does any of that have to do with this game. That really upsets me.”
This game was a tale of two offenses held below their season averages by dominant defenses. St. Xavier averaged 400 yards and 37 points a game, while Colerain averaged 350 yards and 27 points a game. This night, the Bombers totaled 255 yards and the Cardinals earned 180 yards.
Most of St. Xavier’s yardage was via the air with 180 yards and most of Colerain’s yardage was on the ground with 144 total.
Ramsby rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries and completed 4-of-10 passes for 36 yards. Dolle completed 15-of-21 passes for 180 yards with one interception and added 16 yards on the ground.
Specht said, “At halftime we made some adjustments and got used to the speed of their offense. Offensively, we were able to stretch the field horizontally, able to get to the edges because they were packing it inside more. Our under screens helped.”
The defensive star of the game was senior LB Nate Gerbus (Miami, OH commit), who recorded two sacks and seven tackles. On the season, Gerbus has 18 tackles, six sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception.
Gerbus said, “We adjusted our speed in the second half and stopped playing individually. We played as a team. That’s what it takes to beat this Colerain team. They are a talented football team. When we play as a team and don’t make many mistakes, that’s how you beat a team like Colerain.”
St. Xavier, arguably, has one of the toughest schedules in the state. They play Trinity this week and then successive games against Moeller, Elder, La Salle, St. Edward, St. Ignatius, and St. Xavier of Louisville, KY. But it doesn’t bother the players or coaches.
Hundley stated, “We like big atmospheres where everything is going crazy in the game.”
Gerbus agreed, “We treat every game as a state championship game. It’s not hard to stay motivated because every game is a battle. We have a big target on our backs and everybody tries to shut us down. We stay focused on each game and hope to win a state title.”
Specht said, “We don’t look at it from a schedule standpoint. We look at it from week to week. It’s about getting better. When you play a schedule like ours, the kids have no choice but to get better.”
For the second straight week, Colerain suffered a key injury. Last week RB Chris Davis injured his knee and is out for the season. This game, RB Trevon Hudson received the same fate.
Coach Bolden responded, “Not sure how serious the injury is, but we had to adjust on the fly. St. Xavier is a team you just can’t do that against and expect to win.”
And so, even though this titantic clash ended four days ago, the banter still continues. Just go to the Cincinnati.com website and read the 200 plus comments.
Cincinnati sports columnist Paul Daugherty explains it best, “Rivalries are fueled by leagues and class wars. They’ve survived a statewide debate over public vs. private…It’s oversimplifying to say Colerain is defined by blue collars and St. X by white. That doesn’t mean it’s not accurate. It’s likely that sons of lawyers will line up against sons of carpenters. That’s part of the immense appeal.”