What a difference a year makes.
Entering week 10 of the 2009 season, the Colerain Cardinals' playoff chances were still up in the air. Colerain knew it needed a win in the final week of the regular season, and even then, their 8-2 record might fall short of a playoff berth.
It did. Back-to-back losses in the opening weeks against St. Xavier and Elder cost Colerain the playoffs.
Not this season.
Heading into week 10, the Cardinals were undefeated and a lock for the state playoffs. This year, the question wasn't whether they would make the playoffs, but whether the team would be playing at Cardinal Stadium in the first round. With a 48-6 win over the Oak Hills Highlanders, the 2010 edition of the Colerain Cardinals not only guaranteed a home playoff game, but also captured their eleventh consecutive Greater Miami Conference Title.
"It's a great feeling. A lot different than last year. We had a lot of sad kids last year. We have a lot of excited kids this year," Colerain head coach Tom Bolden said. "It's pretty neat not only getting back to the playoffs, but getting to play on this field again next week is something really special."
After a one-year absence, Colerain looked poised for its return to the postseason in its final regular season game. The Cardinals scored five times in the first half constructing a 34-0 halftime lead.
Quarterback Tyler Williams got the scoring underway for Colerain. With just over eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, Williams took the ball 52 yards for a Cardinal score. The touchdown put the 5'7", 155-pound Williams first in the record books at Colerain for all-time scoring.
--Postgame: Tyler Williams, Colerain
--Postgame: Tom Bolden, Colerain
"I want to thank my line. I love all my seniors, so I want to give respect to them for blocking for us, staying humble and playing as a team," said Williams when asked about his accomplishment.
Williams would add another touchdown run from four yards out late in the second quarter to cap off a lucrative first half for the Cardinals. Colerain would finish the half without a single punt and converted all three of its red zone opportunities. The senior finished the game with 65 yards on eight carries along with two touchdowns and a touchdown pass.
The high-powered Colerain offense was aided early by some Oak Hills miscues. The Highlanders committed turnovers on consecutive possessions in the first quarter. An Oak Hills' fumble at their 47 gave Colerain a short field and set up fullback Trayion Durham's first of two touchdown runs. Durham carried the ball 16 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
On Oak Hills' next possession, Colerain's Andre Jones picked off Highlander quarterback Ben Rothwell and took the ball 85 yards to the end zone for another Colerain score.
The Colerain offense went silent until midway through the third quarter when Williams connected with Trevon Hudson on a 52-yard touchdown pass.
William's backup at quarterback, junior Dustin Smith, got in on the scoring act as well finding junior Chris Mimes in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception.
Oak Hills had an opportunity to nix the shutout and get on the board on their first possession of the second half. The Highlanders blocked the Colerain punt at the Colerain 15 yard line, but the Cardinal defense held strong and forced Oak Hills to turn the ball over on downs.
Oak Hills senior Thomas Konkoly broke up the shutout with just over four minutes left to play. With his 1-yard touchdown run, Konkoly set the season touchdown record for Oak Hills.
Unlike last season, the Cardinals aren't quite ready to turn in their pads on Monday. They're ready to take the field and prepare for their first round opponent. But one thing's for certain, they haven't forgot about last season.
"We're playing with a big chip on our shoulder, we're staying humble and we come in playing hard," Williams said.
Written by: Katie Budke, TriStateFootball.com