Remembering Colerain state champion team 10 years later
July 8, 2014Colerain High School/WeAreColerain.com
This article was written by Mike Dyer of the Cincinnati Enquirer and was featured in the July 2nd issue.
Andre Revels can almost still smell the aroma of popcorn on a Friday night.
Dominick Goodman remembers the thunderstorm and lightning at Nippert Stadium which delayed the heavily-anticipated season opener against Elder.
Brian Lainhart never forgot how his teammate worked on a broken down bus on the way to the state championship game in Canton.
And former Colerain football coach Kerry Coombs? One of his biggest regrets to this day is not staying the night in Stark County after the Cardinals won the 2004 state title.
Coombs, his wife Holly and 12 other players rode a bus back to Cincinnati. And when the coach arrived at his Colerain Township home he and Holly sat at their kitchen table and read the newspaper articles about the game at 4 a.m. Later that day, the community celebrated the state title at the high school.
One month from today, official full football practice begins across the state. There is already multiple storylines going into the season, which officially is scheduled to start Aug. 28 in the area.
And in Colerain Township, the community will also have an opportunity to look back this fall at the 10th anniversary of the school's only state football title – the 2004 Division I champion Cardinals (15-0).
"The best team ever - no doubt," said Lainhart, a junior defensive back in 2004. "..."I don't see another team matching up with us."
The Colerain athletic department is working to finalize a 10-year reunion with the team including Coombs later this season.
Coombs, who is the Ohio State cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator, remembers leading that Colerain 2004 squad like it was yesterday.
"When people started talking about it being 10 years I am thinking you have to be kidding," Coombs said.
The 2004 Cardinals were no joke.
In fact, The Enquirer reported in 2004 that Colerain ranks among the greatest teams in Cincinnati prep history.
Colerain scored 46.3 points per game and allowed just 6.5 a game, according to The Enquirer's Tom Groeschen.
Colerain defeated Canton McKinley 50-10 in the Division I state final Dec. 4, 2004 at Fawcett Stadium – the Bulldogs' home venue.
Coombs, 52, lobbied for another site leading up to the Saturday night game, but wasn't successful. Canton McKinley asked if Colerain wanted its home locker room. The Cardinals refused.
Coombs can still recall details of the itinerary that weekend. He remembers arriving at Fawcett at 5 p.m. Saturday and being nervous.
The state final was the first time the team was on a charter bus. The team hadn't traveled overnight before. There were the hotel arrangements and simply being four hours away from home.
"To me it was huge," Coombs remembered. "I kept thinking, 'Don't screw this up.'"
Adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, senior quarterback Dominick Goodman shined at Fawcett Stadium after the Cardinals trailed early by fumbling five times including losing three. Colerain trailed 3-0 early in the game but then the tide turned.
"We just had to realize it was ok for us to win," Coombs said.
Goodman, who later starred at UC, rushed for a division record 259 yards and four touchdowns. The nerves were settled and the Cardinals put on a dominant performance.
"Then we just took off," said Revels, who was a Colerain linebacker. "The offense hit their stride. Goody (Goodman) put on his Superman cap and started making it happen."
Said Coombs: "(Goodman) was more special than I realized before he started playing. "Once he started playing, he was a different dude on that field."
The Cardinals' state championship win was the most points scored and the largest margin of victory in the big-school title game at the time. (Moeller and Mentor broke the record for most points in the Crusaders' 55-52 win in the 2013 state final).
Colerain, which outscored its five tournament opponents 191-22, set a division state finals record with 463 yards rushing. Senior fullback Mister Simpson rushed for 105 yards and was first-team all-state.
The Cardinals held McKinley 127 total yards.
Colerain had experienced heartbreak in 2003 but after the dead period that winter, Coombs said the Cardinals "never batted an eye" and set their sights forward.
The closest margin of victory was the '04 season-opening 21-3 win over Elder, which snapped a three-year losing streak to the West Side rival. The Cardinals defeated the visiting Panthers in the first round of the playoffs later that fall.
"We were loaded everywhere," said the 27-year-old Goodman, who plays wide receiver for the Cleveland Gladiators in the Arena Football League. "It was pretty much like an all-star team."
Colerain senior offensive lineman Bryan Shelton was first-team all-state and helped the Cardinals' rushing attack.
Senior defensive lineman Terrill Byrd, who later starred at UC, was The Enquirer Division I player of the year after he had 21 sacks and 47 tackles. His twin brother, Tirrdell Byrd, had 45 tackles and 14 sacks and was an Enquirer all-area selection.
Revels was first-team all-state and had 85 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions. Senior defensive back Brayden Coombs, the son of Kerry, was second-team all-state and had four interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Brayden played at Miami University.
Several other players stood out including offensive lineman Connor Smith (U.S. Army All-American/Ohio State), running back Terrence Sherrer (Minnesota), linebacker Cobrani Mixon (Kent State), defensive back Eugene Clifford (US. Army All-American/Ohio State) and others.
Lainhart said Coombs and longtime assistant Rick Haynes (now head coach at Lakota East) would remind the players to take nothing for granted. Coombs reminded the players of the Jets upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III and said the Cardinals would be a target every week.
"I think more than anything I would remind them of our history," Coombs said. "I don't think people understand how hard it is to win the state championship. I just don't think people get it."
Revels, who works in San Francisco, said playing on the 2004 team seems like yesterday but also seems like it was in fact a decade ago. He stared at three computers while speaking on the phone to The Enquirer from his cubicle at a technology company this week and happily recalled high school days.
Not only did Revels enjoy his playing career at UC, but he feels blessed for the journey he started at Colerain with his "band of brothers."
"It was a special collection of young men and it was a special time," Revels said.