Colerain football has a special meaning for coach Tom Bolden and his son, Kyle

Posted at 2:36 PM, Sep 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-08 14:36:30-04

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- If Kyle Bolden ever needs an extra gear late in the game, he just listens to a voice inside him.

The Colerain senior linebacker may be fatigued. The crowd may be loud. He may hear it from the coaches on the sideline, too.

But, sometimes genes project louder especially if your father is Colerain head coach Tom Bolden. The gift of motivational speech can have that impact.

“It’s my dad’s voice yelling at me saying, ‘you got to make a play and it’s now or never,’” Kyle said.

Colerain linebacker Kyle Bolden with his father, Colerain coach Tom Bolden, in a photo from 2015.

When Colerain (2-0) plays host to La Salle (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Cardinal Stadium, there will be plenty of voices heard on that field, in both seating sections and in the press box. The hype is as thick as the humidity this week.

Colerain is ranked No. 7 nationally by the USA Today and MaxPreps computer rankings. La Salle is No. 25 by USA Today. Colerain holds an 11-10 all-time series edge.

Colerain’s first home game of the season will be undoubtedly special to those involved. The Cardinals haven’t lost at home to an area opponent since 2011.

Yes, it’s only Week 3 and still the non-conference portion of the regular-season schedule. Colerain is Division I and La Salle Division II, so the teams won’t meet in the postseason.

But the significance of this final game of a home-and-home agreement isn’t lost on any of the players from the teams -- many of whom know each other as less than four miles separates the schools.

“The first home game against La Salle?” Kyle Bolden said. “That’s huge. It’s exciting. It gives you the butterflies.”

Father and son will be ready. The team will watch film at 7 a.m. Friday. Tom will be in the auditorium with the offense. Kyle will be with the defense a floor above.

Memories for a lifetime

Colerain rallied to defeat Warren Central in the last minute of the season opener at Nippert Stadium. Last week, the Cardinals defeated St. Xavier in overtime.

“It’s been pretty wild,” Tom Bolden said. “Fun is one way to call it.”

But there is something else. Tom and Kyle are wrapped up in the season with watching film, participating in practice and getting in the right mindset for Friday night.

It’s the nature of the beast. Teams play Friday night and coaches fret about the next opponent sometimes minutes afterward.

Tom Bolden, who has a 98-16 career record, may stay up until 4 a.m. Saturday watching film in his office before attending his youngest son Mitch’s sixth-grade game later that morning.

“We pretty much eat, breathe and sleep Colerain football,” Tom's wife, Lisa Bolden, said.

Tom and Lisa have four sons -- Jake, Kyle, Luke and Mitch, who plays outside linebacker and quarterback in middle school. Luke is a sophomore linebacker on the varsity. Jake got married in mid-August

The Bolden Boys: LB Dan, LB Kyle, LB Luke. (Mike Noyes/

“Football season is awesome,” said Lisa, who works in the financial services industry. And it can be exhausting. The busy weekends. The demands on a head coach's time with recruiting and media requests.

As much as Kyle shines on defense, Tom doesn’t often see much of Kyle or Luke during the game.

Tom, a Colerain standout quarterback in the 1980s, calls the offense for the Cardinals.

One of his favorite moments of Friday night occurs long after the game when he goes back to his office and watches the film on the new futon Lisa purchased for him.

Tom has found the first two weeks to be very rewarding, given the fact that Kyle is a senior.

“I have to remind myself to step back and take some time and reflect upon it,” Tom said. “You have to enjoy it.”

Kyle, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is a leader on a very talented defensive squad. He has 16 total tackles the first two weeks for the Cardinals, ranked No. 1 in the rankings.

Growing up with Colerain football

Like any parent, Lisa Bolden keeps family photos handy. Even when Kyle and his brothers played with action figures in the stands when they were younger, Colerain football was at the epicenter of the family.

Tom, a 10th-year head coach, realizes how much Lisa sacrificed when he was an assistant under Kerry Coombs. Tom is thankful for what Lisa did while he pursued his passion for coaching. Tom and Lisa will be married 20 years next month.

Time has moved rapidly.

There are photos of Tom with his sons, including one with Kyle in his No. 30 Little Cards uniform. An earlier photo shows Tom at a softball field holding Kyle as an infant in 1999.

“It all happened in a blink of an eye,” Lisa said. “That Kyle is a senior, it’s crazy really.”

Dan Bolden, Tom's brother, knows what it’s like. His son, former All-American linebacker Joe Bolden, is now an assistant at Michigan. Dan also has a son on the Cardinals, junior linebacker Dan Bolden.

The elder Dan, a former Colerain athletic director, helps with clock management and game-day operations for the varsity squad. He also coaches the eighth-grade team. He knows the pressure and demands his younger brother often encounters.

Dan also realizes the greater expectation for his 17-year-old nephew Kyle. When you have the Bolden name on the Colerain roster, it resonates. But it's also a responsibility.

Kyle sounds like Tom. Kyle is keen on details about his clothes, hairstyle and has similar mannerisms to his father.

“Every game, I look at Kyle and I shake my head and say, ‘that’s my brother,’” Dan said, referring to the similarities between Tom and Kyle.

Kyle likes knowing Tom is paying attention to the memories, but he isn’t dwelling on the fact it’s his last season on Cheviot Road.

Both will visit Indiana University this weekend on Kyle’s official campus visit. Father and son hope the season doesn’t end until early December in Columbus.

Regardless of whichever city the season ends, Kyle knows his family will be following Colerain football through any circumstance.

“It’s a part of who we are,” Kyle said. “Ever since I can remember it’s been football. My mom, dad and my brothers love football. It’s who we are. It’s what we’re here to do right now.”

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