CINCINNATI -- Colerain football coach Tom Bolden takes a great deal of pride in the strength and conditioning aspect of his program.
The commitment to the weight room was clearly evident on Saturday afternoon in a game that kicked off at 1 p.m., was delayed for nearly two hours due to weather, and didn’t end until after 5 p.m.
Colerain senior fullback Monalo Caldwell scored on a 10-yard run with 1:01 left as the Cardinals rallied to defeat Warren Central 31-28 at Nippert Stadium in the 19th Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
“Once we got down there close (to the end zone) we knew we had them pretty tired,” Colerain coach Tom Bolden said. “When they are tired and he’s 217 pounds of muscle, that’s a good combination for us.”
Caldwell showed his mettle when the Cardinals needed it the most. He wasn’t surprised at the play call despite no Colerain timeouts. Caldwell rushed for 1,343 yards last season.
In a game that was billed as one of the nation’s top 10 games this week by MaxPreps, the rematch of the 2015 Showdown matchup lived up to the billing despite a two-hour lightning delay filled with rain that cleared both teams from the field and the fans from their seats.
The humidity returned in the third quarter on the field.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Bolden said. “We train like no other. We start with Christmas Eve lifts and all that kind of stuff. We want to feel like we can play a game in January and February. Nobody cramped. We battled through it.”
Colerain junior linebacker Dan Bolden (Tom’s nephew), who earned game MVP honors, had a game-high 13 tackles. Bolden said the energy level was at a standstill in the locker room initially during the long break but then the coaches got the team going.
“Our defensive coordinator, coach (Shawn) Cutright came in and started talking about juice,” Dan Bolden said. “We were all hopping around and getting all excited. We started out a little bit flat but we got going from there.”
Colerain (1-0) is ranked No. 13 nationally by MaxPreps. The Cardinals defeated Warren Central 27-16 in the 2015 Showdown.
Saturday was a case of who could withstand the other’s punches. Tom Bolden said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Warriors won the Indiana state title this season.
Warren Central (1-1) had good field position in the final minute but senior defensive back Amir Riep (Ohio State commit) broke up a pass on third down with 30 seconds left and senior defensive back Keontae Jones made a nice tackle on fourth-and-4 to secure the win for Colerain, which has won two straight season openers.
“We just knew we had to step up on defense,” Jones said. “We knew we had had to get a stop and we did it.”
Warren Central had 436 yards of total offense including 271 net yards passing. The Warriors led 28-24 with 3:29 left when senior Tristen Tonte scored on a 1-yard run.
Colerain called its final timeout with 1:44 left when Warren Central faced a fourth down. The Warriors punted and Riep returned it 45 yards to put the Cardinals in great field position.
Riep said he just wanted to put his team in a good position for its final scoring opportunity.
“I had a lot of fun,” Riep said. “The first game and all this preparation. To be able to let loose -- it was great.”
Colerain junior quarterback Gunnar Leyendecker found Jones for a 17-yard pass connection toward the left sideline. The Cardinals showed four wide receivers on the final drive and Tom Bolden joked his squad may become a spread offense as opposed to its traditional triple option base formation.
Jones, who finished with eight tackles and an interception, smiled at the thought of helping his team as a wide receiver and said it was fun to emulate his brother, former Colerain standout Deshaunte Jones, who is now an Iowa State wide receiver.
“Keontae was huge today,” Tom Bolden said.
Everything went Colerain’s way early on Saturday afternoon.
Colerain sophomore Deante Smith-Moore completed a 13-play drive with a 35-yard touchdown run on third down to help put the Cardinals ahead 7-0. Smith-Moore initially looked like he would be dropped for a loss but kept his balance and sprinted toward the end zone.
Then, the Cardinals struck quickly on defense after the ensuing kickoff. Colerain sophomore linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. recovered a Warren Central fumble and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. Senior Ryan Murray added his second extra point and the Cardinals led 14-0.
Dan Bolden’s interception put the Cardinals at the doorstep of another score at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter.
But, a 17-yard run was quickly erased with a fumble that was recovered by the Warriors at their own 4.
Warren Central’s Tonte scored on a 3-yard touchdown run at the 1:35 mark to close the gap to 14-7.
Warren Central took advantage of a Colerain fumble and sustained a long drive that was capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass from senior Zach Summeier to junior Dean Tate to help tie the game at 14 at the 4:31 mark of the second quarter.
Murray added a 29-yard field goal with 1:30 left in the second to give the Cardinals a 17-14 lead at halftime.
Warren Central went ahead 21-17 with a touchdown midway through the third quarter.
Colerain took the lead again midway through the fourth when sophomore JJ Davis scored on a 38-yard run. He had seven carries for 70 net yards for the game.
Colerain plays at St. Xavier at 7 p.m. Sept. 2.
Warren Central 7-7-7-7--28
C-Smith-Moore 35 run (Ryan Murray kick)
C-Pace 47 fumble recovery (Ryan Murray kick)
W-Tonte 3 run (Ramirez kick)
W-Tate 6 pass from Summeier (Ramirez kick)
C-FG Ryan Murray 29
W-Summeier 10 run (Ramirez kick)
C-Davis 38 run (Ryan Murray kick)
W-Tonte 1 run (Ramirez kick)
C-Caldwell 10 run (Ryan Murray kick)
Records: C 1-0, W 1-1