Fairfield High School’s football team would like to make some history, even if history isn’t on its side.
The Indians have reached Showdown Week in the Greater Miami Conference, hosting Colerain on Friday in a game that likely will decide the GMC championship and have a significant impact on the Division I, Region 4 playoff race.
The Cardinals are riding a 64-game conference winning streak. They’ve won 17 consecutive GMC titles. And Fairfield hasn’t beaten them since 1999.
“That’s not a part of our discussion this week,” Indians coach Jason Krause said. “I’m a big believer and I tell our kids all the time that you create opportunities by what you’ve done to get yourself in that position. And we’ve created an opportunity to be undefeated in our league and play another undefeated team with a lot on the line.
“You want to play good competition and test yourself as a coach. You want to test your program and see where it stands. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Both teams got off to an 0-2 start against quality nonleague opponents and haven’t lost since.
Defense may rule the night in a matchup of the GMC’s two best squads on that side of the ball. Fairfield is allowing 194.7 yards and 12.7 points per game. Colerain is giving up 210.6 yards and 9.1 points per game.
“We’re going to be mentally and physically prepared for Colerain,” Indians senior linebacker Nashon Bell said. “I feel like the defense is actually growing week by week. We’ve been handling our keys right. I’ve got confidence in my team.”
The Cardinals have dominated the conference for so long that the only real discussion on an annual basis seems to center on who will finish second.
But Colerain coach Tom Bolden knows this Fairfield team has the athletes to compete with his crew. The Cardinals are the GMC kings until somebody proves otherwise, but Bolden knows nothing lasts forever.
“Someday our streak will end. I just hope it’s not on my watch,” he said. “Put me out to pasture and then let it happen.
“We’re going to get their Super Bowl. This is one of the biggest games in Fairfield in a long time, so we know that going in. They’re going to be all fired up for it, and they’ve got a ton of D-I talent.”
Colerain has plenty of talent as well. The 50 slant-and-angle defense is stocked with studs, guys like inside linebackers Dan and Luke Bolden, outside linebacker Ivan Pace Jr., cornerback Ja’von Hicks, and safeties Jakari Patterson and Deshawn Pace.
Tom Bolden wants his crew to play fast, physical football to offset the Indians’ size advantage up front.
“We’re not very big with our D-line, but we’re pretty stout at the linebacking corps,” Bolden said. “In terms of overall athleticism, I think we’re very similar.”
“To me, they’re playing Colerain football,” Krause said. “They’re tough and physical and fast on both sides of the ball, and they’ve got a kicker that kicks it in the end zone. I don’t know how they keep finding that guy every year. As big a school as we are, we keep struggling trying to find a guy like that.”
Fairfield’s offense has mirrored the progression of junior quarterback Jeff Tyus (77 of 145, 883 yards, seven TDs), who played AAU basketball with Luke Bolden. The Indians are on the rise as a running team too, and a large part of that is being good enough aerially that opponents have to pick their poison in deciding what to focus on.
“We really started improving under fire,” Krause said. “We had young kids that were inexperienced, but we really could sit back and watch our inexperienced kids getting better and better every week, especially our quarterback.”
Colerain has been known for its triple-option offense for years, and a lot of guys are seeing the ball. The Cardinals have five guys between 140 and 500 rushing yards, led by fullback Ivan Pace (57 carries, 490 yards, nine TDs). Quarterback Gunnar Leyendecker has run for 347 yards and thrown for 438.
That offense will be operating against a Fairfield defense that is particularly nasty against the run. Malik Vann & Co. are giving up 67.4 rushing yards per game.
“I think we’re both much better teams from the first two games of the year without a doubt,” said Tom Bolden, whose team opened with defeats at the hands of defending state champions La Salle and St. Xavier. “We put ourselves in playoff mode in Week 3 once we got into GMC play, and we’re still there.
“You wish there was some new adage you could come up with, but really it just comes down to that same old taking care of the football. We need to try to force some turnovers on defense, and we need to take care of the ball when we have it.”
Colerain leads this series 17-5. The Cardinals are 13-0 against Fairfield since 1999, winning by an average score of 44-7.
What: Colerain (5-2, 5-0 GMC) at Fairfield (5-2, 5-0 GMC), 7 p.m.
Where: Fairfield Stadium, Ohio 4 and Stadium Drive, Fairfield
Last year: Colerain won 28-0