Fairfield-Colerain: Former hoop teammates set to square off on football field

Jeff Tyus and Luke Bolden are eager to take each other down on the football field.

Somebody’s going to walk away from that clash feeling unsatisfied, but the former basketball teammates will be ready to shake hands however it turns out.


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It’s one of the numerous subplots in the Fairfield-Colerain prep football showdown Friday night in Colerain Township. It’s Tyus, Fairfield’s senior offensive leader at quarterback, facing off against Bolden, Colerain’s senior defensive leader at inside linebacker.

They became friends and teammates a couple years ago playing AAU basketball with the Cincinnati Lakers. It was just one season together, but it meant something to both of them.

“Showed up at a tryout, and the next thing you know I’m playing with (Tyus) and we’re really good friends playing basketball together,” Bolden said. “Talking football, traveling the country playing basketball … it was good.”

Tyus said he had never spoken with Bolden before tryout day with the Lakers, an organization founded by Walnut Hills coach Ricardo Hill.

“He’s a great kid,” Tyus said. “We were real good teammates. I love him outside of football.”

How good were they as basketball players? Bolden remembers it like this:

“We were ballers. We balanced each other out. He’s a points guy. He could dribble the ball better and all that, but me, I’m getting rebounds and I’m dishing it out. I’m in the paint a lot, getting chippy … you know how it is.”

The AAU basketball experience was a new one for Colerain football coach Tom Bolden, Luke’s father. But he said it was very positive.

“It was great watching them play,” Tom said. “Jeff’s mother is a wonderful woman. His dad’s a great guy. Jeff’s older sister actually went to Colerain and played a little basketball back in the day. I got to know the family and enjoyed hanging out with them.

“Believe it or not, Luke was actually a pretty darn good little basketball player. He couldn’t dribble it real well, but he had great touch on his shot, and he could rebound and play D and do the inside dirty work. Jeff was in the 5 spot because he was taller than everybody and had a great left-handed shot. Luke kind of came along and helped Jeff get away from the basket. They just naturally became friends right from the get-go.”

Today, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Luke Bolden leads Colerain with 53 tackles and three interceptions. He’s verbally committed to Miami University and head coach Chuck Martin.

Colerain has two other seniors, wingback/cornerback Syncere Jones and offensive lineman Rusty Feth, committed to Miami. Tom Bolden has a connection with Martin — they coached together for a year at Wittenberg University (Bolden was a graduate assistant) — and likes his commitment to recruiting Cincinnati-area players.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Tyus missed two-plus games in the Fairfield lineup earlier this season because of an injury. He’s still thrown for 1,040 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Tyus and Luke Bolden still talk occasionally and will converse through social media. But they are both determined to win Friday and understand that friendship has to be pushed to the side this week.

“That’s how it is,” Bolden said. “We’ll be friends until whatever. We won’t be friends in between the lines.”

“Outside of football, that’s my guy,” Tyus said. “It’s definitely all love after the game, but during the game, there’s just no love for him or that team.”

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