For three hours Friday night, Steve Specht and Tom Bolden don’t care for one another too much.
The other hours of the year? Well, the good friends enjoy each other’s company and have a good deal of fun.
But, this Friday night – as so often is the case with these two programs – the area’s spotlight will be on the St. Xavier at Colerain game starting at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium.
“For the most part I’m not a big fan of playing my friends,” St. X coach Steve Specht said. “However, I think the St. X-Colerain rivalry is a healthy rivalry that is good for high school sports. The kids play hard and fight their tails off for 48 minutes but there is a mutual respect. At the end of the game – win or lose – the kids know they are better for the experience.”
RELATED: Super 25 Score Predictor – Week 3
RELATED: Super 25 Expert Rankings
RELATED: Super 25 Schedule
Friday night is the 31st meeting between the two programs. St. X leads the series 20-10 including two wins in 2014 (Week 2 and the regional quarterfinal).
St. X (1-0) is ranked No. 2 in The Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll, while Colerain (1-0) is ranked No. 3. The Cardinals are ranked No. 9 nationally by the USA Today Super 25 rankings.
Both coaches say their respective programs need to improve from Week 1. Both teams know each other very well but the personnel is slightly different each season.
This Friday night may very well be a matchup of Colerain’s speed versus St. Xavier’s size.
“When you play a team like St. X you got to execute almost to perfection,” Bolden said.
Colerain defeated Warren Central (Ind.) 27-16 in Week 1 at Nippert Stadium. Senior quarterback Deshaunte Jones had 14 carries for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Bolden was concerned Jones missed four or five reads so the Cardinals offense wants to sharpen some things up for this week.
Specht has his own concerns about the Colerain standout quarterback.
“Deshaunte Jones is a special talent,” Specht said. “He’s a lot of fun to watch but a nightmare for which to prepare. We have to neutralize him as he can score from anywhere on the field with both his arm and his legs.”
Colerain has several key ingredients on both sides of the ball. Junior fullback Monalo Caldwell had 123 yards rushing a touchdown last week. Bolden was also impressed with senior running back Zach Johnson.
Senior lineman Desmond Noel and junior lineman Howard Watkins played well on both sides of the ball.
Junior cornerback Amir Riep had two interceptions and was given the team’s MVP poster for his performance. Junior safety Keontae Jones, who is Deshaunte’s younger brother, led the team in tackles (12) in Week 1.
St. X defeated Covington Catholic 57-7 at Nippert Stadium in Week 1. The St. X offense which put up 50 points in the first half last week – the most the Bombers scored in a half since current stats recorded since 1964.
Still, Specht wants to see improvement. The Bombers were in unfamiliar territory with that large margin against an opponent.
“We are still trying to develop an identity on both sides of the ball and this week will go a long way in helping us see our strengths and weaknesses,” Specht said.
Bolden said the Cardinals are well aware of the solid offense the Bombers put on the field.
Last week, St. X junior quarterback Sean Clifford (Penn State commit) was 9 of 11 passing for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior running back Sean Prophit rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Senior tight end Noah Davis (Michigan State commit), senior tight end Brock Davin, sophomore running back Cameron Specht and junior Pete Rumpke were among others with touchdowns in the first half for the Bombers.
“This week we are 0-0 with an opportunity to be one of the team with a victory but we need to get individually better so that collectively we become a better football team,” Specht said. “I’m not sure what we learned from Friday’s game other than we executed on both sides of the ball.”