Colerain Coach Visits Tyler
Cincinnati Colerain head coach Kerry Coombs wanted to give his Cardinals a sense of what high school football means to Texas, so he took the entire team to see "Friday Night Lights."
"We wanted to see what (that level of passion is) like, and you guys are living it," Coombs said Wednesday at a news conference held at the Tyler Chamber of Commerce.
"When I think about high school football (in Ohio), you are proud of the tradition that your state has, but you also understand that there are places in the country where high school football is extremely special."
The media event showcased the teams and head coaches competing in this year's East Texas Football Classic, and officially announced the inaugural Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge, featuring Robert E. Lee and Colerain.
The game will kick off at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
"We expect this game to be played in front of a sellout crowd of about 24,000 and a national television audience," said Ken Halloy, Vice President of FSM Ltd., a Central Ohio sports marketing firm. "Which ESPN station will pick it up yet, we are not sure. It will likely be ESPN Classic or ESPN2."
The game is also being billed as part one of a two-part clash between Texas and Ohio, culminating in one of the most anticipated college football games of next season - Texas at Ohio State.
Herbstreit, a former Ohio State (1989-92) quarterback and now renowned college football analyst for "ESPN GameDay", released a statement about how pleased he is to premiere his high school event on the eve of the Texas-Ohio State game.
"It's Texas vs. Ohio, North vs. South, the tradition of Texas high school football against the tradition of Ohio high school football. It doesn't get any better than that," Herbstreit said. "The eyes of the football world will descend upon Columbus, Ohio that weekend, and I'm extremely thrilled to be a part of it."
Tyler Independent School District Athletic Director Danny Long called the game "one of those opportunities that may come around once in a career for a coach. I am sure Robert E. Lee will represent this state with class, and hopefully, open the door for many other Texas high schools to travel throughout the country in the coming years."
Dave Stephenson, president of TITUS Sports Marketing in Dallas, is responsible for creating the East Texas Football Classic, and had a large hand in the Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge. This is extra special for Stephenson because he and Halloy were college buddies, both attending Ohio State.
"I grew up in Cincinnati ... I thought Ohio football was great and then I came down here and thought it was a different level," Stephenson said. "Now I am going back to Ohio in what is my new home and my love - Texas high school football."
Lee vs. Colerain is a showdown of state champions. Lee won the Class 5A Division I state title and Colerain finished as Ohio Division I state champs. Both teams lost several key players to graduation, but are expected to defend their titles.
Lee head coach Mike Owens acknowledged Colerain's prowess last season, and added "We don't have the same team we did last year, and I am hoping that they don't for sure.
"We are looking forward to it and it's an opportunity I couldn't turn down for our kids," Owens said. "I don't enjoy flying that far, but our players will and that is what it's all about anyway."
Coombs said the Cardinals will have to replace several starters from last season after 32 players graduated.
"We have a lot of holes to fill," Coombs said. "We were lucky enough to have a good team last year, which has given us the opportunity to participate in a game like this.
"We could get beat 100-0, but we will have played the best team from the best state. And for us to be able to do that is invaluable."