Get Familiar: Joe Bolden

August, 29, 2011
The season-opening task for the Colerain High School (Cincinnati, Ohio) football team seemed like a daunting one.

On Sunday, the Cardinals took on then-No. 24 Cocoa High School (Cocoa, Fla.), a team that had the nation’s fourth-longest current winning streak at 38 games. And to add to the pressure, the game was shown on national TV as part of the ESPN High School Football Kickoff.

But to Colerain senior Joe Bolden and his teammates, the contest was also the perfect opportunity to show the country their team was for real. And Bolden, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder who’s rated the nation’s No. 6 inside linebacker by ESPNU, made the most of his opportunity, tallying 12 tackles to help lead the Cardinals to a 17-7 victory.

Bolden, who’s committed to Michigan, also completed a 36-yard pass off a fake punt that helped set up Colerain’s first touchdown. The victory allowed Colerain to move into this week’s POWERADE FAB 50 ESPNHS Team Rankings at No. 44.

Last season, St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati) edged Colerain, 24-23, in the Division I regional semifinals, so Bolden felt the Cocoa game was a good way for the Cardinals to help rid themselves of the sour taste that stayed with them throughout the offseason.

So where does Bolden go from here? It’s time to Get Familiar with this stud ‘backer.


SCHOOL: Colerain High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
CLASS: 2012
POSITION: Inside Linebacker
HT: 6-2
WT: 225
COLLEGE: Michigan

TV SHOW: “Burn Notice”
ACTOR: John Wayne
RINGTONE: “The Cowboy in Me” by Tim McGraw
ATHLETE: Tim Tebow & Clay Matthews
FOOD: Grandma’s BBQ
TEAMS: Colerain, Michigan & New England Patriots

On Beating Cocoa
“It’s a very good way to start 2011 and hopefully the first of 15 steps to win a state title. They’re a very good team and it means a lot, but we have to get ready for this week’s game.”

On Colerain’s Defense
“There’s no change in our defense from any Colerain defense of the past — we love to fly to the ball. When one person gets there, the other players get there as well. I like to run and hit. I’m a smart player who makes the right plays at the right time.”

On this Season
“We want to prove that Colerain doesn’t rebuild — we reload. Our slogan this year is, ‘One.’ It stands for the one-point loss to St. X, it stands for being the one team left standing at the end of the year and for the one practice that will help make you better than any other team.”

NEXT UP: Bolden and Colerain host Ryle High School (Union, Ky.) on Friday night.

Jon Mahoney covers football for ESPNHS magazine and Email him at to let him know which high school football player he should Get Familiar with.

Jon Mahoney is a football and baseball editor for ESPNHS. Email him at



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