20 YEARS OF STATE CHAMPS! 20 STATE CHAMPIONS SERIES: 2015 ROMEO BULLDOGS
Romeo — The Romeo Bulldogs 2015 state football championship was a master work of collaboration and selflessness.
Led into battle by co-coaches Jason Couch and Curt Reinas, the Bulldogs played smart, aggressive and nearly mistake-free football all season long en route to the program’s first state crown. Romeo romped to a 13-1 record and MAC White banner. Couch and Reinas became the first two head coaches to win state titles at the same time. They are both Romeo grads and were hired as co-coaches in 2002.
“If you have good communication in any partnership, you can go far.” Couch said. “You throw egos out the window and go after what you want with a cohesive vision.”
Their players were equally in-sync. For the postseason, the Bulldogs all dyed their hair blonde. As in Romeo’s “Blonde Ambition” tour to a title.
The road to Ford Field for the Bulldogs in the playoffs was one made to sure test their resolve and competitive spirit. The powerhouse opponents were coming at them from all different directions.
Romeo knocked off two-time defending state champ Clarkston 28-14 in the district opener and outlasted Detroit Catholic Central 40-29 in the regionals. PSL juggernaut, the nationally-renowned Detroit Cass Tech Technicians, awaited Romeo in the state finals at Ford Field, just walking distance from Cass Tech’s campus.
The Bulldogs met the moment head-on, rose to the challenge and upended Goliath. And they did it in resounding fashion. They never trailed, never left their foot off the accelerator on their way to a 41-27 win in the 2011 Division 1 state championship game.
Senior slotback Brad Tanner rushed for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns against Cass Tech in the state finals. His 20-yard scoring scamper got the Romeo championship party started and his 16-yard back-breaking touchdown run in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter sealed the remarkable victory.
“I got the edge on those runs and then i put on the jets,” Tanner said.
Steady-handed quarterback Paul Hurley was a maestro under center all game, keeping Cass Tech on its heels and often times off balance. Hurley’s 40-yard touchdown hook-up with receiver Lucas Schimon in the second quarter put Romeo ahead 13-7. Hurley’s 20-yard rushing touchdown midway through the third quarter gave the Bulldogs a commanding 33-14 advantage. He threw for 205 yards in the game to cap a stellar prep career spinning the pigskin.
“You put faith in yourself, your teammates and most of all the system and the results can be pretty special,” Hurley said.
Junior free safety Kade Messner made a game-high 12 tackles to highlight the Romeo defense. Defense end Mitch Heimbuch had 5 tackles and a sack.
Heimbuch played tight end in college at Central Michigan. Tanner played in the secondary at Western Michigan. Hurley began his college football days as a quarterback at Northern Michigan and ended up as a linebacker for CMU.