Kade Messner ’17 & Paul Hurley ’16- There is a first time for everything and the Romeo Bulldog football program presents one first after another.
This story begins in the hallways of Romeo High School in 1992, Jason Couch, a senior and Curt Rienas, a sophomore, both playing integral parts of one of the winningest Romeo football teams in history. The team went 10-2 and made it into the state semifinals.
After that season, Couch and Rienas went their separate ways, only to meet back up at Romeo High School years later.
2000: A season of sorrow, the Romeo football team finishes the year without a win for the first time in the program’s history.
2003: A season of skepticism, Jason Couch and Curt Rienas were named the first co-coaches in the state of Michigan. The critics of co-coaching began to voice negative opinions after a 4-5 season in the MAC White.
2004: A season of renewal, the coaches lead the team to their first playoff appearance as head coaches.
2008: A season of missed opportunity, the Bulldogs lose on a last second field goal to end their potential state championship goals, in the second round of the state playoffs
2010: A season of heartbreak, Romeo comes back with a vengeance, only to throw an interception in the endzone to lose in triple overtime to Eisenhower High School in the District Championship game. Despite the loss, the coaches were not defeated.
2015: A season of firsts, the team finishes the regular season 8-1 and went on a historical run in the playoffs. Culminating the school’s first District Championship, Regional Championship, and the school’s first Division 1 State Championship.
“This year was so unique because we could have so much fun and still stay focused on the prize,” Rienas said. “Also every week we could of had 18 different captains because of how involved everyone was.”
Flashback to Romeo’s only loss of the 2015 season against Eisenhower, which due to heartache and disappointment resulted in the first team meeting. At the meeting, Rienas and Couch unified a passionate team and reestablished the goals the team set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season.
After the meeting the team could not be stopped.
District Semifinals: Romeo prevails over back to back state champions Clarkston, 28-14.
District Championship: On Halloween night the team’s tenacity pays off as they avenge last years playoff defeat against Lapeer, winning the game 34-14, and taking home a District Championship trophy.
Regional Championship: Going up against Detroit Catholic Central, a team known for sheer playoff dominance, Romeo dismantled them from start to finish. The Bulldogs never punted the ball, winning 40-29.
State Semifinals: Surviving a 15 inch blizzard in Brighton, the Bulldogs advanced to Ford Field taking down undefeated Grand Ledge, 48-21.
State Championship: Couch and Rienas lead the community to their first State Title, defeating Cass Technical High School 41-27, at Ford Field.
“So many things have been special,” Rienas said. “We have had several teams who have worked as hard as Team 90, but this is the most top to bottom talented team we have ever coached. What set us apart was we all had high expectations and we all believed we could achieve them.
Jason Couch and Curt Rienas. Curt Rienas and Jason Couch.
It does not matter which way you say it, they go hand-in-hand.
“From the get go I heard criticism,” Couch said. “People were doubting it, and saying that there would be too much tension”
Boy, did they prove the doubters wrong.
Making the playoffs 12 of the 13 seasons they have coached is just a start. The coaches brought home the school’s first District and Regional crowns, along with winning the Division 1 State Championship.
No one is doubting Couch and Rienas now.