Powerhouse Columbus East: Where do they belong?

By now most are aware of the trouncing the Columbus East football team gave Cathedral in last night’s semifinal game, an astounding 42-13 victory. The Olympians will make their second consecutive trip to the class 5A state championship since moving up from class 4A in 2016. They will seek their second title in 5 years in two different classes. The East Olympian 2013 team won the class 4A state championship and were one of the most dominant teams in the state, featuring 2014 Mr. Football Markell Jones. The O’s as they’re dubbed completed the perfect season 15-0. The very next year they were a last second field goal away from making the return trip to the class 4A state championship. Losing to eventual champion New Palestine.

photo: The Republic

Fast forward to 2016 the Olympians often criticized for their soft schedule, we’ll touch on that in a second, made the jump to class 5A due to success factor and enrollment. Some felt the 5A road may be a challenge for the mighty O’s. However, all they have done is made two consecutive trips to the class’ state championship in their first two years. The O’s rolled into the 2016 title game with only one loss, we’ll touch on that later as well, with the task of beating a well rounded Westfield team. A Shamrock team headed to 6A due to enrollment, was picked to demolish this little ole team from Columbus. The game like most games the Olympians lose, was close to the very last second. Westfield escaped with a field goal, defeating the Olympians 16-13.

Heading into the 2017 season with key losses to graduation, ‘experts’ outside of Columbus predicted a somewhat down year for the Olympians. Cathedral who had a somewhat unsuccessful stretch in class 6A chose to step down to class 5A and immediately became the favorite to win the title. The Olympians had other plans. With only one blemish on their record, the 12-1 Olympians dismantled the Cathedral Irish, handing them their only 5A loss in the history of the program. This however was not supposed to happen. We touched on earlier in the week, dubbing Cathedral the ‘Olympian Kryptonite’ as the Irish are responsible for sending four really good East teams packing in four semifinal games. This East team saw otherwise and overpowered the 12x state champion. The Olympians silenced all doubters including us, and should be favored to win the class 5A title.

Where does this put the Olympians in terms of some of the great programs in the state? I believe in the top 5 discussion. Some will say hey it’s 4A and 5A or the “they don’t play in the MIC” but that shouldn’t deter you from including them in discussion with the best. Columbus East is the state’s winningest program for the last decade. They feature two Mr. Football award winners with several position award winners. They will most likely win three state championships in three different classes. Albeit in 1979, class 3A was the largest class, but that only strengthens the argument.

The Olympians will likely cruise to 100 straight conference wins including playoffs by this time next year. They have 8 undefeated regular seasons. Including 10 sectional, 9 regional championships and 3 semi-state championships. Led by Indiana high school football Hall of Fame coach Bob Gaddis who secured his 300th career victory this season. We mentioned regular season success, the only loss in the regular season since 2006 has come at the hand of crosstown rival Columbus North. The Bull Dogs are the only ones seem to have their number. The O’s suffered a 30-13 and 34-17 defeat by the Bull Dogs the last two seasons. Looking at the rosters, and recent history of their junior varsity and freshman games, the Bull Dogs will be a tough outing for the Olympians for the next couple of years. The last team not wearing royal blue to beat the Olympians in the regular season was conference foe Bedford North Lawrence. For the record that was the only regular season loss that year. The last time the Olympians suffered a multiple loss regular season loss was in Bob Gaddis second year at the helm in 2003.

With all of this success, the Olympians were receiving pressure from teams within the Hoosier Hills conference to start looking for another home. The logical destination would be to join rival Columbus North in Conference Indiana. For whatever reason the Olympians are reluctant to join Conference Indiana despite competing with multiple teams from the conference in every sport at Columbus East. New athletic director Pete Huse petition for the O’s to join the Mid-State conference in 2016. They were denied and forced to return to the dismal Hoosier Hills conference.

The only reasonable option is to choose to play an independent schedule in football only. The East program could land a couple Ohio and Kentucky opponents, keep their rivalry game with Columbus North, add Cathedral and Chatard to complete a nine game schedule. Geographically it could work. Columbus is nestled just 45 minutes from Indianapolis, an hour from Louisville and just short of an hour from some Ohio counties. This team is a state powerhouse, who is destined to compete in 6A the next time the success factor cycle comes around. We’ll hear the “they can’t compete in 6A” argument. Ask Eric Moore at Center Grove if East can hang. In the 2009 sectional, East lost to the Trojans by 7 to only get revenge in 2010, defeating Center Grove 27-13 to win the sectional championship.

We’re not sure where they belong, but the O’s do belong as one of the state’s premier programs.

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