Even with all its accomplishments, Columbus East’s number of double-digit win totals is nothing short of impressive.
Defeating a one-win Franklin squad, 56-28, in a Class 5A sectional match-up Friday night makes the second-ranked Olympians 10-0 entering next Friday’s home semifinal against No. 6 Whiteland (7-2).
It’s the fifth consecutive season — and 10th in the past 12 — that coach Bob Gaddis’s program has posted a minimum of 10 ‘W’s.
Senior back Steven O’Neal posted massive numbers for the Olympians, rushing for 351 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone behind an offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage from the start.
Not that the host Grizzly Cubs made it easy.
Franklin’s 21-20 lead after one quarter of play seemed to be the splash of cold water Columbus East needed.
The Olympians scored the game’s next 36 points to put the game away before surrendering a Franklin touchdown late in the fourth.
“(Franklin) came out and played their tail ends off. I knew they would. I said before we played them how impressed I was with how hard they play. They get after it, and we were worried about that triple-option offense,” Gaddis said.
“The line has been the backbone of our offense for the past few years. We’ve got some really good players in there, and Steven O’Neal had a great first half. The good news is we didn’t stop ourselves. I was really happy with the way we controlled the ball in the first half.”
The first quarter alone took 40 minutes to play with the teams combining for six of the nine first-half touchdowns that were scored.
O’Neal’s TD runs covered, in order, 9, 12, 58, 46 and 73 yards for an offense that finished the night with 515 rushing yards and another 61 through the air, as sophomore quarterback Josh Major completed both his pass attempts.
Franklin (1-9) churned out 291 rushing yards. Senior fullback Zach Dowell was the Grizzly Cubs’ workhorse with 30 carries for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
Overall, the Olympians cranked out 407 yards of total offense in the opening half compared to Franklin’s 193.
The opening 12 minutes might have been Franklin’s finest quarter of football this season, at least offensively.
With Columbus North building a 20-7 lead with 2:09 still to play in the first quarter, it looked as though the Grizzly Cubs might be in for a long night.
Then Franklin senior Zach Dowell busted free for a 68-yard run down to the Columbus East 8. Junior quarterback Jake Moore then called his own number, working the left side for the 8-yard scoring run.
Franklin’s confidence continued on the ensuing kickoff with the Cubs pouncing on an Olympians fumble at the Columbus East 32. Three plays later it was Dowell plowing ahead for a 17-yard score for the home team’s lone lead of the evening.
From that point, the Olympians took control and never looked back.
“I anticipated this type of game. We played through all those things that could happen. We worked on onside kicks all week, fake punts and trick plays because we knew Franklin had everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Gaddis said.
All four Columbus East ball carriers scored at least one touchdown. Aside from running for 104 yards on nine carries sophomore Jamon Hogan produced a 4-yard TD, while Major and fullback Sam Dwenger took it in from 3 and 2 yards, respectively.