East faces tough test in state-ranked Whiteland

If the Columbus East football team was tempted to look ahead to a possible sectional final showdown with New Palestine next week, all the Olympians had to do this week was look at the score of the last East-Whiteland game.

The Warriors came to Stafford Field and handed the Olympians a 59-22 setback in the 2010 sectional semifinals. This Whiteland team, which East will host tonight in another sectional semifinal battle, is perhaps just as good, if not better.

“(Looking ahead) won’t happen,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “We have a lot of respect for this (Whiteland) group. We go to camp with them and know what kind of program they are.”

The Warriors are 7-2 and ranked No. 6 in Class 5A. Both of their losses have come against top 6A teams — No. 1 Center Grove and No. 6 Avon.

“They’re a great opponent,” Gaddis said. “Coach (Darrin) Fisher has done a great job of bringing up that (program) to where it’s one of the top programs in the state.”

Gaddis and Fisher have worked together for several years in the Indiana Football Coaches Association. Gaddis is the executive director of the IFCA, while Fisher was the president and is now the technology director.

A few years ago, the teams started going to the Bishop Dullaghan camp together.

“We’re pretty close friends, as far as the professionalism of football,” Gaddis said. “I know him well, and I respect him a lot, and that’s why we started going to camp together.”

East assistant coach Michael McBride played for Fisher at Cascade, where Fisher operated the “fly” offense. He brought that offense with him to Whiteland, where he is 81-44 in his 11th year.

In the fly offense, the Warriors will put a man in motion about 90 percent of the time to set up the fly sweep. But they will also run power football off of that.

“It’s a little bit different,” Gaddis said. “A lot of people think of the fly as being a finesse offense like the spreads. Theirs is a fly power offense, and they want to run the football at you.”

Whiteland lost standout running back Shaw Cloud to an injury the third game of the season. The Warriors’ top rusher is senior Brandon Patterson, who has totaled 784 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Anthony Schantz adds 505 yards and seven scores.

Junior quarterback Jace Carpenter throws only about five times a game. He’s 26 of 48 for 422 yards and seven touchdowns, with only one interception.

Whiteland runs a 44 defense. Quentin Truex and Brandon Perry each have 11 tackles for losses.

“They’re very aggressive and quick,” Gaddis said. “We haven’t seen them give up very many yards or very many big plays or very many points. They’re pretty sound.”

The Olympians (10-0), ranked No. 2 in 5A, could see the return of three players who have missed all or part of this season with injuries. Safety Nick Andrie (bacterial infection), defensive lineman Quade Greiwe (knee) and quarterback K.J. McCarter (hamstring) all began practicing last week.

“All those guys want to go,” Gaddis said. “But we’re not going to put them out there unless they’re 100 percent.”

East and Whiteland have one common opponent. The Warriors beat Franklin 48-20, and the Olympians downed the Grizzly Cubs 56-28 in last week’s opening round.

Whiteland received a first-round bye, so it has had two weeks to prepare for East.

“They’re just a sound football team, and we’re going to have to be a sound football team to beat them,” Gaddis said.

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.