A high-powered New Palestine offense averaging 57 points a game took the field for Friday night’s sectional opener looking for a big play to begin the game.

Ethan Summa made sure it didn’t happen.

The Columbus East junior safety intercepted a Gunnar Large pass on the first play from scrimmage and returned it 31 yards to set up a touchdown. That propelled the Class 5A No. 4 Olympians to a 35-7 upset against the 5A No. 2 Dragons.

“That was huge,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “He’s been playing well the second half of the season in particular.”

That wasn’t the first time this season that Summa has began a game with a huge play. He returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a score in 56-14 rout of Jeffersonville Oct. 8 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Summa leads the Olympians with 57 tackles.

“Defensively, he’s really getting an understanding of what we’re doing,” Gaddis said. “Special teams, he’s making a lot of plays, and now, we’re trying him a little bit on offense. He’s really come into his own. He’s become a great leader for us by example, and I think the sky is the limit for him.”

Gaddis began using Summa as a third wide receiver after senior Austin Smith, who had filled that role, sustained a concussion. Summa caught his first pass of the season Friday, a 12-yarder from quarterback Josh Major.

Wide receiver is a familiar position for Summa, who played almost exclusively on defense and played a little special teams last year.

“Freshman year, I started out at wide receiver, and that’s what I liked,” Summa said. “Then, I moved to defense, and I’ve loved it. But now, going back to (offense), it just brings back old memories.”

Summa isn’t certain if he will pursue football at the collegiate level. He wants to go into business like his brother Taylor, who played at Columbus North and for two years at Marian and is now a senior at Marian.

East (9-1) will host Martinsville on Friday night in theĀ  sectional semifinals. Not many people expected the Olympians to still be playing after the playoff pairings were announced.

“When we heard that draw, we knew we could beat (New Palestine),” Ethan Summa said. “We watched film, so we all had confidence that we could beat them. We knew we had the same skill level as them or even better, and it just came down to our preparation and going out there and competing.”

Although he is on the field almost the entire time on defense and on some of the special teams and sees spot duty on offense, Summa doesn’t seem to get too tired.

“I have so much adrenaline going through me, I’m just glad to be out there and helping my team win,” Summa said. “It’s awesome just to be out there.”

Ethan Summa

Name: Ethan Summa

School: Columbus East

Year: Junior

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 180

Position: Safety/wide receiver/punt returner

Sports: Football, basketball, track

Other school activities: National Honor Society

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