INDIANAPOLIS — One by one, Columbus East senior center Harry Crider’s offensive lineman congratulated him with hugs and tears. Plenty of tears.
It was that kind of ending for Crider and his Olympians’ teammates, losing 16-13 to Westfield in the Class 5A state title game Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Crider, who has committed to play football at Indiana University, was being congratulated for winning the IHSAA Class 5A Eskew Mental Attitude Award. But it was bittersweet.
“It means a lot,” Crider said of the honor. “It hurts right now, but it will mean a lot later. I got to give it up for our guys. I couldn’t have gotten that award without any of the other guys here. It’s a team award, not for just me.”
Crider was impressed with the No. 5 Shamrocks’ (12-2) athleticism.
“They’re a very fast team, probably the fastest team we played,” Crider said. “That gave them an advantage. This game was a winnable game. I’m really proud of our guys. Our offensive line played as hard as we could. We played our hearts out. We proved how tough East football is.”
East junior quarterback Josh Major echoed the comments about the Shamrocks’ toughness.
“They’re a great team, very physical and aggressive,” Major said. “They were keeping pressure all night. We had a couple of miscues that we’d like to have back. They made plays when they had to, and they deserved to win.”
The No. 4 Olympians finished with a 13-2 record with the only other loss coming to 6A Columbus North.
“We definitely had a great year,” Major said. “This is going to sting for a while because we wanted to win a state title. Obviously, it’s not the way we wanted it to end. But in a couple of months we’ll be able to say it was a pretty good season.”
Defensively, the Olympians held the Shamrocks to one touchdown, but that was enough as Will Harrison kicked field goals of 52, and 44 and 42 yards.
“We hoped we could go toe-to-toe with them a little bit,” defensive coordinator Eddie Vogel said. “We know they have a good kicker and field position was going to be an issue. If we could hold them to field goals, our offense would have a chance to win the football game. It really came down to three points. I couldn’t be prouder of the kids and the way they played. We kind of ran out of time.”
Vogel felt his players’ pain and his own.
“It always stings,” Vogel said. “There are only six teams that don’t end the season with a loss. It’s rough. When the guys have time to reflect, they’ll see how special the season was.”
As a 12-year-old, senior defensive lineman Clayton Cordier promised his older brother he would win a state title for him after his brother Westin’s East squad lost in the second round of the sectional six years ago. He came close as his brother came in from Idaho to see the game.
“We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but we fought hard. I hope he knows that,” Cordier said. “We just kept fighting and they were fighting, too. They kept making the plays and we couldn’t convert when we needed to.”
Cordier praised the support from East crowd
“We had a ton of people come out,” Cordier said. “We couldn’t do it without them. We couldn’t make it here without the fans we have. We love them and we hope they come out again next year.”