BLOOMINGTON — Bob Gaddis has come to realize in his nearly four decades as a football coach that teams make the biggest improvement from the scrimmage to the first week of the regular season and from the first week to the second.
Gaddis’ Columbus East squad made that big jump after playing an even scrimmage with Martinsville last week. The Class 5A No. 2 Olympians kicked off the 2017 season with a 42-17 win at Bloomington North.
“We wanted to be more consistent,” Gaddis said. “I thought we were a more physical football team tonight than we were last week. As I told the kids after the game, when we decided to crank it up, I thought we played really well.”
East was led by its usual suspects. Jamon Hogan carried 18 times for 162 yards and three touchdowns, and Josh Major completed 9 of 9 passes for 98 yards and two scores.
The Olympians rushed for 341 yards as a team.
“The whole team was just champing at the bit to get after it and actually hit someone else,” Major said. “I thought the offense was really moving the ball well all night. We’ve been putting a lot of hard work this offseason, but we’ve definitely been looking forward to getting back out here and playing some games.”
East took advantage of a Dalton Back interception to punch in the first score of the game. Hogan took it the final five yards.
After the Olympians forced a three-and-out, Back struck again when he caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Major. After an errant extra point snap, holder Jonah Wichman ran in the 2-point conversion for a 15-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game.
“Coach told us the first six minutes tells you how the game is going to go, and we came out strong,” Hogan said.
Bloomington North drove for a 28-yard field goal by Ben Freel to cut the lead to 15-3. But East answered with a 19-yard run by Hogan.
The Cougars then got in the end zone on a 3-yard run by Freel. The Olympians then executed the 2-minute drill to perfection, with Major finding Ethan Summa for a 10-yard score with 5 seconds left in the half for a 28-10 halftime lead.
East ended any suspense when Hogan ran for touchdowns on its first two series of the second half.
“It’s the type of game that always I feel like I’m capable of having,” Hogan said. “People sometimes like to doubt our offensive line, but I have to give it to them. They brought it when we needed it.”
The Olympians did not have to punt until the fourth quarter. East, which gave up four touchdown passes in the scrimmage, allowed a 72-yard scoring pass midway through the fourth quarter.
Still, the Olympians harassed Freel into 7-of-18 passing for 102 yards and two interceptions. Julian Greenwell had the other pick for East.
“We just tried to get him occupied and make bad passes and make it go to our guys,” linebacker Charlie Burton said. “They were big on the line, but it’s all about timing. For linebacker drills, we’ve been working on our drop steps and getting out into the flat, which makes the quarterback throw over us.”