Inexperienced East receivers have been stepping up

Columbus East came into this football season with a grand total of one catch from returning wide receivers.

But through four games, a trio of inexperienced receivers have came through with several big plays for the Olympians, and that has helped them get off to a 3-1 start.

“We knew coming into the year that we had a bunch of receivers, but we didn’t know who was going to have those spots, so we had to work our tails off to make sure we could earn the starting spots,” sophomore Dalton Back said. “I didn’t expect to have as much success as I did. I just hope to keep it going and keep the progress we’ve been having.”

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Back has been East’s top receiver with eight catches for 134 yards and one touchdown. That score came in a season-opening win at Bloomington South, a game in which he also had an interception on defense.

Klayton Brummett, a 5-9, 165-pound senior, has five catches for 107 yards and a score. Cody Horner, a 5-6, 145-pound junior, has three catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

“We thought they were pretty good little athletes that could play out there,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “All those guys worked very hard in the offseason. They worked in the weight room. They worked on becoming faster and running good routes. They’re not big guys, but they’ve done a really good job blocking for us, too.”

East had a pair of taller receivers last year in Cam Wilson and Caleb Voelker, both of whom are now playing college football. A pair of defensive backs — Ethan Summa and Jonah Wichman — also saw some action at receiver last year and again this year.

Horner’s one catch last season is the only one among the Olympians’ returning receivers who are primarily offensive players.

“We had to prepare a lot in the offseason, because we’d didn’t really have the experience on varsity,” Horner said. “We just have to keep improving on what we’re pretty good at. We have to work a lot on blocking and catching the ball and getting upfield after the catch.”

Horner did exactly that on Friday night at Jennings County. He caught two short passes from backup quarterback Cole Gilley and turned them into 45- and 51-yard touchdowns.

Brummett also caught his first career touchdown pass on Friday. He hauled in a 39-yarder from starter Josh Major during East’s 62-7 win.

“It definitely felt good,” Brummett said. “The first one is always the hardest to get. A lot of people look at Josh and his size and athletic ability and don’t expect him to be able to throw the ball 40 yards down the field, but when he can, it’s definitely a deadly weapon.”

Brummett is playing football for the first time since his sophomore year. He broke his collarbone while playing JV football that year and sat out last season.

Brummett did play baseball last year and has looked at Franklin and Hanover as possible destinations to continue with his baseball career if he decides to pursue that sport beyond high school.

“To be honest, I was afraid I was going to get hurt (in football) again, so I stuck with just baseball last year,” Brummett said. “This year, I decided to come back because I missed it too much, and I’m glad I came back. Not playing last year, I knew I had a lot of ground to make up, so I just came out and worked my tail off every day.”

Pass-catching trio

A look at Columbus East’s three main wide receivers:

Dalton Back

Year: Sophomore

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 170

Stats: Eight catches for 134 yards and one TD

Klayton Brummett

Year: Senior

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 165

Stats: Five catches for 107 yards and one TD

Cody Horner

Year: Junior

Height: 5-foot-6

Weight: 145

Stats: Three catches for 110 yards and two TDs

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