North coach can tie school’s all-time wins record

Things didn’t go too well for Tim Bless his first season at Columbus North.

The Bull Dogs lost their first eight games and finished 1-9 in that 2000 football season. But their fortunes quickly took an upward turn.

North got progressively better until going 12-2 and reaching the semistate in 2004. The Bull Dogs made it back to semistate in 2006 and 2007, going 12-2 again in 2007.

Now in his 18th year at North, Bless is one win away from tying the school’s all-time wins record set by the coach for which its field is named — Max Andress.

Andress went 118-79-10 in 21 seasons from 1951-71. Bless is 117-80 going into Friday’s Conference Indiana game at Terre Haute North.

“If and when it happens, it will be a humbling experience, thinking about a legend, Max Andress, and stepping into his rarefied air,” Bless said. “But ultimately, it’s about having coached a lot of great football players over the years and having great assistant coaches.”

A Greenwood High School graduate, Bless played for his father at University of Indianapolis. He was an assistant coach at Pike his first year out of college, then spent three years as defensive coordinator at Lebanon.

Bless’ first head coaching stop was at Paoli, where he went 7-4 in 1998 and 5-5 in 1999, before taking over at North.

“I’m certainly proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Bless said. “There are a lot of challenges to this job, and not to anybody’s fault, but being in a two-school corporation, being in a terribly small school in a big class. That makes the successes we’ve had that much more rewarding.”

Golfers ready for regional

The Columbus North and Columbus East girls golfers will aim for top-three finishes in Saturday’s Lapel Regional, which would qualify them for next weekend’s state finals.

The Bull Dogs will tee off from 10:20 to 11 a.m. on No. 1 at The Edge Golf Course in Anderson. The Olympians will tee off from 10:40 to 11:20 a.m. on No. 10.

Third-ranked North is the defending regional champion and this year’s tournament favorite. Three other teams — No. 7 Hamilton Southeastern, No. 8 Fishers and No. 15 Cathedral — are in the 18-team field.

Cathedral posted the best sectional score — a 297 in the Lawrence Central Sectional at South Grove — of the teams entered in the Lapel Regional. Fishers shot 306 and Hamilton Southeastern 320 in the Noblesville Sectional at Harbour Trees.

The Bull Dogs won the Greensburg Sectional with a 313 at Greensburg Country Club. The Olympians had a 356, the same as second-place Greensburg.

The top three teams, plus the top five individuals not on a qualifying team, advance to the state finals, which will be Sept. 29-30 at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.

North soccer rescheduled

Columbus North’s girls soccer game against Perry Meridian that was rained out last week has been rescheduled.

The teams will play a junior varsity game at 10 a.m. Saturday. The varsity will follow at around 11:30 a.m.

Soccer draws are Sunday

The IHSAA will conduct drawings for its boys and girls soccer tournaments at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Also, the boys tennis draw will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The football draw is at noon Oct. 1, and the volleyball draw is at 7 p.m. Oct. 2.

All of those pairings will be streamed on the IHSAA’s video portal, IHSAAtv.org.

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