Winning has become the norm for a Columbus East football program that has lost just four regular season games in the past eight seasons.
Maintaining a winning culture each year does not come easily without a good coaching staff. Fortunately for the Olympians, head coach Bob Gaddis has several assistant coaches who have been with him for most of his 17 years at East.
Wide receivers coach Jonathan Martin, who has been with the program for 25 seasons, has seen the program grow since Gaddis took over.
“Coach Gaddis has just done a wonderful job of taking us from the ashes all the way to the riches,” Martin said. “He’s made it that Columbus East has a winning tradition. We work very hard at all of the fundamentals that are needed in football. Coach Gaddis has just instilled a work-hard, winning tradition here.”
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The Olympians are headed to their third state title game in the past five years. East will compete in its second consecutive Class 5A championship game, which kicks off at 7:05 p.m. today at Lucas Oil Stadium against Kokomo.
The Olympians won the 4A championship in 2013.
Gaddis is at the head of the program, but he gives a lot of credit to the eight varsity assistant coaches who surround him. The coaching doesn’t start and stop with the beginning and end of the football season. It’s a year-round process that includes players who are encouraged to compete in other sports during the offseason. This season started in January, as it always does for East, with weightlifting and workouts. The entire staff is heavily involved in the Olympians year-round process.
“I have a great coaching staff,” Gaddis said. “I’ve told several people before that sometimes, assistant coaches’ labor is a labor of love. They don’t get a lot of recognition, but our guys work extremely hard at it, and it’s not just now that they work hard at it. They start working in January, and they’re there every day when our kids are there.”
Coaches like Martin, running backs coach Pete Manowitz, offensive line coach David Miller and defensive coordinator Eddie Vogel all have been with Gaddis for more than a decade. Gaddis also is surrounded by new coaches like strength coach Scott Pherson and defensive line coach Jarrod Pennycuff, who have been on staff for one and two years, respectively.
Every assistant from safety coach Brian Muckerheide to cornerbacks coach John Sims plays a significant role in making sure nearly 100 athletes are all on the same page to execute the game plan each week.
Each coach will review film from the game before and then meet together as a staff to discuss what they saw and come up with the game plan for the next week. Vogel said one important thing that helps everything come together is the fact that every coach has the ability to coach with zero micromanaging taking place.
“That’s the thing here I think is unique about coach Gaddis is, he lets coaches coach,” Vogel said. “In the offseason, we’ll all go to clinics and stuff, we’ll try to get better at coaching and try to find some things that will help make our guys better. When we lay the plan out on Sunday, I think the expectation is that we’re all going to coach our guys they way they need to be coached to win on Friday night. He just lets you coach.”
The staff has just one game left on the schedule to cap off another successful year for the Olympians (13-1). Kokomo (9-4) avenged two of its regular season losses to start the tournament and reached the state title with a 21-14 victory against Michigan City.
“They’re physical and fast,” Vogel said. “Just like every week when you play through the tournament, you get good quality opponents. They’re doing something right if they came out of the north. You’re going to probably find that 1A through 6A. They are a good football team. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, and we have to be able to match that confidence, physicality and speed on Friday night.”
Columbus East’s assistant football coaches and their years of service:
Pete Manowitz;Running backs coach;12 years
Jonathon Martin;Wide receivers coach; 25 years
David Miller;Offensive line coach;11 years.
Brian Muckerheide;Safety coach;four years
Jarrod Pennycuff;Defensive line coach;two years
Scott Pherson;Strength/tight ends coach;one year
John Sims;Cornerbacks coach;seven years
Eddie Vogel;Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach; 15 years