INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly a half-hour after Columbus East had won the state championship, orange-clad Olympians were still on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, dancing and cheering in the end zone.
The Olympians had just beaten Kokomo 42-28 for their third football state title, and their second in the past five years. This was reason for celebration.
“It’s unbelievable,” senior quarterback Josh Major said. “Words can’t describe how I feel right now. I’m so proud of this team. We’re real resilient, and it’s amazing to come out on top. My teammates, I love them to death. It’s a special group of guys we have.”
East’s state championship Friday night was 52 weeks in the making. It wasn’t a result of four months of sweat and hard work.
It was an entire year’s worth of sacrifice, dedication and commitment to one common goal.
“It feels incredible,” senior safety Ethan Summa said. “After coming so close last year, it’s an unbelievable feeling right now. I can’t describe it.”
Last year, the Olympians had a feeling quite the opposite. They had fallen to Westfield 16-13 in the Class 5A state final. Heartbreak filled the Olympians as they lined up to receive their runner-up medals.
This time, the felling was much sweeter.
“The way we came out last year really left a bitter taste in our mouth, and coming in this year means everything,” senior running back Jamon Hogan said. “It means everything to me, and it means everything to the fans, it means everything to the seniors, it means everything to the team.”
Major and Hogan went over the 100-yard mark on the ground, but that was to be expected. What wasn’t expected was senior Jaedin Miller cracking the 100-yard plateau.
Miller led East with 18 carries for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
“It’s the most amazing feeling in the world,” Miller said. “I’ve never has a feeling like this. It was an amazing ride with this team, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my high school career.”
The running game wasn’t the only reason the Olympians won Friday night. Their defense came up huge on a few occasions, including a big stop on fourth-and-5 early in the second half when they were clinging to a 21-14 lead.
For senior center Cole McCarter, the state title is the culmination of seven years of work.
“It means so much to all of us,” McCarter said. “We worked so hard in the offseason to get back here. It’s the best feeling in the world to finally get the win. I’ve been coming to workouts since sixth grade, so it’s finally paying off.”
McCarter and senior guard Mark Sciutto shared tears and a hug as they waited for their championship medals.
Unlike last year, these tears were tears of joy.
“Just the redemption aspect of it, that we were able to come back this year,” Scuitto said. “People didn’t give us a chance of winning, but we proved them wrong. We came out here and played a great football game and won the state championship.”