State championships are a crowning achievement for a high school football program.
With so many exceptional teams in the state, and so many tournament games a team must win in order to earn a chance at the IHSAA title, just being good isn’t good enough.
For all but the state’s largest schools, which have one fewer game, a state championship means running the table on six consecutive weekends — with little or no chance for error.
That requires not only great athletes but exceptional teamwork and trust, outstanding coaching and tremendous support in the community — from fellow students, parents and other family members, and local businesses who show their support with messages on signs, banners and car windows, enthusiastic voices and a collective spirit.
The “sea of orange” supported the Columbus East Olympians all year long through a phenomenal 14-1 season. An estimated 5,000 fans followed them into the Lucas Oil Stadium stands last Friday for the Class 5A championship game, a 42-28 win against a tough and resilient Kokomo Wildkats team. A stunning and loyal 400 of them stayed up past midnight to welcome the team home during a joyous postgame rally at the high school.
The degree of excellence demonstrated by the Columbus East program is evident in three trips to the state football finals in five years, two of them victories, and three state football championships in all — 1979, 2013 and 2017.
But even more important than achieving a championship was the way Columbus East did it — with class. In that respect, victory No. 186 in the coach Bob Gaddis era at Columbus East was the same as the 185 previous victories.
Congratulations, Olympians, on a tremendous achievement done exactly the right way. When sizing up success, it doesn’t get any better than that.
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