Bob Gaddis broached the subject with his team this week: 62-7.
That was the score of last year’s semi-state battle between Cathedral and Columbus East. The Irish won that game, then routed South Bend Washington 42-7 the following week to repeat as Class 4A state champions and claim their ninth state title overall.
The 4A No. 1 Olympians will try to avoid a repeat of what happened last year when they host 4A No. 7 Cathedral at 8 p.m. tonight in another semi-state contest. East will be trying to get back to the state finals for the first time since 1979.
“We’ve talked some about what happened last year,” Gaddis said. “What we’ve talked about is that they’re the defending state champions, and they’re a great football team. They’re big, fast and strong, and we’re going to have to play great football to try to match up with them. We’re fortunate we have them at home, and our kids are going to have to come out and play their hearts out.”
Sophomore Markell Jones ran for 217 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday’s 35-21 regional win at Evansville Reitz. Jones ran for 1,515 yards and 22 scores this season.
But if Cathedral (8-5) stacks the box to try to stop the Olympians’ vaunted running game, East (13-0) and junior quarterback Alex Cowan will need a big day throwing the ball. Cowan passed for 1,053 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 1,114 yards and 18 scores.
“They’re really big up front,” Cathedral coach Rick Streiff said. “They have great size, and they run a great zone scheme that opens holes up for a tremendous running back. They do a nice job of running the football.
“East historically has been a passing team, but coach Gaddis has the running game going,” he said. “They have a good quarterback who can run and is an adequate passer. Their running game does make me nervous.”
Defensively, the Olympians won’t have to worry about Luke Cureton, who gouged them for 202 yards and three touchdowns on only six carries last season. Cureton injured his collarbone early in the season and is out for the year.
The Irish, however, do still have senior tailback Gino Gillum, who ran for 85 yards and three scores in last year’s meeting. Cathedral put up 427 rushing yards in that game.
This year’s East defense has been statistically better than last year’s.
“I think they run well,” Streiff said.
“I think they get to the ball well. They play very, very well as a team, they do a very good job of filling the gaps and getting to the football. You just don’t see them make mistakes.”
The Olympians will have to get off to a better start than they did against the Irish last year, when they fell behind 21-0 early in the second quarter.
Streiff said avoiding turnovers and penalties will be the key.
“You have to take care of the football,” Streiff said.
“You have to eliminate penalties. You just can’t make mental mistakes at this time of season, or those teams will make you pay for it.”
Both teams have blitzed through four playoff opponents by double-digit margins.
East has won its tournament games by an average of 24.3 points, while Cathedral has won by an average margin of 38.3.
“When they’ve played Indiana public schools in the tournament, they’ve dominated,” Gaddis said.
“Our opportunity is that it’s now our turn to get a shot at them. I’m sure our kids are excited at getting a shot at them.”
Opponent Result Score
Ben Davis L 24-21
Warren Central W 14-7
Cincinnati St. Xavier L 33-27
Chatard L 21-7
Fort Wayne Dwenger W 42-7
Louisville Trinity L 24-16
Sacred Heart-Griffin (Ill.) W 40-17
Tech W 42-14
Cincinnati Moeller L 48-13
Northview (sectional) W 62-0
Lebanon (sectional) W 49-19
Roncalli (sectional) W 34-7
Mt. Vernon (regional) W 41-7
Columbus East (13-0)
Opponent Result Score
Bloomington North W 31-28
Columbus North W 23-20
Seymour W 60-14
Jennings County W 74-7
New Albany W 31-7
Floyd Central W 31-7
Madison W 54-8
Jeffersonville W 41-6
Bedford North Lawrence W 35-31
East Central (sectional) W 26-7
Connersville (sectional) W 48-6
Franklin County (sectional) W 36-14
Evansville Reitz (regional) W 35-21
Columbus East vs. Cathedral
Time: 8 p.m. today
Place: Columbus East High School
Tickets: $8, on sale today during school hours and at the game