EVANSVILLE — Columbus East junior John Busack, primarily known as the Olympians’ talented starting middle linebacker, had carried the ball as a running back only one time all season going into the Class 4A Regional championship game on Saturday at Evansville Reitz.
But while Busack’s contributions through the first 12 games of the season came primarily on defense, he was used more extensively in the Olympians’ Power-I, short-yardage rushing attack Saturday.
Running behind Brock Patterson, whose primary job is defensive end but who also played a lead back in the Power I, Busack responded with 38 yards on eight carries in East’s 35-21 win.
“We went to the Power-I this week, and those guys (Busack and Patterson) brought it pretty well in there,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “John had some big carries for us.
“We’ve practiced that all year, and we just thought with the design of their defense that we could run the ball right at them instead of running the ball off-tackle,” he said. “He did a nice job, and the offensive line did a great job.”
Two of Busack’s runs were fourth-down pick-ups. The first came in the first quarter when, trailing 7-0, he ran for five yards on fourth-and-inches from the Reitz 7. On the next play, Markell Jones ran two yards for the first of his five touchdowns.
Busack had another big run early in the fourth quarter. Clinging to a 21-14 lead, the Olympians faced a fourth-and-2 at the Reitz 39. Busack went for seven yards and a first down. Later in the drive, his 4-yard run on first-and-goal from the 7 set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Jones.
“(Gaddis) told us to be ready for Power-I,” Busack said. “He didn’t necessarily say what play. He just said ‘Be ready for Power-I, and you have to be ready to make plays all the time.’
“I like getting the ball,” he said. “I’m going to try to run my hardest and get the first down, and the offensive line did a great job.”