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Columbus East football coach Bob Gaddis was excited after his team’s 48-20 victory over New Albany on Friday, which might have bucked conventional wisdom.
In some ways, it would have made sense if Gaddis was a bit annoyed. His squad made some mistakes on defense that turned into touchdowns for the Bulldogs, and the Olympians’ offense looked sluggish at times.
Gaddis didn’t dwell on the few missteps. Instead, he talked about how his team played its most emotional game of the season and was complimentary about the Olympians’ overall effort.
It was a great message from a coach who calculates every step along the way. Gaddis was telling his No. 1-ranked Class 4A players that it’s OK if they aren’t perfect.
Here’s a look at who’s next up for the undefeated Olympians:
Friday: Floyd Central
Oct. 4: At Madison
Oct. 11: At Jeffersonville
Oct. 18: Bedford North Lawrence
Sure, there are times to nitpick when the goal is a state championship. We’ve all heard about the coach who never lets his players be satisfied. But doesn’t it make you sick to hear a coach talk about his team’s poor attention to detail because they went offside three times in a 58-0 win?
A team trying to be perfect can collapse under the weight of that heavy load. Perhaps that is why Gaddis doesn’t mind taking a little of that weight off at times.
The New Albany game was exactly what the football doctor ordered. First, it gave East a solid opponent so that the starters weren’t reading magazines in the third quarter.
Next, it showed that
East has some problems to solve before it gets into the tournament.
Gaddis gave his players a pat on the back Friday, and I’m sure the learning tool portion of the game will be discussed behind the scenes this week.
The Bulldogs had two players, tailback Tuwan Payton and quarterback Zach Donan, who had exceptional quickness. At times, they made the Olympians look slow on defense.
Payton is the kind of player who can make any defender in the state look slow, so he probably should get an “atta-boy” for his 70-yard touchdown run. Great players are going to make great plays.
Even so, allowing Payton to rush for 164 yards when you have the superior linemen is not such a good thing. The Olympians also were fortunate that Donan didn’t run more because they always seemed to be a step behind him.
Considering New Albany didn’t have much of a passing game, the Olympians could have done a better job stuffing that Bulldogs’ running game. Fortunately, they did just that after New Albany drew to within 21-14 in the third quarter.
But when East faces those quality teams in the tournament, it won’t be OK to fix stuff in the third quarter. The game could be over at that point.
Also on Friday, Cowan was thrown for a loss, on a running play, six times. Two other times he gained only one yard.
That means that New Albany got a lot of penetration into the running lanes. Sure, East scored 48 points. But something was definitely off in that running attack.
East has a quality kicker in Paul Baker, so it has got to be disturbing that the Olympians don’t look all that automatic on extra points. East has missed five extra points this season and had one on Friday bounce off a player’s helmet and still go through. One of those seemingly unimportant kicks could mean the difference in winning a state title.
Yes, New Albany was proof that East still has a lot of work to do. Gaddis, of course, knew that going into the game. And now his very talented players, in case they needed a reminder, know as well.
Now that’s something to get excited about.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 379-5632.
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