The Columbus North-Columbus East high school football game scheduled for Aug. 26 will be shown nationally on ESPNU, one of the 24-hour sports channel’s family of networks, as part of the group’s second annual High School Football Kickoff, it was confirmed Monday.
The likelihood of the annual local rivalry game between the city’s two high school programs being shown to a national audience had been reported previously, but Monday’s announcement made it official.
East will be the host for the game, scheduled for the usual kickoff time of 7 p.m. Over a three-day period, between Aug. 26 and Aug. 28, ESPN will televise 13 high school games involving 26 teams from 12 states and the District of Columbia on ESPNU, ESPN3.com. ESPN2 and ESPN.
“It will be great,” said East coach Bob Gaddis, who as coach and athletic director at East was heavily involved in the plans to highlight the local game. “It’s going to be a pretty big deal. It will be good for our community and it will be good for Indiana football.”
North coach Tim Bless, said having a game on national TV is exciting for his team and he said it supports the notion that the quality of high school football in Indiana is as good as it gets anywhere in the country except for some hugely populated states.
“It’s on par with any state except California, Texas and Florida,” Bless said. “It’s just another feather in the cap for Columbus and what a football town Columbus is.”
The traditional early-season non-conference Columbus East-Columbus North football game is easily the best attended football game in town each season and with approximately 5,000 fans turning out it is usually the best-attended sporting event in the community.
This year North, of Conference Indiana, will compete in the IHSAA’s Class5A while the slightly smaller East of the Hoosier Hills Conference will compete in Class 4A. North won the annual game last year in a 7-4 season, but East finished 9-2. Regardless of how teams fare in their respective leagues, the game is always fiercely contested.
“We don’t have to worry about them (the players) getting motivated,” Gaddis said of North-East week.
In addition to the East-North game on Friday night, the TV network is scheduled to show another Indiana game on Saturday afternoon, also on ESPNU, between Warren Central and Cathedral.
Games involving teams from Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Alabama, California, Texas, and Mississippi, among others, will also be shown between Friday and Sunday over the last weekend in the month.
“Hopefully, on a national stage, they (fans) will see some great football players from the Hoosier state,” Bless said.