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Editorial: Columbus brings home champion, memories

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The remarkable success of the Columbus East Olympians football team was not written entirely over the past season.

It is a process that has been developed over a period of several years and drafted by a small army of coaches, players and supporters.

It is perhaps best symbolized by a word that commonly is used to describe the unparalleled success that some teams — professional, college and high school — register over a period of several years.

East has a program.

Developing a program is seldom achieved in a single season. It is amassed over several years through disciplined approaches that are passed on to succeeding teams.

Before this past weekend, an East team’s last appearance in a state championship game was in 1979, when a team coached by John Stafford brought home the school’s first title.

On Saturday, coach Bob Gaddis’ undefeated 2013 Olympians brought home another, defeating Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 28-27.

While 34 years is a long time between titles, East teams have consistently posted strong records, especially in most of the 13 seasons with Gaddis at the helm.

That winning formula has been critical, not just on the field but in instilling in younger players not yet at the high school level the desire to be a part of the Olympian team.

It is manifest in other ways shown clearly during the past season.

The team enjoyed unqualified support of its student body and football fans throughout the city.

In the days leading up to Saturday’s championship game, signs of support were displayed on store fronts, vehicles and front yard signs.

It was a spirit that echoed back to that first championship season of 1979 and even beyond that to the 1964 Columbus High School basketball season when the undefeated Bull Dog team came so close to a clean sweep of the regular season and IHSAA tournament.

It is a success in which the coaches and players can take pride, but it is one that should be shared with many others — and Saturday night it was.

At least 3,000 Columbus fans followed the Olympians to Lucas Oil Stadium, host of the six-class championship football games.

Tournament officials said East’s followers easily formed the biggest cheering section of any of the 12 participating Indiana high schools.

The Columbus East players and coaches brought home the championship trophy. But the local fans — 900 strong at a community rally after the game — brought home fantastic memories that will last just as long.

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