Football season is back.
Nothing could dampen the spirits of Columbus East High School fans Friday night, even with the temperature hovering in the 90s and high humidity — it was the beginning of the campaign to defend the team’s 2013 state title.
Nearly 60 miles northwest of Columbus, North High School fans prepared to root for their team on the road, traveling to Plainfield High School.
For the first time, the Olympian Quarterback Club, the football team’s boosters, decided to bring a party to the game, putting up a tent packed with food and yard games next to Stafford Field.
Lisa McCarter, booster club president, said Forman Investment Services and Old National Bank are sponsoring the club. The sponsorships allowed club members to create a designated place to share stories and celebrate with parents and friends while enjoying pork barbecue sandwiches.
McCarter said Friday night’s gathering for the first game of the season would be fun, especially since there is much to celebrate from the team’s 2013 “dream” season.
And McCarter and her son, Columbus East starting quarterback K.J. McCarter, are looking forward to this year.
“The feeling here is we had an awesome year last year, but now we’re 0-0 again,” she said.
The boosters have tailgated in the past but only allowed players’ families at the event. McCarter said this year, fans and friends can join the boosters for a $20 fee that pays for the entire football season.
The fee will go towards purchasing new equipment for the football team. Last year, the boosters bought a seven-man tackling sled. This year, they want to raise about $30,000 to buy the team new uniforms.
North vs. east
Starting Monday, The Republic will have daily preview coverage of Rivalry Week between Columbus North and Columbus East. It all leads up to the annual rivalry game.
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Columbus North
Within minutes after the tailgating tent opened at 6:30 p.m., dozens of fans crowded in, preparing to cheer on the Olympians. Most were dressed in shorts and T-shirts to beat the heat and humidity.
David and Carol Geraghty were two parents without a player on the field, but they wanted to get pumped up for the return of Columbus East football.
Their son, Kian Geraghty, played for the team last year and attends the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“You get all of your orange on. You get dressed appropriately with orange shirts, orange hats, whatever,” she said. “Coming to the tailgate party is the best because then you’re with other families getting hyped up.”
Geraghty said once the season is over, all of the team sleepovers, meals and trips suddenly stop — not just for the players, but for the parents.
Parents and fans go through somewhat of a football withdrawal, and Friday night’s kickoff couldn’t have come soon enough, especially coming off of a championship season, she said.
“I think there’s extra excitement from people who weren’t excited before,” she said, adding that the family is part of a group that celebrates East football every Friday night all season long.
“We’re a football town, and we love our teams, winning or losing,” she said.
On the road, nearly 100 of the Columbus North Bull Dog faithful arrived at Plainfield and cheered as North won the coin toss but deferred to receive the ball in the second half.
Most of the fans arrived fairly close to the 7 p.m. game time, including the Columbus North cheerleading squad.
An accident in the construction zone at I-65 at I-465 may have slowed down some of the fans who were traveling to Plainfield for the game.
Grant Byers, whose brother Jonathan is a senior on the Bull Dogs squad, said typically, a large number of students follow the team to away games and he was expecting more to arrive as the game got underway.
Sophomore Ethan Mitchell already was in the stands and said he wanted to see what North would accomplish the first game of the season.
“I just like seeing my friends play, and I like to support them,” said sophomore Zach Green, as he prepared to watch the game.
The return of football also means the return of music-filled halftime shows.
North will debut its show next Friday at the North and East showdown on the Bull Dogs’ home field. The Sound of North Marching Band’s show this year is “Hypnotic.”
At home on Friday night, the Olympian Spirit Marching Band boosters had their own tailgate party for the band and parents to pump up the excitement for the marching season.
East is debuting “Up In The Air” featuring the music of Pat Metheny for this marching season.
“I think they are excited,” said Jennifer Villiger, East band booster president.
“They loved being at Lucas Oil Stadium for the game (in 2013), and I think a lot of them are excited for football.”
They’re here to cheer
Columbus North High School varsity cheerleader squad: Mendan Bobb, Mackenzie Bowers, Courtney Carr, Katlyn Case, Kristen Dager, Lexi Dykes, Emily Jones, Taylor Kuhfahl, Emma McAlister, Emily Scholar, Danielle Sharp, Taylor Sprong, Madison Stanton, Sidney Wilcoxon, Claire Wilson. Coach: Sarah Frasier
Columbus East High School varsity cheerleader squad: Emily Clancy, Reagan Leffler, Chaleece Lackron, Katie Martin, Hannah Maze, Melissa Denney, Morgan Duke, Katie Emmert, Shelby Gooldy, Hannah Gregor, Beth Perry, Kelsey Smith, Bailey Schroeder, Lydia Doughty. Coach: Jennie Robertson
Game time tunes
The Olympian Spirit Marching Band of Columbus East High School
2014 marching band show: “Up In The Air” featuring the music of Pat Metheny
Band director: David Rodgers
Assistant band director: Tim Brookshire
Guard director: Mistie Bulthuis
Drum major: Junior Clayton Kroeger
Guard captain: Senior Hannah Perry
Assistant guard captain: Sophomore Haley Hazard
The Sound of North Marching Band of Columbus North High School
2014 marching band show: “Hypnotic”
Band director: Bill Stultz
Assistant band director: Keith Burton
Color guard caption head: Charles Williams
Drum majors: Senior Jacob Bricker, senior David Rich and junior Devan Rhoades