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Olympian backers hope squad can overcome Cathedral

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Three times in the past six years, Columbus East has been soundly eliminated from the state high school football tournament in the Class 4A semi-state round.

And each time, it has been at the hands of Indianapolis Cathedral, which has won four state titles during that time.

This year, supporters of No. 1 East (13-0) are looking for any edge they can muster on the eve of Friday’s return contest with No. 7 Cathedral (8-5).

That includes fans throwing up their arms, screaming at the tops of their lungs, pounding their chests ... anything that could disrupt the defending Class 4A champion that gave the Olympians a 62-7 thumping a year ago.

If you go

What: Columbus East High School’s semi-state football game against Indianapolis Cathedral, the defending 4A state champion

When: 8 p.m. Friday, although fans are advised to arrive early

Where: Columbus East High School football field at Clifty Park, across from the high school at 230 |S. Marr Road

Tickets: Available in advance 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today at the East High School guidance office. Cost is $8 per ticket. Tickets also will be available at the game Friday.

On the radio: WCSI 1010 and Q-MIX 107.3 will broadcast the game live. The game will not be shown on television.

“We’d like to get the whole community involved,” said Carol Geraghty, president of the Quarterback Club team boosters. “Put up signs. Pull out the orange. Get behind our team.”

Although game time is 8 p.m., school officials are advising fans to arrive at least an hour early because of the large crowd that’s expected. Bob Gaddis, East head football coach and athletic director, said the stadium has about 2,500 bleacher seats for fans. In big games in the past, however, crowds of 8,000 or more have attended — with most of them standing.

Kathy Foreman, secretary in the athletics office, said additional bleachers would likely be assembled at both end zones for extra seating Friday. She added that no ticket-buyers will be turned away.

Meanwhile, efforts to fuel community spirit and give an emotional boost to the Olympian football team are in full swing inside and outside the building.

Indoors, high school cheerleaders were writing messages on poster boards and displaying them up and down hallways.

Outdoors, members of the Quarterback Club on Wednesday decorated fencing that surrounds the football field. That meant writing phrases such as “Compete and Defeat” using foam cups that boosters stuck through the fence’s cross wires.

A box with 1,000 cups sat behind club members Tina Stephens and Sandy Galarno about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. And the boosters still weren’t certain that number of cups would be enough.

The boosters were planning to join with East cheerleaders to decorate both sides of Marr Road with small signs, each with the name and jersey number of an East player.

“We want the team to feel the community support,” Geraghty said.

As it does for other big games during the football season, East’s cheerleading team will combine its varsity, junior varsity and freshmen members Friday to create one squad about 30 members strong, cheerleading coach Jenny Robertson said.

Robertson said the cheerleaders would wear their uniforms during the school day Friday as another means of generating some extra school spirit, which it has done often in the past.

Junior Vanessa Moir, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, said she can tell that their efforts are paying off. She said students are beginning to get excited and that a buzz has been building throughout the school.

“We’re passing out flyers to encourage everyone to wear orange,” Moir said.

Even city rival Columbus North is getting behind the Olympians.

Amy Tracy, a member of the Quarterback Club, said North High School has been writing messages on its Facebook social media website that pledge its support of an East team that represents the same city as the North Bull Dogs.

“Whether you bleed orange or blue, we hope everyone comes out Friday,” Tracy said.

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