Anyone wearing a Columbus East football jersey and athletic shoes was going to see action in Friday’s second-round Class 4A sectional game at Columbus East High School.
That much was apparent four minutes and 15 seconds into the contest.
It took that long for the Olympians (11-0) to secure a 20-0 lead on their way to a 48-6 victory against an overmatched Connersville squad.
East coach Bob Gaddis, saying before the game how much he respected the job done by coach Adam Kelly in turning around the Spartans’ program in his first year, played his back-ups almost the entire second half.
“Our kids all are part of our practice and we want to reward them,” Gaddis said.
If he wanted, Gaddis could have instructed his players to score 100. Instead, he graciously registered the win and rested his starters to next Friday’s sectional championship game against Franklin County at Columbus East High School (7 p.m. kickoff).
The Spartans (7-4) couldn’t do anything right after getting off the bus.\
On their first offensive play, tailback Blake Evans was crushed for no gain, and two incomplete passes followed. East’s Christian Wichman then blocked the Connersville punt, and Zach Day recovered at the Spartans’ 7.
It took the East offense one play to reach the end zone, as Markell Jones swept around the left side for the touchdown.
Olympians kicker Paul Baker then dribbled an on-sides kick that his team recovered literally unopposed by the Spartans. Three plays later, East quarterback Alex Cowan connected with wide receiver JT Voelker for a 30-yard touchdown. East led 13-0 when the extra-point attempt was mishandled.
Connersville tried three runs on its next possession, going for no gain, no gain and a loss of one. The ensuing punt set East up at its 44-yard line.
Cowan then followed a wall of blockers to a 56-yard touchdown run on which he wasn’t touched. Baker’s kick made it 20-0.
“We thought Connersville was the type of team that the longer they hung around, the tougher they might be,” Gaddis said. “So we wanted to hit them hard early and get after them. We wanted to come out with a lot of intensity.”
The Spartans had their one offensive highlight late in the first quarter when Evans ran 38 yards for a touchdown.
However, Cowan answered with a 65-yard touchdown run, Jones ran three yards for another score, and tight end Jared Whiteside caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to give East a 41-6 lead at the half.
It was fun for all, at least those in East uniforms, in the second half. The level of play for East, at least defensively, didn’t change at all. The Olympians didn’t allow a point in the second half.
Olympians sophomore defensive lineman Hunter Shehan had the highlight of his season when he picked up an Evans’ fumble and ran 65 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to complete the scoring.
Cowan finished with six rushes for 146 yards in one half of action. He also completed seven of 10 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Voelker caught four passes for 76 yards. Jones finished with 71 yards rushing in a half and also had a 50-yard rush called back.