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Sophomore set to snap Olympians into motion

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Just a sophomore, Columbus East starting center Harry Crider goes about his business with a simple theme.

“I try not to get in the way,” Crider said on Monday after a practice session.

Perhaps that’s not a good theme for an offensive lineman, who is expected to “get in the way.”

Crider wasn’t talking about defenders, though. He was just saying that he doesn’t mind letting the upperclassmen run the show.

So what is his main emphasis?

“I do what I am supposed to do,” he said.

Doing what he is supposed to do as a member of the Columbus East football team, and especially as a starter, can be overwhelming. That counts double for a sophomore starter.

East coach Bob Gaddis expects his players to be dedicated to both the program and their academics. When Gaddis talks to his players about training like a champion, he means both on and off the field.

Crider, though, has handled his duties flawlessly, according to Gaddis, as he learns from the seniors. He is OK being a role player, and he knows that the Olympians have a senior class that has earned the right to be the focal point of the team.

But whether he wants the attention or not, it’s going to be hard to remain in the background when he is blocking in front of Olympians’ star tailback Markell Jones.

Jones rushed for 2,653 yards in 2013 behind one of the best offensive lines in Olympians history. This season, Crider is part of a rebuilt offensive line.

Crider doesn’t want to be responsible for getting the golden goose crushed.

“That drives you,” said Crider, who is 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. “You don’t want to do anything to get a play messed up.”

Crider couldn’t have messed up much in his first start during East’s 42-19 victory over Bloomington North last Friday and Saturday (after a lightning delay). Jones rushed for 296 yards.

“It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced,” Crider said. “I am trying to make a block, and (Jones) is already 10 to 15 yards down the field.”

For a first effort as a unit, Crider said he thought East’s line showed strength.

“I thought we played together well,” he said. “It seemed natural. And I don’t think I made any mistakes.”

Crider was projected as a tight end or linebacker when he came into the program as a freshman. However, last season’s center Jared Whiteside was lost to graduation.

Whiteside was a converted tight end who played a key role in East’s 4A state championship as a center. When the Olympians began summer drills, Gaddis looked around for a candidate to take over one of the crucial spots on either side of the ball.

“Harry is a good athlete, and he doesn’t say a whole lot,” Gaddis said. “Since we moved him (to center), he has done a good job. I thought he played really well against Bloomington North.”

Crider, who also plays basketball at East, looks more like a tight end than a center. He has a lean body that appears more suited to dunking a basketball than pushing aside a nose tackle.

Does Crider think center is a good fit for him?

“Looks like it could be,” he said. “Coming into the season, I wasn’t so sure. But the older guys here have helped me, and I am working on getting bigger and stronger.”

He was most worried about making snaps in the shotgun.

“At the beginning, it was iffy,” he said. “But it’s second nature now. Things are going better than I would have thought.”

He hopes that continues on Friday when the Olympians play their rivalry game at Columbus North.

East is coming off a game where it could run at will against Bloomington North, but the Bull Dogs offer another test.

“Columbus North has some big defensive linemen,” Crider said.”But I think we faced some pretty big defensive linemen last week. We mostly just need to keep communicating. I feel we can do it.”

If it all goes well, Crider is OK with letting someone else take a bow.

“You don’t get a lot of recognition (as an offensive lineman),” he said. “But you want to get everything right because when you do get called out, it’s because something is wrong.”

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