Success breeds admiration. Repetitive success can breed contempt.
The Yankees are loved, and hated. So are the Cowboys and the Lakers.
The Columbus East football team is beginning to find out what it’s like in their world.
East might not be a De La Salle High School, but it certainly has been the Yankees, Cowboys and Lakers, all rolled into one, of the Hoosier Hills Conference in football.
The Olympians have won 46 consecutive conference games, and they are 66-1 in conference play since 2003, losing only a 33-30 decision to Bedford North Lawrence in 2006.
I covered De La Salle High School’s football team in Concord, Calif., several times from 1992 through 2004 when it ran off a 151-game winning streak, the longest in history. This was a Catholic school coached by Bob Ladouceur, a man of impeccable integrity. Even so, it would be fair to say some people downright hated De La Salle.
Ladouceur had found a formula for success, and most of it had to do with hard work. But word spread. The Spartans were cheaters. They recruited the best players away from other programs. They paid for players to enroll. They won because they had a distinct advantage.
Of course, they won because the players at De La Salle simply spent more hours in the weight room, more hours conditioning and more hours studying film than their opponents.
Did they have an advantage because of their reputation and because very good football players might move close to the school so they could be involved with the program? Sure. They earned that right.
At De La Salle, they circled the wagons and continued to take care of business.
Now take a look at East. Gaddis often says the school district has given him the necessary tools to produce a successful program. Certainly, that is true.
The Olympians train in a beautiful weight room. They football field is first class all the way.
But the heart and soul of the program is a coaching staff willing to work countless hours to make all those wins happen. And it takes a special kind of inspiration to get students to sacrifice all those other fun activities that teens do to become a football juggernaut.
Tonight at 7 p.m., East hosts a Jeffersonville team that wants nothing more than to knock the Olympians down a peg or two. I guarantee you that the only fans rooting for East will be the ones right here in Columbus. The rest of the Hoosier Hills Athletic Conference will be hoping the Red Devils can pull an upset. People like to see the mighty fall.
Lonnie Oldham took over at Jeffersonville last season. After a 5-5 year in 2011, he has the Red Devils ready to challenge for the HHC championship. Believe me, he wants a piece of what Gaddis has created. The Olympians might not be popular, but everyone wants to be them.
Will tonight be the night that East gets knocked off? I doubt it. Jeffersonville has a ton of talent and a program that is building. But these are, after all, the Yankees, or Olympians, and they play their best in the spotlight.
Like it or not, there will be one word that will best describe the Olympians after tonight’s game.
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.