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I was having a conversation with a local resident, and he asked me the question that I am sure many people are wondering.
“Do you think Columbus East will beat Chatard in the semi-state playoff game?”
When you aren’t walking around in East coach Bob Gaddis’ shoes, I guess that is a legitimate question.
Bishop Chatard is the perennial power that got bumped up to Class 4A this season. East is ... well ... East.
On the other hand, think of the pressure that mounts at East when the team is perceived to have a bye through the first 13 games of the season.
We know, or we should know, that the Olympians have quite a few challenges to overcome before that potential showdown with Chatard, which was ranked No. 1 in the opening coaches’ poll. East was ranked No. 2.
Successful programs often raise their own bar so high that fans won’t accept anything other than perfection.
Since the 2006 season, when Hoosier Hills opponent Bedford North Lawrence handed East a 33-30 loss, the Olympians have lost three regular-season football games, all to Columbus North.
I guess we can understand why people might think victories before playoff time are a given.
If you talk to any football coach, though, you would understand that nothing is farther from the truth. I am sure that is a lesson taught by Gaddis endlessly.
As soon as his players start believing they are bulletproof, the wheels are going to come off.
We should all tip our hats to Gaddis and his coaching staff for not letting that happen. That can be as difficult as coaching the X’s and O’s.
If you spent time watching East practice, you would see that Gaddis challenges his players on a daily basis. The task never is winning on Friday, or two weeks down the road, or a month. It’s all about making the current practice the very best possible.
The Olympians are force-fed a steady diet of “today.” In East’s system, the victory might be perfect execution of that next play, or running the fastest set of wind sprints ever or making all the field goals.
The actual wins are a by-product of the system.
As fans, and spectators, we should all keep in mind that each victory, whether expected or not, is worthy of appreciation. East has been working on a level playing field with its opponents, and it simply has done a better job for a long, long time. Let’s not penalize the hardest-working group of players because few teams can challenge their dedication.
Sure, I see this season stacking up much like East’s previous five, or 10. But I do know that other Hoosier Hills Conference teams are finding better ways to tap their resources and to ultimately rise to East’s level.
I also understand that East is respected, and disliked, for its years of success. Everyone wants to beat the Olympians. Everyone.
With that in mind, there is only one thing to do if you are an East fan.
Enjoy each step.
Use the players’ mindset. If they take care of business, the Chatard game will arrive soon enough.
Jay Heater is the Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.
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