Seventy players dot the football roster at Columbus East, while 66 are listed on the Columbus North roster.
But when the teams square off on Friday night at North’s Max Andress Stadium, only four from each school will head to midfield to shake hands and meet with officials prior to kickoff.
Those captains are charged with leading their respective teams on and off the field.
“When you get picked to be a captain, you want to go above and beyond what you’re usually doing,” North safety Riley Ables said. “You want to try to get the best out of your teammates and get the best out of yourself.”
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Ables is one of three Bull Dog seniors who are permanent captains. A fourth is picked each Monday by coach Tim Bless and his staff, and that player serves as captain for that week.
North’s permanent captains are Ables, offensive tackle Noah Algee and quarterback Trenton Kelley. Center Konner Stahl was the rotating captain for last week’s season opener against Franklin.
“Our responsibilities are to keep the team in check, get them hyped up to do what they’re supposed to be doing, and at the end of the day, it’s just to be a better teammate and to be a good leader for them,” Algee said.
The Olympians have four permanent senior captains in Guard Jacob Bolte, wide receiver Cody Horner, linebacker Nash Murphy and safety Jonah Wichman.
Those four were informed by coach Bob Gaddis and his staff at practice on Thursday. They began serving at Friday’s season opener against Whiteland.
“It really means a lot because you know that your guys voted for you to be captain,” Wichman said. “It feels good because I know I have respect from the team. I have to do everything right and show (the younger players) how we do things at East.”
The way the Olympians and Bull Dogs pick their football captains is somewhat similar.
Players who are interested in becoming a captain at East fill out an application. Those players then have to arrange an interview with Gaddis.
Gaddis and his staff will decide if a player gets put on a ballot. The ballots are given to the entire team, and the top four vote-getters are selected.
“A lot of it has to do with the leadership,” Gaddis said. “We want them to be in good standing academically. They have to then comment on if they are in another sport. That doesn’t have anything to do with it, but if there is an offseason workout going on, they are expected to participate. We do some things in the offseason that take some commitment, and we want to make sure they are committed to the program so really the criteria is the dedication and accountability.”
At North, Bless has all of his incoming seniors over to his house at the beginning of the summer, and they go through a leadership development packet that he’s assembled over the years.
Bless then takes an article on a leadership topic that he’s read and has prospective captains read it and write a one-to-two-page summary. In that summary, they are expected to express why they think they would be a good captain.
“Every application that I read, I generally was impressed with, and I told the whole team that,” Bless said. “I said, ‘Now, regardless of who we end up with, these are young men whose hearts are in the right place.’”
About 10 seniors applied to be captains for the Bull Dogs this year, and those names were put on a ballot and given to all the players. The top three vote-getters were named captains.
Bless stressed to all the applicants that the ones who weren’t selected weren’t supposed to stop leading. It just meant that the three or four selections were to step up even more.
“Keeping it simply, I tell our captains their primary role is, they’re the conduit between the coaching staff and the team,” Bless said. “They’re the coaches when the coaches aren’t around via the locker room and in communication. If there is something that the coaching staff needs to know, good or bad or whatever, it’s their job to communicate that with me and vise versa, so that (the team is) not always hearing my voice, they’re hearing from our captains, as well.”
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Columbus East and Columbus North will face off in six of the eight fall sports this week. Here is the schedule:
Tuesday: Boys tennis at East, 4:15 p.m.
Tuesday: Boys and girls cross-country at Ceraland, 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Girls soccer at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex, 6 p.m. JV and 7:45 p.m. varsity
Thursday: Boys soccer at Richard Wigh Soccer Complex, 6 p.m. JV and 7:45 p.m. varsity
Friday: Football at North, 7 p.m.