Blessed with size, Josh Luedeke and Ashton Hartwell were starting offensive tackles for Columbus East last football season.
Luedeke and Hartwell also possess a little bit of quickness, and that helped ease first-year Olympians head coach Eddie Vogel’s decision to move them inside to guard this year. The seniors have led an offensive line that has helped open holes for running backs and protect quarterback Ethan Duncan.
“Traditionally in our zone offense, those guards have to cut off the back side, so those are pretty important positions, and then we wanted to kind of expand our offense a little bit and do a little more gap scheme stuff,” Vogel said. “So having guys that could move and do things like that, that went into the decision. Both of those guys are really good players for us and have been for a long time, so that was just kind of natural that those two guys moved there.”
Both have been honored by the team for their performance this fall. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Luedeke has been East’s overall Player of the Week once and Offensive Player of the Week another time.
“There’s been a little bit of an adjustment moving from tackle to guard, but I feel like I’m more of a guard with my body,” Luedeke said. “I put on a little bit of weight, but a lot of it was muscle, too. After the football season, I want to lose weight and get in better shape for baseball and just be an overall better athlete.”
The 6-3, 255-pound Hartwell also has been named the Olympians’ Offensive Player of the Week earlier this season.
“I feel like tackle to guard is easier and harder at the same time,” Hartwell said. “The (defensive linemen) are bigger, but they’re not as quick as when I was at tackle.”
Both Luedeke and Hartwell are two-sport athletes. Hartwell has been East’s heavyweight wrestler since his freshman year.
Luedeke earned a starting spot on the Olympians’ baseball team this spring and was one of the team’s top hitters until partially tearing his PCL diving back into second base on a fly ball. He rehabbed at Athletico over summer and now wears knee brace.
Luedeke, who recently set a personal record of 500 pounds in the squad, is one of two permanent team captains, along with senior defensive back Rocco Duffy.
“(Luedeke has) provided a lot of leadership by example, and Ashton is more of a vocal guy and has done a really nice job for us, as well,” Vogel said. “So those guys have really led our offensive line, and also our football team.”
Both Luedeke and Hartwell are considering playing football at the collegiate level. Luedeke wants to study something in the agriculture field.
“I’ve thought about it,” Luedeke said. “I want to get through this season first and then look at all my options about where I want to go to school and then see if they have football.”
Hartwell is thinking of majoring in engineering and is considering Indiana University, Ball State and Purdue. He might try to walk on at one of those schools.
But the current goal is to win the last two regular season games and get some momentum going into the sectional. East is 2-5 going into Friday’s game at Jeffersonville.
“I’m trying to get out of this year with a winning record,” Hartwell said. “So I know for sure we have to win the next four games if we want a winning record. But really, my biggest goal would be to make it out of regional. I think that’s possible if we get the whole team to click together.”
“I feel like we’ve progressed pretty good,” he added. “We’re a younger team, so momentum is a big part of it. I think it can get out of our own heads, we should be able to go pretty far in the tournament.”
“I feel like if we come out and are prepared, we can give any team a run for its money,” Luedeke said. “We just have to put in the work every week and then come focused.”