On a scorching hot day at Stafford Field at Columbus East High School, the Olympians had one common chant throughout their football practice.
“It’s North week! It’s North week! Let’s go, it’s North week!”
Two schools, one city, and one big football contest in the Buffalo Wild Wings Game of the Week on Friday night, when Columbus East (1-0) hosts crosstown-rival Columbus North (0-1) in a game that all the players have circled on their calendars. It’s a contest that pits neighbor versus neighbor, with many of these players having friends and comrades on the opposite side of the ball, with the last two games being split between the schools by one possession (23-20 East in 2012, 45-40 North in 2011).
“There has been a lot of history behind a lot of really close games,” said East Senior Brock Patterson. “It has never been a really big blowout on either side of the ball. I would say with how hard the teams play, and with the success that has come out of both of our teams, it definitely drives us rivalry further than what it has been, or what it is in other rivalries around the state.”
On Friday night East will play the host to a game that plans to have thousands in attendance, and the fans rooting on the Olympians will be seeing a squad that is respected well across Indiana. In this week’s coaches’ and AP polls Columbus East is ranked number-one, thanks to a 49-21 victory to kick-off the season over Bloomington North. In the game Junior Markell Jones rushed for 253 yards and five touchdowns.
“We took a lot away from it,” said East Head Coach Bob Gaddis. “When we execute just like everybody, we are pretty good. We are able to run the ball a little bit, but we have a lot of things to work on. We would like to be more consistent in the passing game and a lot more consistent defensively, but all in all we came out healthy and had a lot of positives.”
Both Gaddis and his quarterback in Senior Alex Cowan gave major props to the team’s offensive line as why the team was able to execute so well last Friday, and they know overall the team as a whole will have to work just as hard for a victory on Friday night against a hungry-north squad.
“They are a good team,” said Cowan. “They are always a good team and come to play. They are physical, are fast, and they just come to play us and we come to play them. It’s just a great time.”
Just about five-minutes down the road at Columbus North High School, the Bulldogs (0-1) were just as excited in their preparations for Friday night’s contest as the Olympians. The difference however, is that the Bulldogs enter into Friday with a little something more to play for, as they look for their first victory after dropping last week’s season-opener to Plainfield 34-32.
The Bulldogs finished with a total of 502 yards of total offense in the contest, but turnovers plagued Columbus North ultimately in the game, but that’s something the team feels as if they can control and improve on moving forward.
“We are kind of an inexperienced team,” said Head Coach Tim Bless. “But we are going to grow and get better with every week, and we certainly learned a lot of lessons last Friday night. We feel like we can be a better team this Friday than we were last Friday.”
Bulldogs quarterback Michael Vogel finished with a total of 333 yards and four touchdowns between rushing and passing, and Columbus North knows they are going to have to play just well offensively, and step up their game defensively to be able to compete against East on Friday night.
With city bragging rights on the line though, the Bulldogs are ready for the challenge.
“A victory against East would be huge because it means so much to a Columbus North football player to beat your crosstown-rival. The same with East, the North-East game is huge for them.”