Columbus North and Columbus East will both look to right the ship tonight after suffering disappointing losses last week.
Both football squads are 3-4 on the season. They hope to get back to .500 as they face off against conference foes, with the Bull Dogs hosting Bloomington North in Conference Indiana, while the Olympians host Jeffersonville in the Hoosier Hills Conference.
A big key that resulted in North’s 46-15 loss at Bloomington South last week was getting the necessary stops on defense.
“I felt like defensively at times, we had them right where we wanted them. We got them behind the chains in favorable situations, and they just converted. That is very deflating for a defense, so we’ve got to be better there,” North coach Logan Haston said. “It’s learning from those opportunities and learning how to get into a more favorable matchup, more favorable coverage or a blitz. It’s finding an answer to those things. We’ve got some things and some new ideas that will help that.”
East will look to be more consistent on offense after managing only eight first downs and 11 punts last week against Bloomington North.
“We’ve got to get more consistent in our execution. It seems like it’s not any one person, it’s someone different with every snap” East coach Eddie Vogel said. “Some of that is a credit to the teams that we’re playing. They’ve been pretty good defensively. The teams that we’ve played against are pretty good defensively, but we’ve got to be able to execute to be able to move the football. There is not a lot of margin for error for us. We’ve got to able to stay ahead of the chains and move the ball consistently. That’s our focus moving forward, is really not in what we’re doing, but more just executing what we do.”
The Bull Dogs were eliminated from winning a third straight conference title with last week’s loss. However, they have winnable games down the stretch to finish the regular season to help build the team morale and spirits back up as they gear up for the postseason later this month.
“That was the message in our team meeting. Every guy in our program from coaches, players, managers have the choice — they can either lock in or check out, and ultimately, that’s going to be their decision to make. We hope it’s the opportunity to lock in,” Haston said. “I think the biggest thing right now that is our biggest motivator is, we have senior night coming up, we want to send our seniors out the right way with their last guaranteed home game here. I think that’s what everything has turned to. Obviously, not being able to win conference is disappointing, but there’s still a lot to play for this year.”
Columbus East’s Chase Zapfe, right, tries to avoid a tackle by Bloomington North’s Cayden Riester during East’s homecoming game at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Ind., Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.
The Republic file photo
Meanwhile, the Olympians are still in the thick of the HCC title chase despite being upset by Floyd Central on Sept. 23. It’s a logjam at the top of the standings with three teams — East, Seymour and Bedford North Lawrence — at 4-1.
The Olympians still controls their own destiny to earn at least a share of the title by winning tonight and Oct. 14 at BNL. East can still capture the outright title if it wins the next two games, and Seymour loses to New Albany tonight.
“There’s a lot for us to play for,” Vogel said. “The guys know that we really kind of control our own destiny, and so the practices we have are not going to only be important for those conference games, but also one of our goals in still intact as everybody gets in the tournament and hope make a long run in the tournament. We may see Bloomington North again, or we may see Seymour or Bloomington South. Our guys have a lot to play for still. They came in Saturday and coached them up, and they understand what is at stake. I felt good Saturday leaving and felt good (Monday) after practice that they are ready to go.”
The tournament draw will take place beginning at 5 pm Sunday and will be broadcast on ihsaatv.org