Many have tried. Most have failed.
The 2012 Jeffersonville football team is the next in a long line of teams that believe it can dethrone Columbus East — the king of Hoosier Hills Conference football.
Class 4A No. 1 East has won eight consecutive Hoosier Hills Conference titles. The Olympians have won 40 straight HHC contests and 59 of their last 60. Only Bedford North Lawrence has beaten East — 33-30 on Oct. 13, 2006 — in league play in the last nine seasons.
So now it’s Jeff’s turn. The Red Devils are technically 5-2 (after having one win taken away by forfeit) but they are 6-1 on the field with six straight victories. A win over East, following by a victory at Jennings County in Week 9, would put the Red Devils (4-1 HHC) even with the Olympians (7-0, 5-0 HHC) for the HHC crown.
“They’re obviously the titan everyone’s been chasing for the last eight or nine years,” Jeff coach Lonnie Oldham said. “It’s really good for our kids to be in a situation like this — playing against the No. 1 team in 4A.”
The Red Devils have a high-flying offense and a stingy defense — and every reason to believe, as many others have, that they have what it takes to end East’s HHC winning streak.
“We’re definitely the underdogs,” Oldham said. “We don’t have much pressure on us. If we lose, everyone will say ‘I told you so.’ If we win, we’re going to shock the state of Indiana. Our kids believe we can win. But talking about it and doing it are two different things. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”
It was thought by many that the loss of All-America quarterback Gunner Kiel might mean the end of East’s dominance. However, junior Alex Cowan has stepped in and combined for 19 touchdowns. He’s thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and has rushed for another 509. Sophomore running back Markell Jones has 799 yards and nine touchdowns in five games.
East possesses more balance than it has in a few years.
“Obviously, [Jones is] a pretty good back, but it’s their quarterback that makes them go,” Oldham said. “He’s not Gunner Kiel, but he’s solid. He can throw and run the ball. When he throws the ball, he likes to roll out and give himself a run-pass read. He’s really good.”
Defensively, the Olympians haven’t given up more than a single touchdown in any game since a 60-14 win over Seymour on Aug. 31. They’re giving up just 13 points per game and only 8.4 in their last five.
“They play solid defense,” Oldham said. “They change things around and don’t sit in one package.”
if Jeff does fall short, it has a bigger picture in mind. In their final season in Class 5A before moving up to the newly-formed 6A, the Red Devils are hoping to win their fifth sectional championship in school history.
Jeff and Castle appear to be the favorites heading into the tournament.
“This is not the Super Bowl for us,” Oldham said of the Jeff-East clash. “This is a regular-season game with the conference on the line. We would love to win the game, we want to win the game. That’s how we’re approaching it.”
In the end, Oldham’s goal is simple.
“Whatever happens, we want to play hard and do what we need to do, but our main focus is the third week of October. That’s when the really important games begin,” Oldham said.
Olympians have 40-game HHC win streak
Many have tried. Most have failed.
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