Football opens up sectional play at Columbus East


photo by Gracie Marsh

Connor Delp runs past Pike High School’s Kristopher Harmon during the Oct. 4 Homecoming game.

Emma Matlock, Staff Writer

Tonight at 7 p.m., Center Grove will face off against Columbus East (7-2) on the road in the opening round of sectionals. After finishing the regular season 4-5, Center Grove will be looking to win its 9th straight sectional title.

“We’re looking to go 1-0 in the tournament, so we’re thinking about ourselves and trying to get better this week,” assistant coach Ryan Spoonmore said. “It’s just another game, and just another opportunity to play high school football.”

Center Grove and Columbus East did not play a common opponent this season. The last time the two teams met was in the opening round of 2010 sectionals when the Trojans fell 27-13. 

Sophomore Quarterback Tayven Jackson says the team is looking to keep their nerves low tonight and play as though it is a normal night out on the field.

“We take it as a regular game if we can. We come in and think oh, it’s the playoffs, if we lose we’re out,” Jackson said. “It’s just game-by-game, and we try to do the same thing every time and see everything we need to do to win the game.”

Center Grove and Columbus East were both ranked No. 13 in the last Coaches Poll of the season. The Olympians are armed with quarterback Cole Gilley, who has thrown for 1,577 yards this season, including 22 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Gilley’s favorite target is senior wide receiver Dalton Back, who averages 89 receiving yards per game, including 10 touchdowns.

“They have good size and great speed. Most of all they have a good record, and they know how to win,” Coach Eric Moore said. “When you know how to win, sometimes that’s more important than being good. You know how to win games.”

Despite the competition, sophomore running back Daniel Weems is hopeful that get an opening-round sectional victory.

“[A win would mean] a lot, especially since the way we started and how we progressed as a team this season,” Weems said. “Coach has been talking about this opportunity, living up to the opportunity that we have in front of us, so we just go out there and give it our best.”