Game of the Week: Columbus East at Floyd Central

Highlanders welcome 'great test' vs. Olympians

The majority of this year’s Floyd Central football team was likely still in diapers the last time the Highlanders topped Hoosier Hills Conference power Columbus East.

Floyd Central’s last win against the Olympians came in 2003 by way of a 24-13 triumph on the road. Columbus East has since won 12 straight meetings and hasn’t dropped a league game since 2006 – a span of 66 contests, marking the state’s longest active conference win streak by a wide margin.

The Olympians travel to the Highlanders’ Weigleb Stadium on Friday for a 7 p.m. meeting against, historically, one of their tougher conference opponents.

Columbus East owns a 204-80 all-time record against HHC foes, including a 24-15 mark against Floyd Central dating back to 1977, good for a win percentage of 38.5 for the Highlanders. That mark ranks second only to Seymour in the conference. The Owls are 20-29 all-time against Columbus East (40.8 percent).

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The Olympians (4-1, 3-0) have shown no signs of regression this season, overwhelming its three HHC foes by a combined score of 148-45, including a 56-15 rout of New Albany at Buerk Field last week. Columbus East came in at No. 5 in both 5A polls this week.

The Highlanders (3-2, 2-1), meanwhile, enter off a commanding 35-7 home win over Jeffersonville in which Floyd Central controlled time of possession via its offensive line and rushing attack. The Red Devils ran just 30 plays as the Highlanders’ defense held Jeffersonville to only 134 yards of offense.

Floyd Central coach Brian Glesing said controlling time of possession, in an effort to keep Columbus East’s dynamic offense off the field, will again be key for the Highlanders in Week 6. The Olympians scored on plays of 80, 59, 52, 38, 28 and 24 yards last week.

“Anytime you play a great team with a great offense,” Glesing said, “you’ve got to win the time of possession battle. We did that last week, of course. We’ve just got to keep getting first downs, make a big play here and there. If we get a three-and-out, that’s not good for us. We’ve got to keep our offense on the field and give our defense a chance.”

A similar strength for both teams is offensive line play. Floyd Central’s offensive front controlled the line of scrimmage in its win last week, while Columbus East’s, led by Indiana commit Harry Crider, paved the way for two 100-yard rushers against New Albany.

The Olympians’ Jamon Hogan has rushed for 870 yards and 12 touchdowns behind the line. He’s one of five players to rush for at least 100 yards, including dual-threat quarterback Josh Major, who sat out two games this season with a concussion.

“Columbus East, as usual, they’ve got a great offensive line,” Glesing said. “Their defense is fast. They’ve got a good running back in Hogan, and their quarterback Major is very good. They’re very well coached. They’re fundamentally sound, and they’re top-notch at every position and in every facet of the game.”

Floyd Central also boasts five 100-yard rushers on the season, led by Jason Cundiff and Colt May with 527 yards and nine touchdowns combined. Cundiff, May, Devon Stikes, Zach Rodgers and quarterback Matthew Weimer guided the Highlanders to 304 yards rushing and five touchdowns last week.

The backfield by committee will attempt to crack a Columbus East defense that allows just 16.4 points per game – 15 to HHC opponents. TC O’Neal leads the Olympians with 32 total tackles, six for loss. Floyd Central’s defense allows 19.4 points per game but will match up with a Columbus East offensive unit that generates 44.6 points per contest.

“This is a great test for us,” Glesing said. “If we want to advance in the playoffs down the road, we’re going to see teams like this. We’ve got to hold our own. … You have to answer their fundamentals with our fundamentals.”

Game of the Week

What: Columbus East at Floyd Central

When: 7 p.m.

Records: Columbus East (4-1, 3-0 Hoosier Hills), Floyd Central (3-2, 2-1)

Rankings: Columbus East No. 5 in 5A (AP, IFCA)

Last meeting: Columbus East, 49-13 (Sep. 25, 2015)

The pick: Columbus East, 38-21