BLITZ: Complete team effort lifts Columbia City to NE8 title

Columbia City’s Ethan Sievers runs the ball during an October 14 game at Norwell. (Photo by John Nagel)

There is a saying that gets thrown around that feels applicable following Friday’s 25-24 victory for Columbia City over Norwell to capture the Northeast Eight championship.

“It takes a village.”

Yes, it’s usually used when talking about raising kids, but whatever. This is Blitz’s column, he can do whatever he wants.

There was no individual effort that brought the Eagles back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter to knock off previously-undefeated Norwell, but rather the collective. A true team effort.

Josh Arntz’s plunge from two yards out with less than a minute remaining in regulation that put Columbia City ahead will gain a fair amount of the highlights, but two plays before it was Ethan Sievers’ scamper on third and long down the sideline and back across the field to put the Eagles in business inside the 5 yard line. Sievers made some big plays all night, including a 50 yard score in the second quarter; he finished with 96 yards rushing and 42 yards receiving.

Arntz also came up big on Norwell’s possession prior, bringing down Lleyton Bailey in the open field on third down to force a punt.

There were others. Many others.

There was Martin Smith, who recovered a Luke Graft fumble early in the third quarter. A play later, Sievers ran for a 50-yard score to bring the Eagles to within two.

There was Landon Urban, who hit a pair of field goals and was perfect on extra points on the night.

There was Colten Pieper, who ran the offense looked the part of a seasoned veteran. While he threw a pair of interceptions without a touchdown, he was huge in converting some big third downs through the air and finished with 140 passing yards.

Columbia City’s Stratton Fuller pulls in a catch during the October 14 game at Norwell. (Photo by John Nagel)

There was Stratton Fuller, who never seems to tire while starting on both offense and defense, hauling in a team-high 56 yards receiving and helping keep Norwell locked down when it went vertical as the Knights were able to complete just 4-of-12 passes.

There was Dominic Chacon, who had another sure-handed night on defense where he leads Columbia City in tackles. With Norwell known for its rushing attack, it was Chacon, Arntz and others who made every inch of yardage gained difficult, something the Knights had not seen all year. Chacon led Columbia City with eight tackles, while Arntz added four and a sack. Cohen Payne stepped in with 7.5 tackles and an interception for the Eagles.

And those names are just the tip of the iceberg. As Columbia City celebrated its first conference championship since 2010 there were plenty of hugs to go around, as there should have been. This is not a team built around the skills of a single player, but rather a true team effort. Goree. Getts. Shearer. Payne. Carnahan. The list goes on and on.

“Unreal feeling, love my guys!” Columbia City coach Brett Fox said following the win. “They have no quit in them. They could have packed it up after the first half we played. Instead we played a full game.”

There is something that just hits different in rural northeast Indiana when teams succeed, particularly with the programs whose name emblazoned on the front of the jerseys matches the town it plays in. Columbia City fans cheered and jeered throughout the game in support of their Eagles – knowing that not only was their team capable of competing with the No. 3 team in Class 3A, but also beating them.

It wasn’t just a village of players on Friday night that ousted Norwell. It was a village of players, coaches and fans.

The result? Arguably the biggest win for Columbia City football in two decades.

Columbia City’s Josh Arntz (32) and AJ Spencer celebrate Arntz’s go ahead touchdown in the closing minute at Norwell on October 14. (Photo by John Nagel)

These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH

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