COLUMBUS — Columbus brings back a ton of starters from last year’s team that upset Eastern B champion Red Lodge in the opening round, 16-10, before falling to Glasgow in the quarterfinals. With so many pieces back, expectations are sky high.
“I think it’s really good, because our line, most of them are back," senior Colby Martinez said. "They’ve been working together. We did a lot of summer stuff together with them, so I think the line is going to help a lot with their chemistry with ours."
The quarterback-wide receiver combination of Caden Meier slinging it to Martinez can be a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. The two seniors have played together their entire life and almost have a sixth sense of what the other is going to do.
“It started in middle school, so it’s carried over. It’s gotten way stronger than what we had and I love it," said Meier. "I tell him when I call the play, I tell him, ‘Just go up and get it. I’m going to throw it up and you go get it.’ And he does it.”
But that connection wouldn’t be nearly as efficient if it weren’t for the talents of running back Trey Johannes. With three dynamic pieces on the field, the Columbus offense has the potential to be among the most high-powered in the state.
“It’s pretty tough, because you can either cover our pass and leave our underneath stuff, run, open, or you can let us pass, too. It’s dangerous with an all-state receiver in (Martinez)," Meier said.
“Well we’ve got two big threats – one in the backfield, Trey, then me in the passing. Then Meier, if he runs he can run. It’s just his choice right there," Martinez said.
The Cougars have a bit of a gauntlet ahead of them, though. Reigning state champion Manhattan is likely still the team to beat in the Southern B, but there’s no week off in the conference.
“Jefferson, Boulder, Townsend, the repeating state champs, that’s tough right there. I feel like Big Timber is under-looked, too, that’s not a bad team, so I feel like our conference is pretty tough," Martinez said.
After last year’s run to the quarterfinals, the Columbus seniors have one thing on their mind.
"We've been talking about going all the way since we were little, so hopefully we can get there," Martinez said.
“I think we’re going to take every week at a time. We want to get further than we have the last few years, but we’re just going to take one week at a time and succeed every week, get better," said Meier.
The Cougars will kick off the season at home on Sept. 3 against Shepherd.