Editor’s note: The following is the third of a four-part series on Columbia City’s football team.
COLUMBIA CITY — Rain was falling that October Friday night. The Max Gandy Athletic Field was soft and slick.
With conditions like those, the game was bound to be a low-scoring affair dominated by defense.
If someone could bust off one big play, that might have been all it would have taken to win the first sectional game.
The regular season was over. For all their efforts, the Columbia City Eagles held a 4-5 record and sat in fifth place in the Northeast Hoosier Conference.
The Eagles were guaranteed one sectional game, just like everyone else. They drew a home game against the Leo Lions, a 7-1 team that was ranked eighth among Indiana’s 4A schools.
This game would be different than those leading up to it in at least one way. For the first time since week three, Columbia City senior running back Adam Neely was suited up and in the starting lineup.
The rain indeed affected the game. Leo and Columbia City combined for 350 offensive yards total. Only 86 of them came through the air. Neither team scored through three-and-a-half quarters. After both teams finally managed to reach the end zone, Columbia City’s defense faced the Leo offense once more, this time with the score tied at 7 and 2:45 on the clock.
The Eagles stood tall with two tackles for loss by senior tackle Buddy O’Dell, thus earning Columbia City’s offense one more shot to lead the game before overtime.
The punt return got the Eagles to midfield. Neely got them to Leo’s 36-yard line. With 39 seconds to go, a sophomore made the big play.
Quarterback Travis Herbst hit sophomore wide receiver Dayne Asplund in stride along the sideline for the score and the lead, 14-7.
Columbia City’s victory was an upset — at least according to the area’s news reporters. Whether it was or it wasn’t, Head Coach Randy Hudgins saw the win as the fulfillment of his team’s potential.
The following week, the sports writers took notice of the Eagles and declared them the favorites in a match up with suddenly slumping 4-6 Bishop Dwenger.
For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Jan. 17 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition . For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage  and find us on facebook .