There were a lucky few.
There were a lucky few.
Those of us who opened the earliest editions of the Columbus Dispatch simply saw one line.
West 74, Independence 71.
Two City League-South Division football teams made history Oct. 16, and those who saw it were the fortunate few.
"I told people all week this would be a fantastic game to watch," West coach Mark Flusche said. "If I'm a fan, it's a great game. I remember turning around during the game and looking at the stands. The people were into it."
Those who witnessed the fifth-highest scoring football game in state history saw 21 touchdowns. Seven of the 11 passes that West quarterback Eric Stewart threw were taken to the house.
Independence running back Devin Clodfelter was unstoppable, carrying the ball 48 times for 484 yards. This would have been the kind of game that a television station would love -- a great running back versus a great quarterback. Yet the media was nowhere near this one.
I'm embarrassed that I didn't see this coming. I'm a professional watcher of football. I should have marched into my sports editor's office, slammed my hand down on his desk and demanded to cover the Independence-West game. It didn't matter that I was assigned to cover Big Walnut and New Albany.
I needed to watch 3-4 West take on 4-3 Independence. I should have demanded it. After all, history was going to be made. A blind man could have seen it.
Two of the most dominant offensive players the City League has produced in years were going to be on the same field, playing against defenses that had been lit up more than once this season. There were going to be fireworks. How could I not have said anything?
"Eric Stewart is about one of the best quarterbacks that I've seen, and I've been around since 1984," said Independence coach Alan Jones, who is stepping down as coach at season's end. "Just his release time. He's got a good tight ball and he throws it on a rope. Since 1984, he's been the best quarterback by far."
Although only a junior, Stewart (6-foot, 180 pounds) is the Central District career passing leader. He had 5,206 yards passing before adding another 358 against the Cowboys.
Clodfelter has been a pure beast since becoming Independence's featured running back last season. His rushing performance against West brought his total this season to 1,932 yards. He already has eclipsed 4,000 yards in two seasons.
"You had the leading rusher and the leading passer in central Ohio," Flusche said. "They couldn't stop the pass, and we couldn't stop the run. Both teams were victimized by the other team's strength."
The only tragedy is that hardly anyone saw it. It's like the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a professional basketball game in Hershey, Pa., in 1962. There were no television accounts of that game. There was a radio broadcast, a handful of press, and a little over 4,000 people on hand. A black-and-white photo of Chamberlain holding a piece of notebook paper with "100" scrawled on it is the only visual account people associate with the game.
There are a few out there who don't believe it really happened.
All that's left of this football game is imprinted in the minds of the few hundred people that were there. Professional observers, like myself, were absent. West has a coaches tape that it let Independence copy because its equipment malfunctioned. Perhaps a couple parents in the stands recorded some footage. But everything you read in the press or hear on radio or on television is a second-hand account of what happened.
The score could have been higher if Independence had not fumbled on the West 3-yard line with seven seconds left.
"I didn't really feel part of anything special," Jones said. "The first thing that crossed my mind was that we scored 71 points and lost. I didn't think anything about it until my wife called me from Florida. Maybe sometime after the season, it will sink in."
Maybe it will sink in 10 years down the line when people talk about being there when West defeated Independence 74-71.