Within seconds of the final buzzer ringing, Columbus Lions fans were pouring out onto the field at the Columbus Civic Center on Sunday to celebrate the Lions’ 68-13 Southern Indoor Football League championship game victory over the Louisiana Swashbucklers.
It’s a long-standing tradition after each Lions home game, but for the first time in team history there was a good chance the fans were getting splashed by popping champagne bottles, shaken-up Bud Lights and the three buckets of Gatorade that Lions players dumped on Columbus coach Jason Gibson.
Longtime season-ticket holder Allen Meek stood with his wife and son in the end zone as players celebrated, just soaking it in.
“We’re just thrilled with this,” said Meek, a season ticket holder since the Lions’ inaugural season in 2007. “This is what we wait for every season. It feels great.”
The closest the Lions had come to a championship was also in 2007. They reached the World Indoor Football League championship game, where they fell to the Augusta Spartans. Since, the Lions had stalled at the semifinals.
Columbus players and coaches were quick to acknowledge the role the 2,057 spectators played Sunday night, and even Louisiana coach Michael Warren said the crowd noise played a role in swinging the game in favor of Columbus.
“The fans were a huge part of this,” Lions quarterback Chris McCoy said. “We put forth a great team effort, but we have a great home-field advantage here. That’s what made us so good tonight.”