Cardinals ready for season opener
Two Frontier League heavyweights will begin their quest for a league championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Laws Field.
With the long and strenuous necessities known as two-a-day practices over, Eudora football players are eagerly awaiting the opener.
"Practice is getting long and we are tired of hitting each other," senior wide receiver/cornerback Lear Bowling said. "We're ready to hit someone else."
EHS, last year's Frontier League champion with a 9-2 record, opens its title defense against traditional power Paola, which finished 7-2 last season, for the second consecutive season. The Cardinals defeated Paola 14-13 in overtime in last season's opening game for EHS' first victory in school history against the Panthers.
EHS Coach Aaron Barnett has been impressed with what he has seen from the Cardinals' 58-player roster during two-a-day practices.
"This is a good group of kids and I enjoy working with them," Barnett said. "They have a lot of experience and they know what to do. I have high expectations for the team and I think they will do a good job living up to it."
Last week's cooler evening weather favored the Cardinals, and Barnett hopes that Mother Nature won't decide to turn the heat up for Friday night.
"These have been some of the coolest practices I can remember," Barnett said in regard to the weather. "I'd be a little concerned if it does heat up for the game."
Senior Ronnie Morelan was able to maintain his position as the starting quarterback during the two-a-day practices. Junior backup quarterback Kaleb Niedens will play tight end in the Cardinals' I-formation offense. Barnett said he plans on using five running backs, seniors Tommy Shutt and Zac Tyler and the junior trio of Joe Born, Tyler Jackson and Andrew Pyle, to wear down the Panther defense, which was the best in the Frontier league last year.
"We will keep the five running backs rotating so we can have fresh legs running the ball," the coach said.
Barnett thinks that the game will be determined by the team's base defense and special teams.
"They are going to come out and run the triple option," Barnett said. "Our players have to understand their roles and their assignments. Our coaches have done a good job of utilizing two a days and they are prepared as anybody else."
Earlier in the summer, Barnett stated that each EHS team must have its own identity to be successful. He thinks that this year's team will find its stride early in the season.
"The first game is going to a long way in determining the team identity," Barnett said. "This year, we've got a big target on our chest and I'm anxious to see how the team will respond. I'm confident that they will respond well."
Bowling said the team has been working on its identity and should have it by the time the bright lights turn on at Laws Field.
"Right now, we're wandering a little bit but come Friday night we will know who we are and what we are about," Bowling said.