Cards tackle Sabetha next in state quarterfinals
What does a league championship mean in the scope of Kansas 4A High School football?
Not a whole a lot at this point for the Eudora Cardinals (9-1). who treated league champions like Frontier League doormats during its last two games rolled up to lob-sided wins. The Cardinals, who finished fourth in the final Class 4A poll, outscored Huron League champion Bishop Ward (6-3) and Kaw Valley League Champion Basehor-Linwood (5-5) 82-23 in the district and bi-district championship games. The Cardinals will travel north to face their third league champion in a row after dispatching Basehor-Linwood 40-6. The foe will be Big Seven champion and undefeated Sabetha (10-0) at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
"I'd like to think this year's team is better (than last year's) because we have more experience," EHS Coach Aaron Barnett said. "We've really focused on the little things that we have to get better at."
Eudora relied on the offensive firepower of junior running back Andrew Pyle during Tuesday night's victory over Basehor-Linwood in the bi-district cham-ionship game at Laws Field. Pyle ate up half the field after only two or three carries during most of the first half while rushing 18 times for 175 yards. He had two touchdown runs from one-yard out and another of 55 yards.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, Pyle was able to spend much of the second half resting for the regional championship game while senior running back Tommy Shutt rushed 11 times for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Senior quarterback Ronnie Morelan, 4 for 9 and 104 yards, completed three short passes to senior tailback Zac Tyler, who turned the catches into big gains for Eudora. Morelan also showed his ability to throw the long ball when he completed a 35-yard pass to junior wide receiver Luke Powers on third and 34 in the second half.
"Our success is going to run through our tailback's hands," Barnett said. "The young kids got some playing time and since they are done with junior varsity and freshman, it was important for them to play."
Special teams also gave the Cardinals some early momentum as senior Josh Bowser scored his third punt return of the season, a 56 yarder in the first quarter and senior Cody Lauber capitalized on a bobbled punt by Basehor-Linwood for a 21 yard fumble return.
The Cardinal defense stifled the Basehor-Linwood running game and limited the Bobcats' passing attack. The Bobcats' senior running back duo of Matt Dukes and Joey Barlow carried for 25 and 14 yards respectively It wasn't until the Bobcats faced Eudora's second team defense that they could put two touchdowns on the board.
Last Thursday, the Cardinals clinched a playoff spot by defeating Bishop Ward 42-7 in the district championship game at Laws Field. Pyle rushed 28 times for 185 yards and a touchdown while Tyler scored two touchdowns. Shutt was a perfect 6 for 6 on extra points and rushed for a touchdown.
The Cardinal shut down Bishop Ward running back Jarrett Byers to 10 carries for 48 yards. Senior wide receiver Lorenzo Selectman was the only bright spot for the Huron League champion as he pulled in six catches for 132 yards and a 60 yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Pete Gorman. On defense, Tyler led the team with eight tackles while juniors Dustin Moyer and Kaleb Niedens had six each. The Cardinals recorded interceptions by senior Lear Bowling, sophomore Tyler Cleveland, senior Brock Robson and Shutt.
"We were really focused and came out and played well," Barnett said. "Tommy (Shutt) improved as a kicker and Brock (Robson) had his best game tonight."