1948: Football glory days revisited
53 years ago, the Cardinals had an undefeated season
In the year 2054, this season's Eudora High School football players will recollect long-past memories of their football playing days and realize how much the game has changed over the years. However, the 9-2 squad won't have the chance to claim what one team could 53 years ago: an undefeated season.
Before there were playoff systems and sophisticated offensive and defensive schemes, the 1948 Eudora High School team won a Little Six League Championship by outscoring opponents 305-73 with a single wing offense. During the previous season, Eudora finished second in the Little Six and suffered its lone setback at Wellsville. The Little Six, which consisted of EHS, Wellsville, Baldwin, Gardner, De Soto and Louisburg, was an early version of what is now known as the Frontier League minus De Soto.
Edgar Grosdidier, a senior left half back on the 1948 team, looked up some old newspaper clippings on his team at Lawrence Public Library and reminisced over the squad's 34-7 victory against the Lawrence B team. The Cardinals also defeated Shawnee Mission B and turned back Tonganoxie in the midst of a snowstorm during the perfect season. Grosdidier fondly remembers the days when senior quarterback Jim Weidensaul decided the plays rather than an entire crew of coaches. However, he said the game has evolved into a better sport today.
"Back then, the quarterback called the plays and we didn't have contact with the coach until the timeout," Grosdidier said. "Today, coaches have more eyes on what's going on."
In a time when the NFL's Cardinals called Chicago's Comiskey Park their home field, Eudora High School had less then 100 students and the football team never wavered from its single-wing offensive scheme. Richard "Zeke" Ziesenis, a left end on the team who still resides in Eudora, said the defensive schemes were equally basic.
"All of the players played offense and defense," Ziesenis said. "From our junior year on we played a six linemen- three linebacker-two defensive back set on every play. We didn't do much weightlifting but we did calisthenics and we scrimmaged a lot. Football has changed and improved so much."
Grosdidier and Ziesenis enjoyed the resurgence of football in Eudora under Coach Aaron Barnett as they attended the Cardinals regional championship game at Sabetha.
"This team (2001) is so much better, bigger, faster and stronger than we were," Grosdidier said. "We just had little leather helmets."
Ziesenis agreed with Grosdidier but he is still proud to be a member of the town's only undefeated, un-tied squad.
"We didn't get much recognition and a lot of the people in town don't know about it," Ziesenis said. "This (2001) Eudora team now would beat us 25 or 30 to nothing."
Barnett said he thinks it would be a good idea to honor the only undefeated team in school history during a halftime ceremony next season.
"It is important for some of those people who are still interested in our program to be recognized," Barnett said.
Grosdidier, who is currently a real estate agent in Lawrence, played football during his freshman season at Pittsburg State under legendary coach Carnie Smith. Grosdidier's teammates, running back Don Simons and Weidensaul both played for Ottawa University with Simons gaining Little All-America honors.
Delbert Seiwald, an end and blocking back on the 1948 squad, still lives in Eudora and remembers how fun it was to play as a team.
"When I was a freshman, we had 12 or 13 kids so we pretty much were a senior team in 1948," Seiwald said. "We had experience and that makes a world of difference."