Awards bountiful at banquet
A tearful Aaron Barnett told 12 senior football players the lesson learned from the final play of their high school careers was a microcosm for their real-world future and then reminded the underclassmen they'll have a chance to prove themselves next season.
"There are things that happened on the football field that you are going to remember for the rest of your life," Barnett said. "When you go on in life, there will be a lot more fourth and inches that will be a heck of a lot more important than football. Right now, we might be 0-1 on fourth and inches but I want you to be undefeated on fourth and inches for the rest of your life."
The Eudora High School football program honored its managers, cheerleaders, freshman, junior varsity and varsity squads at its annual banquet at the high school auditorium Monday night. The audience heard the colorful commentary of a legendary small college coach.
The seniors awarded Barnett with a No. 50 New York Jets jersey, his favorite NFL team, with his named inscribed on the back of it and thanked athletic director Larry McPherson, who will be retiring at the end of the school year.
"I'm going to be coaching a long time and if I ever get to be around a group of seniors like you guys, I'll be a lucky guy," Barnett said to his seniors.
Barnett also gave words of encouragement to the underclassmen, telling them to stay with the program and they will experience positive results.
Dr. Ted Kessinger, head coach of Bethany College in Lindsborg and the all-time active winningest coach in NAIA, was the guest speaker at this season's awards ceremony. EHS Assistant Coach Phil Katzenmeier played halfback for Kessinger in the early 1980s.
"Eighteen and four that's tremendous," Kessinger said. "At some schools, I talk about success and they are developing it, but here you have it."
Kessinger acknowledged the importance of the community, the cheerleaders and everyone else involved with a football team by leading a three part cheer with the crowd. He also performed magic tricks on Barnett, Assistant Coach Joe Hanna, Zac Tyler and Rachel Calhoon. After telling several humorous anecdotes, Kessinger closed his speech by telling the athletes the important things in life.
"Four factors will make a difference for the rest of your life loyalty, believing in yourself, hanging in there when things get tough and commitment," Kessinger said.
The EHS volleyball team honored several of its members last week. Coach Jill Stutler reflected on the potential of next year's squad.
"Lauren (Kracl) was our go-to-player and she was the most all-around stat wise," Stutler said. "I think (Kayla) Moyer is going to bring defensive tenacity and (Jacqueline) Pyle's overall improvement has been incredible."