Former Cardinals leave their mark on collegiate football
With the emergence of the Eudora High School football team under Head Coach Aaron Barnett, three former Cardinals have taken their talents to the college game.
Robert Collins, class of 2000, recently completed his two seasons with Highland Community College. Collins, a 285-pound offensive lineman, was the first player from the Barnett era to play football at the next level. Collins counted Highland's upset victory over Coffeyville last season as the highlight of the two years.
"Coach Barnett's system of points for lifting and going out for other sports was good," Collins said. "I learned the value of weightlifting and doing other sports to stay in shape."
Collins more than "went out" for another sport while at EHS. He was the class 4A state heavyweight wrestling champion in 2000 and threw the shot put and discus for the track team.
"Collins is just an animal," said former teammate Zac Tyler. "He helped us out a lot on defense and really got after it. He was a good leader."
Collins is weighing his options for his next two collegiate seasons, and he is not counting out a possible return to wrestling. However, he chose football because of its team aspect when he decided to play for Highland instead of Butler County, Coffeyville or Fort Scott.
"I thought I had more fun because football was a team thing and you are working together for a goal," Collins said.
Eudora's first bi-district championship team produced two collegiate athletes, running back Brian Harris and wide receiver Steve Krutz. Both are playing college football. Harris, a 1,600-yard rusher for the Cardinals, played for Benedictine College's junior varsity squad and hopes to play on the varsity team next season. The varsity Ravens are currently 11-1 entering Saturday's NAIA playoff game against Sioux Falls University.
"Brian did a great job for us and the school he is at has high academic and athletic standards," said Barnett, a former Ravens offensive lineman.
Krutz, a 6-foot 160 receiver at Saint Mary College in Leavenworth sat out most of the season with a hip injury for the second-year football program.
However, Krutz played in two contests for the Spires, including its first victory in school history, a 43-21 triumph over Bethel College. Krutz said that playing at the collegiate level is much more difficult than his high school days and he hopes to make an impact for SMC next season.
"The conditioning is harder and there is more to remember on one side of the ball," Krutz said. "Everybody in college is bigger, faster and stronger. Coach has pretty high expectations for me and I'll be ready."
Barnett agrees that Krutz could make a difference for the fledgling program.
"Steve is in a program that just started football," Barnett said. "With a lot of hard work, he'll get a lot of playing time."
The most successful Eudora football alum of recent years, Nick Warren, class of 1997, did not play for Barnett but for the man who built the current foundation for Eudora football, Marty Kobza. Warren, a 6-foot 7-inch 255-pound senior tight end at Kansas State University was named honorable mention all-Big 12. He caught 16 passes for 179 yards, including four receptions for 49 yards in a 24-3 bowl-clinching victory over Missouri last Saturday. With the last two Wildcat tight ends in the NFL, Shad Meier of the Tennessee Titans and Justin Swift of the San Francisco 49ers, the Eudora native's name is likely to be among the NFL draftees in April.