Cardinals topple Baldwin 35-14
Pyle breaks rushing record
Eudora High School football coach Aaron Barnett taught a course in Clock Management 101 during the third quarter of Eudora's 35-14 victory on Friday night at Baldwin.
Barnett's teaching method received strong reviews from parents, teachers, former players and other Cardinal fans who celebrated in a small corner adjacent to the tiny visitor bleachers of Baker University's Liston Stadium.
However, the fourth-year coach was fortunate enough to have the proper elements of a sturdy offensive line, a stone wall defense that held the Bulldogs to 144 yards of total offense and the services of junior running back Andrew Pyle, a workhorse who carried the ball 46 times for a school record 359 yards in only his sixth career start. The Cardinals (5-1) claimed their seventh straight road victory and guaranteed themselves at least a second-place tie with Class 5A Gardner-Edgerton (5-1) in the Frontier League standings.
For the Cardinals and Trailblazers to share the league crown, undefeated Paola (6-0) would have to lose two of its district games against Baldwin, Louisburg and Spring Hill. Barnett said the team will shift its focus from the Frontier League championship chase to its upcoming district game against De Soto in Friday night's homecoming game at Laws Field.
"I don't think Baldwin stopped us all second half," Barnett said. "Baldwin had this game circled on their calendar all year and we answered the challenge. I've told our kids we've been in the playoffs and in the playoffs, you have to run the football and play good defense."
With his Cardinal uniform covered with the Liston Stadium dirt, Pyle had confidence in his new-found endurance and reliable offensive line.
"Once we got going, I got used to carrying the ball," Pyle said. "I wasn't getting too tired like I thought I would be and the offensive line gave me holes and did a good job blocking."
While he had some impressive runs in the first half, Pyle settled for first down plays that ran down the clock as the Cardinals led Baldwin 14-7. EHS took a 21-7 lead after a one-yard keeper by senior quarterback Ronnie Morelan, 2-7 and 30 yards passing. On the Cardinals' next possession, the Cardinal offensive line eroded the Baldwin defense through short Pyle runs and rewarded the standout running back with the opportunity for a 75 touchdown run that gave Eudora a 28-7 lead with 9:25 in the fourth quarter.
"Zac Tyler had a good block that sprung me," Pyle said. "Things came together on that play and it happened. I don't know if I could have carried as much earlier in the season but practice has given me more endurance so it wasn't a big deal."
Junior Joe Born led the Cardinal defense with 11 tackles and a forced fumble while senior linebacker Zac Tyler had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Junior Kaleb Niedens and senior Josh Bowser each intercepted Baldwin senior quarterback Tyler Inzer.
"Their offense wasn't that hard to read and we were basically ready for them," Tyler said. "Most of us wanted the win really bad."
The Cardinals are hoping to qualify for the playoffs for the second straight season but they know it won't be an easy task. EHS will open with De Soto (1-4), who has improved since its 74-0 loss to Eudora last year. The Wildcats defeated Lansing in the season opener and played close games in losses to Kaw Valley League rivals Tonganoxie and Immaculata.
The De Soto offense features junior running back Michael Allen, junior quarterback Greg Francis and senior wide receiver Justin Haub. The Cardinals will then travel to De Soto's home field to play the Mill Valley Jaguars (4-2), before hosting Huron League champion Bishop Ward (5-1) at Laws Field.
Eudora does not have to win all three games to qualify for the state playoffs but its chance of making the playoffs would decrease significantly if it loses one of the games. The first tie-breaker is head to head competition but in the unlikely event of a three way tie, there is a point system, Barnett said. Each team is rewarded points for the margin of victory or loss up to 13. For example, Eudora only received 13 points in the point system for defeating De Soto 74-0 last season and the Wildcats were lucky enough to lose a mere 13 points.
Pyle said he looks forward to the challenge of following Barnett's future lesson plans which will most likely include the record-setting running back.
"De Soto will probably be a little ticked off after last year's game but we want to control the game right away," Pyle said.