Cards bring home a Homecoming win
De Soto falls to Eudora 40-20 in ‘Corridor Rivalry’
The K-10 Corridor Rivalry was renewed on Friday night as a pair of standout junior running backs brought their strong reputations to Laws Field in Eudora.
After last season's 74-0 Eudora victory in De Soto, the Wildcats took a ride on the shoulders of junior running back Michael Allen, who was injured on the first play of last year's contest.
"I told our team (Allen) was a good running back and he was definitely as good of a running back that we've seen this year," Coach Aaron Barnett said. "(De Soto Head Coach) Brad Scott is doing a good job. They are 100 percent better than they were last year."
Allen stole the show from Eudora's Andrew Pyle, last week's Lawrence Journal-World player of the week and Topeka Capital-Journal state player of the week, with 24 carries for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Pyle, however, still managed to rush 19 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Cardinals to a 40-20 victory in the opening game of district play.
De Soto (1-6) began the first half with the idea of shutting down the Eudora (6-1) running game, which has haunted Cardinal opponents all season. After a 27-yard touchdown from Allen, Eudora senior quarterback Ronnie Morelan, 6-10 for 138 yards and one touchdown, gave the team a solid passing option as he connected with the senior receiving corps of Josh Bowser, Lear Bowling and Cody Lauber.
"I've thrown the ball more than last year and I've practiced with it," Morelan said. "I know the receivers so that helps."
ond-year school in the De Soto School District, is riding a four game winning streak which includes wins at Santa Fe Trail and home victories over defending KVL co-champion Basehor-Linwood and Piper. The Jaguars have the advantage of playing all of their district games at their home field including a "road game" at De Soto, with whom they share a field. Mill Valley runs a Wing-T offense and has 17 seniors including Dustin Stinnett, Nick Sterner and Eric Chavez. They also have a talented quarterback in sophomore Tony Alvarez.
Mill Valley Coach George Radell said his team is planning on using clock management and rush defense to win possibly the biggest game in school history.
"I think the key for us will be stopping their running game," Radell said. "If you control the clock and get some first downs and then put them in a position where they have to make a lot of drives, then it'll be tough for them to score a lot of points."
Barnett knows that his team will be facing one of the area's hottest teams on Friday night.
"We have to do things correctly all the time and that will take repetition," Barnett said. "Mill Valley is playing their best football right now."
Barnett said he is thankful for a reliable passing game but he does not want that to diminish Eudora's trademark running game in the face of stifling defensive schemes.
"We want to throw the ball effectively but you've got to have that hard-nosed confidence to run the ball," Barnett said. "I don't care if they put all 11 guys on the line of scrimmage. That (running) is what we hang our hat on."
A series of Morelan's long balls to the senior receiving trio set up touchdown runs for Pyle which gave the Cardinals a 20-6 halftime cushion. However, De Soto would not go away quietly as Allen rushed for an 89-yard touchdown to bring his team within eight.
The Eudora defense responded with a team-leading 12 tackles from junior linebacker Kaleb Niedens, senior linebacker Zac Tyler's eight tackles and one interception and junior defensive lineman Dustin Moyer's three sacks. Lauber turned the momentum the Cardinals' way when he scored on a 30-yard fumble recovery for a 33-12 lead.
Niedens said the team was pleased to walk away with a victory but knows it does not have the luxury of playing in a first quarter slump on Friday at Mill Valley (5-2). "I think we'll be all right as long as we don't come out flat," Niedens said. "We have to win if we want to make it to the playoffs."
For the Cardinals, "the playoffs" start on Friday night against the Jaguars, who upset Bishop Ward (5-1) in the first game of district play. Mill Valley, a sec