League expansion adds new fuel to rivalry fire
The letter "F" is for Fridays, football and fans -- the essential formula for high school sports in America. And the town of Eudora is no exception.
Less than two weeks remain before the official beginning of the high school football season. The Eudora Cardinals football team hits the field for practice Aug. 16. And although it's yet to be determined how many games it will win, it's clear now whom the Cardinals will have to beat. The 2004 schedule is out.
The upcoming Cardinal campaign contains a collection of new and traditional rivalries and other intriguing match-ups. It has the potential to reproduce the community mania that existed a couple years ago.
The Cardinals will square-off against nine opponents during the regular season this year -- five on the road and four at home. All games kick-off at 7 p.m.
Eight of the nine games are Frontier League match-ups. Central Heights, De Soto and Ottawa join the league this season. The expansion pushes the league to 13 teams.
For the football season only, the league will divide into two divisions, a Big School Division and a Small School Division. The big division will include Baldwin, Gardner-Edgerton, Louisburg, Ottawa, Paola and Spring Hill. The small division will consist of Anderson County, Central Heights, De Soto, Eudora, Osawatomie, Prairie View and Wellsville.
The Cardinals join Baldwin, Santa Fe Trail and Spring Hill in District 4.
Eudora is coming off a 7-3 season in 2003. The season ended in a bi-district playoff loss to Baldwin. Cardinals in Wellsville. Eudora defeated Osawatomie 26-16 a year ago.
The Cards' home opener falls on Sept. 17. Eudora will be the hosts to Prairie View. This will be the community's first exposure to Cardinal fever in 2004. Eudora edged Prairie View 20-13 in last year's season-opener.
Anderson County comes calling Sept. 24, looking to avenge a 42-0 thumping at the hands of the Cardinals a season ago. It was one of two shut-outs pitched by Eudora last year. This could prove an important momentum game.
Eudora hits the road again on the first of October heading to new league member Central Heights. It marks the second of two meetings with 3A clubs.
The first league match-up between Eudora and top geographical rival De Soto is Oct. 8. The Wildcats are coming off a revitalizing 2003 season. Eudora held-off the upstart De Soto squad 28-19 last season.
The Cardinals return the following Friday for a homecoming contest against Santa Fe Trail. The game has ramifications far beyond homecoming -- it marks the first of three critical district match-ups. The two teams didn't meet in 2003.
Eudora's final regular season road trip falls on Oct. 22 in Spring Hill. The Broncos represent the second-consecutive district contest and the second consecutive opponent that avoided Eudora the previous year.
The regular season finale was saved for none other than top-rival Baldwin. The Bulldogs devastated the Cards in 2003. Two of Eudora's three losses were at the hands of Baldwin -- including the Cards' season-ending loss in bi-district play. The Bulldogs out-scored the Cardinals 58-25 last year. The league and the district may be riding on this payback opportunity.
The Baldwin game falls on a Thursday. The bump in the schedule is to provide an extra day of preparation before playoffs begin with bi-district play Nov. 2.
The only other team to defeat the Cards last season was Paola. In perhaps the game of the year, the Panthers escaped with a 27-26 victory. 5A Paola avoids payback this season.
If the Cards can advance past their bi-district date, regionals will fall on Nov. 6, sectionals Nov. 12, sub-state Nov. 19, and finally the state championship Nov. 27.
The Cards begin their new season Sept. 3 on the road at Wellsville, which represents one of two 3A opponents on Eudora's schedule. The Frontier League match-up will undoubtedly prove vital in setting the tone for the season. Wellsville gave the Cards all they wanted and more last season. Eudora claimed a low-scoring affair 14-7.
Eudora is again on the road for the season's second week against Osawatomie. The importance of the Osawatomie game may depend on the play of the