The Fly Route
Kyle Brouhard trotted off the field and stood by himself late in Tuesday night's season-ending loss to Louisburg.
He was noticeably and understandably upset and I'm sure he was crushed that his last play on the field was an interception.
But Brouhard and the seniors that played their final game need not worry about the disappointing end to their season. They have plenty to be thankful for, even in the 44-30 loss that likely kept most of them awake late Tuesday night.
It really was a special game, not in outcome, but in that more than any other game, the Louisburg loss may have shown just what this class of seniors meant to the program.
We realized just how important Luke Abel was, for instance. Abel missed the game with a broken collarbone, but was on the sideline and was the first to join Brouhard and offer his support.
He may have been valuable, standing with his friend when the quarterback needed him most, but the Cardinals' inability to generate a running attack illustrated just how important he was on the field all season.
A Eudora running threat would have added stability to what became a wild game. Louisburg scored 29 fourth-quarter points, a sum the Cardinals couldn't possibly respond to. A consistent running attack would have cut down on possessions and allowed Eudora to manage its lead and the game down the stretch.
James Mills also spent a lot of time on the sideline Tuesday. He played fullback some, but could never generate the momentum he created all season long running on a healthy set of ankles. Tuesday he spent more time running back and forth trying to loosen up and shake the nagging injury than he did blasting between the tackles as he had all season.
Brouhard was forced to pass much more than it seemed he would like, hoping to make up for the running game lost to the medical ward.
His last play was an interception, a poor decision no doubt, but it was far from indicative of his night or his season.
Battling injuries of his own, he had to go gunslinger, zinging balls all around the stadium, and he consistently found more seniors doing what they did best. Miles Cleveland and Mark Abel (playing through pain in his knee and ankle and thanks to a new knee brace) did their part, each hauling in a touchdown and, along with Rodney Spillman, offering reliable targets all night.
The injuries became staggering as the season went on. Tim Moran had his appendix removed and Nolan Smith broke his wrist, but this team, these 12 seniors, did what no Eudora team's done in 40 years -- they started 8-0. And Tuesday it was evident they did it together. It took every single one of them, Austin Calhoon, Joel Morrison, Guy Montgomery, Steven Calderwood plus a good bit of help from the underclassmen, to achieve that mark.
When they started to fall to injuries, the season turned disappointing. It was likely a rough Wednesday for the team and the pain of an opportunity missed won't go away any time soon, but this team should realize how lucky it is.
If Luke Abel breaks his collarbone, Brouhard picks up his injuries, Mark Abel develops the pain or Mills hurts his ankle on the first day of practice, 8-0 is but a dream.
It took them all, and that should be the lasting message from Tuesday's game.