Line question for offense
The Eudora Cardinals were a team of extremes during a successful 8-4 season in 2004. The Cardinal offense racked up four games in the middle of the campaign in which they breached the 48-point mark. But on the flip side, the squad found itself struggling in games against De Soto, Baldwin and Topeka Hayden where they failed to score more than a touchdown.
"There were a lot of games in which we struggled to score," head coach Gregg Webb said. "On the other hand there were times when we looked like the greatest offensive machine ever. So we need to work on getting a little consistency and hopefully we can be more consistent as the year goes on."
The trick for the Cardinals coming into the 2005 campaign may be in replacing key components on the offense. The loss of many seniors on the line, at receiver and behind the quarterback may pose a challenge for establishing that consistency.
In the backfield the Cardinals lose senior fullback Brendan Jackson from a unit that accumulated 4,086 yards of total offense. Jackson takes with him 17 of Eudora's 35 rushing touchdowns, as well as 864 of the team's yards on the ground.
But the hope in the backfield may be in the return of senior running back Luke Abel.
A year ago Abel led the team with more than 1,100 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. Although Abel did double duty last year by playing in the secondary, this year he will primarily be on the offensive side of the ball.
"We need to get the ball in his hands this year," Webb said. "He has great vision on the field so we'll concentrate on getting him the ball."
Another bright spot for the Cardinals on offense is the return of senior quarterback Kyle Brouhard. After inheriting the starting job a year ago, Brouhard finished the 2004 campaign with 942 yards passing and 10 touchdowns. These numbers came in an offense that was geared toward the run.
But as Brouhard looks toward another solid year through the air, he'll have to do it without one of his primary weapons, receiver Joe Kaup. Kaup accounted for more than half of the Cardinals receiving yards, while grabbing five passes for touchdowns.
The task of replacing that much offense in the air attack could be a challenge for the coaching staff.
"We have a bunch of guys out there that we like," Webb said. "But we don't have anybody that could get you the big play like Joe could. We would just throw it up there and Joe was such an athletic player that he would usually make the play."
Seniors Miles Cleveland and Mark Abel, who both contributed to the passing game last year, may have to step up and find some of that missing offense if the Cardinals are going to avoid being a one-dimensional team.
On the offensive line, the Cardinals face one of the same concerns as the defense, the loss of size up front.
Eudora parted ways with a number of seniors on the line, including Josh Barr and Joe Faulk, which gives the Cardinals another problem akin to the defense, a lack of experience.
"Our tackles are not as experienced as the ones from last year," Webb said. "But we're going to have to make the best of what they can do."
With experience in the backfield and questions up front, the Cardinals will look to take advantage of two opening home games to gain some momentum as the season goes on.
The Cardinals offense, which averaged 40 points in eight victories a year ago, will get its first taste of action Friday against Wellsville at 7 p.m. at Laws Field.