Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2006

Osawatomie to offer tough first test for Cardinals

Last season’s nail-bitter will have Trojans seeking revenge

August 31, 2006

It was one of those nail-biting games where the outcome literally was decided with seconds left on the clock.

Although close, things seemed to be going in favor for the Eudora High School football team Sept. 9, 2005, against Osawatomie. Eudora was clinging to an 18-16 lead with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but had just five yards to go to reach the end zone and a victory-ensuring touchdown.

Then it happened.

Osawatomie's cornerback Jasper Needham darted through the offense and stripped the ball from running back James Mills, running it back 95 yards to throw six more points on the board for the Trojans.

The Cardinals scrambled to put together a seven play, 70-yard drive and were finally able to exhale when quarterback Kyle Brouhard connected with Miles Cleveland for a 16-yard touchdown pass with just seconds remaining on the clock.

Now, the Cardinals are gearing up to play the Trojans again in what is sure to be a very emotionally-charged game Friday at Laws Stadium.

"They always seem to play us tough," coach Gregg Webb said. "We were kind of lucky to come back with a win. They're a good opponent, and we're not good enough to look past anybody."

But it is all a whole new year and Osawatomie doesn't just have a different team, it has a different coach. Rod Madden stepped down as coach of the Trojans after last season's 2-7 campaign. Replacing him will be Clint Bailey.

Senior Max Alvarez said the uncertainty of what to expect from the Trojans was what was unsettling him the most. He said the only thing that can be expected from Osawatomie is they will want blood.

In addition to the question mark of not knowing what the Trojans will do or how well they'll do it, Webb said the Cards have an even more pressing matter that is keeping him up at night ? the offensive line's inconsistency.

"I'm hoping that later on our offensive line will once again be the strength of the team," Webb said. "But right now we still have issues with our efforts. We are pretty inconsistent."

On the flip side, however, Webb said the defense as a whole was really shaping up and was playing as well as it had in previous years.

Although it is extremely difficult to prepare for the first game because of so many x-factors, Webb said the week prior to the game was dedicated to preparing for the Trojans by studying the team's past incarnations and how it operated as a unit. He said everything the team worked on that week would be directed toward besting Osawatomie Friday night.

Alvarez said he was not letting his memory of last year's game intimidate him and make him nervous. He said he's confident the Cards would be able to overcome the Trojans Friday and was just ready to get back on the field and play some football.

"Just having the season opener at home is what's getting me pretty excited," Alvarez said. "I think we'll get more pumped up because we are going to be at home."

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