Hopes hang on same-old plan
Platooning offensive line could prove key in battle of run-first offenses
It was the first thing De Soto football coach Brad Scott noticed when analyzing tape before his team's Oct. 20 showdown against Eudora.
"They have all those big offensive linemen that get out there and push your around," he said. "Then they just walk over and rest when the team's on defense."
The two-way player isn't just a novelty of high school football -- often it's a necessity, but Eudora has driven deep into the playoffs without having to rely on its best players to go both ways.
Now the Cardinals are hoping that privilege can play a role in keeping the dream of a state championship alive.
"By now, every team is in pretty good shape, so it's not as big of an advantage in that way," Eudora coach Gregg Webb said. "The advantage is that your guys haven't taken all those blows on both sides of the ball throughout the year. We're hoping our bodies aren't as worn out as their bodies."
Eudora travels Friday to Girard for a 7 p.m. game that will offer the opportunity to win a sectional championship and advance to the state semi-finals. Eudora's chances may ride on the Cardinals ability to run the football on offense and stop the run on defense.
Eudora seemed to have the running thing down -- back Travis Clarke gained more than 250 yards of offense against Atchison with what Webb termed only a descent day from that offensive line.
The Cardinals have had some success stopping the run too. They've allowed just 2.6 yards per rush and smothered Atchison for much of Saturday's game.
The Redmen scored their first touchdown after gaining 30 yards on a fake punt, and put away the second thanks to a 90-yard touchdown pass when the going got desperate. Both were cause for concern, Webb said, but not the sustained drives that would keep him up at night.
That confidence will face perhaps its toughest test of the season Friday in Girard.
The Cardinals had anticipated a rematch with Frontier League rival Louisburg, the team that ousted Eudora from the playoffs last season. Girard ensured that wouldn't happen, however, and Webb said that's in no way a fluke.
The Trojans stunned the Wildcats by piling up 35 first-half points. Big plays, timely penalties and Louisburg mistakes may have paved the way to the five-touchdown half-time advantage, but Webb said after watching the tape, he couldn't help but be impressed.
"They got a couple turnovers and a couple breaks with penalties," Webb said. "But they were good enough to take advantage. Their offense stuck it in the end zone when they had the chance."
The second half was nearly the exact opposite of the first. Louisburg scored 29 unanswered points and forced what could have been a game deciding turnover, but Girard forced a turnover of its own and ran out the clock.
Girard lost two games this season, and finished second in its district, behind Pittsburg. Pittsburg lost Saturday to Paola, while the other team Girard lost to -- St. Mary's Colgan -- is 10-1 and rolling through the Class 2-1A bracket.
"They're going to run it the majority of the time and we have to stop them because they have flat been running it lately," Webb said. "They have a really talented quarterback who can run it, then they have a 6-foot-4 wide out who can jump, so we have to make that some sort of a priority.
"They're playing really, really well right now."