The Fly Route
Eudora football coach Gregg Webb summed it all up -- "You're supposed to have to play well if you're going to get this far into the playoffs."
His team has played some amazing football, and it's accordingly deep in the playoffs.
There wouldn't seem to be any reason to think it couldn't push further either. Let's just say there weren't many Cardinal-red tears shed when Louisburg lost, giving Eudora a shot at 9-2 Girard rather than the Wildcats that ended Eudora's season last year.
Here's the catch though -- if Eudora plays as it has in the first two rounds of the playoffs, it won't be pushing past the third round and it won't seize upon whatever opportunity -- probably more perceived than actual -- that playing Girard rather than Louisburg offers.
The Cardinals truly have put together some excellent football in the last few weeks, and they're relying upon all the things a team needs to rely upon for a championship drive -- defense and the running game.
It's not those basic elements that have me worried, though. It's the small things that threaten to do Eudora in.
Eudora fumbled the ball multiple times in its bi-district win against Kansas City-Piper. It was cold and it was wet, but that can't happen if this team is to realize and exceed its potential.
It wasn't exactly fumbles again against Atchison, but dropped passes, missed blocks and untimely slips.
It seemed unlikely when the season began, but despite replacing most of the key players from last year's team, Eudora has a real chance to drive to the state title game.
They can't play sloppy, though.
Webb talked Saturday about how his team just couldn't quite put Atchison away. That's nothing to be ashamed of. The Redmen earned a 10-0 record mostly by sticking close in ballgames and finding a way to win late. But I can't help but wonder if soon that missing killer instinct and a few sloppy plays could catch up to Eudora.
I at least don't think Webb's too worried about it, and that -- more than anything else -- should give Cardinal fans hope as the team prepares to travel to Girard.
Eudora has yet to play its best game of these playoffs, but it hasn't exactly tried to open it up either. When asked about his team's dismal aerial attack over the last two weeks, Webb said he wasn't thrilled that a combination of arrant passes and poor catches had netted the team only six receptions, but that the Cardinals had yet to really try to stretch the field consistently.
I don't think Eudora will be able to skate by on the strength of its defense and running game again this week. Those are the two main ingredients for most championship teams, but it always takes a little something else too.
Girard slammed up 35 points on a solid Louisburg defense Saturday in just one half. Eudora's not going to be able to afford to give those guys second chances with fumbles and it's not going to be able to afford to bumble opportunities for points.
That said, I don't think the Cardinals will.
As I said -- they haven't played their best game, but I think they're ready, and Friday I think that'll be enough to come home from Girard with a ticket to the state semi-finals.