Archive for Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hard to swallow

Eudora’s state dreams smashed with loss to Girard

November 16, 2006

The game may have begun in sweat and excitement, but it ended in tears and defeat Friday night against Girard, when Eudora lost in the sectional round of the state tournament, 21-14.

After a pristine season that saw Eudora reel off 11-straight wins, the Cardinal offense proved unable to bust through the Girard defense, disallowing anything more than 14 points for Eudora.

Eudora senior Kent Swanson (8) and junior Morgan Abel can't watch
Friday as the Girard Trojans celebrated a 21-14 win that will pit
them against Paola in the Class 4A state semi-finals. The
season-ending loss was Eudora's first of the season.

Eudora senior Kent Swanson (8) and junior Morgan Abel can't watch Friday as the Girard Trojans celebrated a 21-14 win that will pit them against Paola in the Class 4A state semi-finals. The season-ending loss was Eudora's first of the season.

Coach Gregg Webb said the offense just lacked the ability to score more than two touchdowns.

"I'm very frustrated by how the offense played," Webb said. "The defense gave us every opportunity in the world to win -- that's the most disappointing part. We were awfully inconsistent with our blocking assignments in our offensive line."

That the night would be a disappointment wasn't obvious immediately. The Cardinals took a lead on the first drive of the game by steadily marching the ball up the field. Kent Swanson launched the ball to Mike Ortega, who caught it for a 23-yard touchdown reception.

The Cardinals were able to score just one more touchdown in the game, though. After Eudora fell behind 14-6, Chad Krutz helped even the score, splitting right through the Girard defense for a nine-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.

The Trojans responded, however, and by the time the first half ended, the Eudora defense gave up three touchdowns for a total of 135 Girard offensive yards, creating a seven-point deficit for the Cardinals.

In the second half, the defense held Girard, disallowing the small point gap to get any larger. Webb said the way the defense played in the first half compared to the way it played in the second half was like night and day.

"We did not tackle very well in the first half," Webb said. "By the time our kids woke up in the second half, it wasn't too late to make things up. Our defense rose to the challenge and tired their offense. We were a lot more aggressive in the second half."

Unfortunately for Eudora, the Girard defense seemed to pick things up as well, stopping the Cardinal offense on every drive. Girard did not allow the Cardinals to get any closer to the end zone than the 31-yard line the entire second half.

The typical Cardinal ace-in-the-sleeve, Travis Clarke, had a total of 137 rushing yards. But by the second half, Girard had wisened up to the Cardinal offense and put a marker on Clarke, which forced Eudora to utilize several unfamiliar offensive plays. Although 137 rushing yards was a good mark, it was lacking compared to Clarke's outing in the prior week. He ran for 215 yards in Atchison. Webb said the relatively low number was a result of the lack of opportunities Clarke had to actually run the ball.

"We just never got the amount of offensive snaps that we should have had," Webb said. "A lot of it was just putting ourselves in bad positions, and we just could not put together a drive. I thought he ran well enough."

In all, Webb said he was proud of the hard work the team had done this season.

"It's disappointing not playing this Friday night in front of a home crowd," Webb said. "It just kills me."

"If you look back at the beginning of the season -- for a team who lost so many skill players -- and you would have told me we'd go 11-1, I would not have believed it."

The Cardinals ended the season by receiving the Class 4A sectionals runners-up plaque following the game.

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