Clarke powers Cards to win
Eudora coach Gregg Webb said Travis Clarke is still learning what it takes to be a great running back.
Here's a tip, Travis -- play more games like Friday's and it won't be long before Webb and everyone else doesn't hesitate to take "learning" out of that sentence.
Clarke ran for 205 yards and scored five touchdowns Friday as visiting Eudora rolled in the first game of district play, beating Spring Hill 48-6.
"We wanted to make a statement for the next three games," senior quarterback Kent Swanson said. "These are the three biggest games of our season. The first six don't matter."
Clarke gained his yards on 30 carries, scoring on runs of four, seven, three, six and one yards and was the constant motor behind a Cardinal offense that had little trouble moving the ball early.
The Cards piled up three quick scores -- two from Clarke and a third on a 17-yard Kent Swanson-to-Matthew Abel play-action pass -- and Webb said his team was on the verge of a first-half knockout blow.
The Eudora defense was dominate for nearly every one of Friday's 48 minutes, but nevermore so than it was in the first 11. The Cardinals held Spring Hill for just 17 yards and kept the Broncos without a first down on the first three drives.
Powerful Spring Hill running back Dustin Smith rumbled for 59 yards on four plays on the fourth drive, his team already down 22-0. But quarterback Patrick Donahue gunned for the end zone on first-and-goal from the 10, and found Abel for an interception.
Eudora had the ensuing drive stall, however. Clarke was stuffed on a fourth-and-one from the Spring Hill 38-yard line and Kevin Miller took the next play 62 yards on a reverse for a Bronco touchdown.
Eudora marched down the field again, approaching the Spring Hill end zone with less than a minute remaining in the half, but a Swanson fumble squashed the drive.
"We really thought if we jumped on them early they might reconsider how serious they wanted to play the game," Webb said. "We got out on them 22-0, we were going to finish it -- we were going to go 30. Then we got stopped on fourth down. Then we fumbled on another play. That kept the game close."
Denied its first-half knockout, Eudora just ground away the clock in the second half. Clarke carried the ball 14 times and scored three of his touchdowns. Ryan Fisher also plowed in for a score set up by his 49-yard run.
And the defense didn't let up. Spring Hill had only four possessions in the second half and had just two first downs.
As for Clarke and his big game, Webb said he's hoping it's only a flash of what the future could hold.
"I thought he ran harder last week, but he's learning," Webb said. "There are so many things to being a good back. You have to know where you're running and where the people are going to be and where the line is going to fit and where the holes are supposed to be. Once you figure that out, you need to figure out how to run hard, and he's just figuring out how to run hard right now."