9-0 is Cards’ new goal
It may be easy to assume Eudora overcame its toughest district challenge Friday as it traveled to De Soto for a 26-15 win. The win assured the Cardinals a spot in the postseason, so its all easy now, right?
Anyone harboring that dangerous thought need keep just one thing in mind: Eudora may be in, but Baldwin's only chance lies in beating Eudora, a feat the Bulldogs would no doubt take joy in regardless of the postseason implications.
"They have a real good chance to ruin an awfully good year for us," Eudora coach Gregg Webb said.
Eudora has been here before. The Cardinals were 8-0 and cruising when they traveled to wrap up district play at Baldwin a year ago. Eudora lost, however, and the Cards were never the same.
Perfect before the trip, a banged up Eudora squad limped into the postseason and lost its first game, falling at Louisburg, 44-30.
Eudora is currently the only 2-0 team in its four-team district and has the best chance of capturing the district championship. The Cardinals aren't assured of wrapping the title up, but they can only lose it if they lose to Baldwin and De Soto loses to Spring Hill.
That makes things easy, Webb said -- just win, and the details are meaningless.
Baldwin has been down this year and is just 4-4 after an overtime win Friday against Spring Hill, but that shouldn't make a different, Webb said.
make a difference, Webb said.
"Our kids don't forget that stuff," he said of his team's frustrations against Baldwin. "They always play us tough. I don't care (what their record is) -- it'll be a dogfight.
That was the attitude Eudora had Friday as it traveled to De Soto. The Cardinals rode an experienced offensive line and a powerful running game to a 7-0 record for the second-straight year, and when the stakes got high in Friday's showdown at the Frontier League rival, the Cardinals didn't hesitate to continue that ride.
Travis Clarke squirted through a gap to turn a fourth-and-seven hole into a 17-yard touchdown run to put the Cardinals, 8-0, on the board. Eudora then added three touchdowns in the second half to hold off an upset-minded Wildcat squad, 26-15.
"We were very fortunate to win," Webb said. "De Soto has shown it's a good football team, so I thought they would give us problems."
De Soto lost its fourth game of the season, but in all but one the Cats held a lead at halftime. The trend proved true again against Eudora.
The Wildcats marched 11 plays and 73 yards in the first quarter and De Soto quarterback Jake Morse connected with Erik Hill for a 20-yard touchdown with five minutes, 34 seconds remaining to give the Cats an early 7-0 lead.
De Soto, 4-4, almost made that lead even larger at the end of the second quarter. Clarke scored his touchdown to pull Eudora to within 7-6, but De Soto's J.T. Thompson forced a fumble with 28 seconds remaining in the half. Five plays and 21 seconds later, the Cats were knocking on the door and threatening to put Eudora down two scores.
The Cardinal defense stiffened, however, holding the Cats at the one-yard line on two up-the-gut runs. Time expired and De Soto likely lost its best chance to pull the upset.
"That was probably the play of the game right there," De Soto coach Brad Scott said. "We were very fortunate to get out of the half down only 7-6," Webb added. "That stop was huge. That gave us momentum into the second half."
The change in momentum didn't result in an immediate change in the score, however. A sharp wind and a strong Cardinal defense kept the game in De Soto territory and the Cats stopped a Eudora drive at the five. But Eudora quarterback Kent Swanson connected with Matthew Abel for a 16-yard go-ahead touchdown with 1:01 remaining in the third.
Swanson found Abel again midway through the fourth, this time from 12 yards, and Eudora took an insurmountable 20-7 lead.
"Their kids aren't very big, but boy they play hard," Webb said. "Now we have a chance to outdo our best season ever. We were 8-0 last year and we're hoping to build on that now."