Now 2-0, Cardinals to open home slate with homecoming
Believing you are going to beat a team is one thing, but going there and actually doing it is a completely different story. The Eudora High School football team found that out the hard way as it struggled through nearly three quarters before three unanswered touchdowns lifted the team to a 30-13 win over Central Heights on Friday.
"I was disappointed in the way that we played the first half," Eudora football coach Gregg Webb said. "It's one of those games where we didn't practice very well all week. Everybody is saying we are going to beat them by 50 points and then our kids start believing that. Our preparation was kind of weak. Then we come out and I thought that if we would have taken the first drive and stuffed it down their throat and scored, then it would have been a little different game. But we fumbled the first drive and then they get some momentum.
"Then it turns into a ball game."
The Cardinals, who improved to 2-0 on the season, now set their sights on the Wellsville Eagles, who comes to town Friday for the annual Homecoming game.
It is the one week of the season that football coaches worry about most.
"That's always a concern about Homecoming," Webb said. "You could make an excuse every week about something. There is always something going on. I want them to enjoy the week. I don't want to take the fun out of the week for them. I think we will be ready.
"After last week, our kids realize that we can't go into any game half-hearted. They really need to come out and play because we had so many mistakes, both mentally and physically."
One of the biggest things Webb is hoping will change will be the turnovers. Eudora lost the handle on the ball four different times, losing three of those to the Vikings.
"We don't punt in the game and we have six points at half time and I think we had almost 200 yards rushing," Webb said. "We were doing just some silly things with penalties and turnovers and that killed drives."
It was a fumble-fest early as both teams in their first possession ran just two plays before coughing up the football. The Cardinals were able to capitalize on their second possession as Travis Clarke broke through for a 3-yard score to make the score 6-0. It was a reoccurring theme for Clarke, who would hear his named called again.
The two teams struggled through much of the second quarter. It was the Vikings, however, who were able finally to put the ball in the end zone as Jordan Welch hit Aaron Schaefer with a 23-yard pass to tie the score 6-6.
Things didn't get much better for Eudora in the second half. After forcing Central Heights into a three-and-out and a punting situation, Eudora was set to have solid field position.
However, Seth Divine's punt bounced off of a Cardinal blocker and right into a Central Heights player's hands returning the possession back to the Vikings. Eight plays later, Welch connected for his second touchdown pass, this time to Vince Croci and the Vikings went up 13-6.
Eudora needed an answer and they got one. After a spectacular 70-yard return by the Cardinals' Evan Cleveland to put the ball on the 18-yard line, it took Clarke just two more plays to make his way into the end zone for his second score of the game. After he added the two-point conversion as well, the score was now 14-13.
"The quarterback scrambles around and then they run a few plays that were pretty successful and then before you know it, you are down 13-6 and your kids are either going to cry about it or they are going to play," Webb said. "We got a nice return that always helps and the we kind of just decided to beat them up a little bit."
Things went well from there as Clarke pounded in two more scoring runs of five and four yards to account for all four EHS touchdowns in the game. He finished with 198 yards on 35 carries to make up well over half of the team's 321 yards of total offense in the game.
"Travis carried the ball too many times, really," Webb said. "He could have and should have ran better. He had gains of 10, but if he is accelerates through the hole, they would have been gains of 20. But, he sees that on film and he's working at it. We're working at it. He's a good back and he'll get better.
"When it counts, he'll stick his nose in there."
As for the upcoming game against Wellsville, the only question that still looms is the return of senior receiver Matthew Abel. After injuring his elbow during the Osawatomie game, Abel has yet to get back up to full speed in practice.
"Matthew is still the one that is getting treatment," Webb said. "He is day-to-day. We hope to have him for some action on Friday, but we don't want to get him hurt in game three. We would rather save him for when we really need him, which is game six. But he wants to play, so we will see what we can do. We will do everything we can to get him in to play."