Back on track
Win against Santa Fe Trail has Cards back in playoff hunt
This particular team of Cardinals is not done flying just yet.
After surrendering an early touchdown, the Eudora Cardinals roared back with 21 unanswered points in the first half on their way to a 42-6 blowout win over the Santa Fe Trail Chargers last Friday night.
Snapping a four-game losing streak, the blowout victory over the Chargers keeps Eudora (3-5) in the playoff hunt with an even district record of 1-1.
“Our guys needed that,” Eudora coach Gregg Webb said. “They really did.”
The Cardinals opened the game with a drive into Chargers’ territory before stalling at the two-yard line. The Chargers seized the opportunity and marched down the field right through the Cardinals defense for the first score of the evening.
“Our issue is our defense,” Webb said. “The whole year, it’s been the defense.
“We let them go 98 yards for a touchdown and our kids have their heads done wondering ‘what in the world?’ We just cannot tackle. We are so poor at tackling.”
Eudora’s offense came to the rescue on the ensuing possession with a 34-yard slash and run from senior fullback William Gadberry that landed at the one-yard line. The Cardinals capped the drive with a one-yard scoring burst from senior running back Ryan Fisher.
“I figured we could move the ball pretty good but you never know,” said Webb. “The ball bounces pretty crazy sometimes.
“When we were able to get that first score and go ahead, it was a big deal and it gave our kids a little confidence.”
Fisher found the end zone again in the second quarter on another one-yard plunge and was on his way to a big night along with the rest of Eudora’s rushing attack. He credited the Cardinals’ offensive line for his continued success on the ground, specifically the left side with senior Cody Carlson and junior Colton Lynch.
“I love running to their side,” Fisher said. “They’re such big guys and are really good blockers, too.”
Fisher would end his evening early, taken out of the game for rest after amassing 227 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters of work. He padded his standout game with a two-point conversion late in the first half.
Junior Evan Cleveland got in on the action as well with a 101-yard performance on nine carries. He scored on a 33-yard touchdown that ended with the speedy quarterback diving for the right pylon and the score.
To round out the Cardinals’ stable of runners, Gadberry finished with 87 yards on just six carries.
In the second half, Eudora doubled its earlier 21-point outburst running up and down the field against a floundering Chargers defense.
As a team, Eudora finished with 437 yards total on the ground and had six rushing touchdowns. But the most interesting run of the night, perhaps, came from offensive lineman Carlson late in the game.
Carlson lined up in the backfield on a third-down play in the fourth quarter after hounding the coaching staff for a shot at running the ball. His five-yard rumble and stumble was good for a Eudora first down.
“I just had to beg at them,” Carlson said. “I kind of badgered him (coach Webb) and it paid off. I’d rather stick to blocking. “I’ll let Ryan (Fisher) do all the running.”
Fisher was also entertained by the sight of his main blocker crashing through the line.
“That was the highlight of my night,” said Fisher. “That was so funny.”
Eudora is aware that its next challenge will not be as easy as it might have been against Santa Fe Trail. Webb discussed the Cardinals next opponent, local rival Baldwin, who visits Eudora at 7 p.m. Thursday at Laws Field.
“The bad news is that they have some players that can run really well and they have some big kids up there,” Webb said. “And they have a really talented tailback that will touch the ball about 30 times. We’re going to have to finish plays.”
Eudora will use this past week’s success for confidence against Baldwin. If the Cardinals win by eight points, they will advance to the playoffs. If the Cardinals win by 10 points, they will be district champions and play at home Tuesday night.
“We’re not done,” said Webb. “We’ve still got a shot. We get Baldwin at home and anything can happen.
“If you would have asked me three weeks ago if we had a shot I would have said I’m not sure. It’s going to be up to us whether we can get it done or not.”