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Wildcats travel to face surprising Cardinals

The Eudora Cardinals get the Louisburg Wildcats on their home field Friday night in an important Frontier League game to see who finishes second in the League at the end of the season. That is, of course, dependent on how the Cardinals show in the Gardner-Edgerton farewell tour next week in Eudora. The Wildcats have already been a star in the tour and did not fare well last week falling by a 40-0 score at Gardner. Eudora dropped a shocker on state ranked Paola, traveling to Panther Stadium and coming away with a 35-27 victory.

WLH0042 Eudora found its offensive footing against Paola last Friday with Quarterback Evan Cleveland getting in rhythm and two huge kickoff returns by Reece Long. Every time Paola seem to get a surge, Eudora had an answer to keep them off balance.

“As the game wend on we got better and better with understanding what we could do well and what we couldn’t,” said Cardinals Head Coach Gregg Webb. “A big part of it was settling on one quarterback and letting him go. Evan Cleveland had a great game.”

Louisburg after playing Gardner, which when healthy is one of the best 5A team in Kansas, must regroup, and simply forget the dominating 40-0 beating. The Wildcats must establish they have an A game this week and create a competitive football game.

“Louisburg is good. They were good before last Friday and they will be good this Friday,” Webb said. “Getting their quarterback hurt was bad for them, they have good kids at every spot, but it shook them up on roles and responsibilities.”

The Wildcats are at a crossroads in their 2009 season and they need a win. It will be up to the players. Can they step up their game and beat an equally matched opponent? The Wildcats have the defense to do it and if they can get senior tailback Ryan Roberts lose early and score, it should give them a good chance to win.

Overall, Webb expects a tight ball game. “We’ve seen them on film and it should be a good game,” he said. “We will have to come up with a way to move the ball.”

If you throw out the Gardner game for the Wildcats, on paper this looks like a very good match up. The ‘Cats and Cardinals, in their first three games played exactly the same opponents with similar results, although the margins were not a great, both teams defeated Spring Hill, DeSoto and Ottawa, three of the weaker teams in the Frontier League. Eudora may have the upper hand to a certain extent, not necessarily by stats, but in the fact the defeated Paola, at the time ranked fourth in the state in Class 4-A on the road last week, while the ‘Cats were getting run over by the Trailblazers.

Whatever the case, this has all the makings of a great high school football game, and should be fun to watch.

Panthers face DeSoto in tough road test

The Paola Panthers may have committed the cardinal sin of football last Friday night when the fell to the Eudora Cardinals 35-27 at Panther Stadium . . . they may have let one loss beat them twice. The Panthers suffered a not so damaging loss at the hands of one of the area’s super teams, the Gardner-Edgerton Trailblazers, but the loss to the Eudora Cardinals was certainly damaging, not only to the overall perception of the Panthers by friends and foes alike, but to the ever so fragile psyche of a team that is searching at times for an identity.

WLH0026 The Panthers have a sophomore quarterback, and a superstar junior running back in Seth Kern and Skylar Hawkins, both of which have turned in monster games this season, but the Panthers as a team have yet to hit on all cylinders for a whole football game. Penalties and putting the ball on the ground plagued Paola against Baldwin, and that was followed by a bone jarring showdown with now winless Ottawa which saw Paola struggle to hold on an take home a 17-3 victory at home. Then came the trip to Gardner and the Bubba Starling show which ended with the Panthers playing pretty well on both sides of the ball, but just being out manned all over the field.

Last week, well it was hard to believe, but the Panthers just refused to put the Cardinals away. Every time the Panthers scored, the Cardinals answered, twice with long kick returns, the first, a return of over 50 yards set Eudora up with a short field and a two play drive to tie the score after Paola had taken the lead. The second came late in the third quarter, which saw Eudora’s Reece Long catch the ball (with one knee on the ground), and take off on an 80 yard jaunt to pay dirt, which also tied the score after Paola had opened an eight point lead. Compound that touchdown with an interception in Panther territory on the next series and suddenly Eudora had the lead, the momentum and ultimately the game.

Fast forward to this week . . . the Panthers must travel to DeSoto, a team sporting a 1-3 Frontier League recored after picking up their first win against Baldwin on Friday night, but also a team which owns a three game winning streak against the Panthers.

“The kids and coaches were all excited to get a win on Friday night,” said Wildcats Head Coach Tom Byers. “They have both put in a lot of work and it’s great to finally see positive results with a win for their efforts.”

Byers expects no changes on either side of the ball when the Panthers come calling on Friday Night. He still sees a team which is trying to stay in games on the defensive end and struggling at times to move the ball consistently on offense. Those points are proven on the scoreboard, as in the Wildcats last three games, the offense had produced six, six and fourteen points. Defensively the ‘Cats have given up 27, 28 and seven points. It should be pointed out DeSoto will have played the four top teams in the Frontier League following the game against Paola. The Wildcats were not “blown out” by Eudora or Louisburg, losing 27-6 and 28-6, but the ‘Cats struggled against 0-4 Baldwin, winning just 14-7.

“The keys this week will be to establish on offensive rhythm by moving the ball down field and finding a way to score,” Byers said. “Defensively, we’ll have to play great fundamentally, limit the big plays, and try not to let Paola control the football.”

That may be a problem for the Wildcats, because the Panthers have been quite content in grinding it out on the ground and holding on to the football. Although the Panthers are quite content to let Hawkins loose around the end and watch him run. The key for Paola will be to put aside the last two games, and the fact that DeSoto has had their number the last few years, and play Panther football.

“Paola is a sold football program, and definitely respected by our players and coaches,” Byers said. We will have our hands full this year with the Panthers.”

Trojans to face Wellsville in Homecoming game

The Osawatomie Trojans and the Wellsville Eagles will face off in a Homecoming match-up at Lynn Dickey Field in Osawatomie that will for all practical purposes decide the Pioneer League cham

pionship. The Trojans come into this game sporting a 4-0 overall record and a 2-0 Pioneer League record and are coming off a 47-0 whitewashing of the Jayhawk Linn Jayhawks last Friday. The Eagles are flying high too, sporting a 3-1 overall record, but are also undefeated in the Pioneer League at 3-0. A win by the Trojans all but seals the deal for them as their two remaining league games are against Central Heights and Prairie View, both winless in the league this year. The Eagles must still face Anderson County, which has lost only to the Trojans in the league this season.

Passinggame The Trojans and Eagles so far have only one common opponent, Jayhawk Linn, and the two teams were victorious by nearly identical scores, 47-0 for Oz and 46-0 for Wellsville.

Osawatomie features a balanced attack, averaging 119 yards per game passing and 197 yards per game rushing. Seth Jones leads the Trojan attack, hitting on 43 of 85 attempts passing for 458 yards on the season with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. By far his favorite target on the season is Brandon Oakes, who has caught 15 passes for 193 yards and a nearly 13 yard per catch average and five touchdowns. Dylon Needham and Hunter Taylor are Jones’ other favorite targets grabbing eight and nine passes along with two and one touchdowns on the season respectively. Taylor’s nine catches have netted him 137 yards and a little over 15 yards per catch on the season. In all eight players have caught passes and five have tallied touchdowns for the Trojans this year.

On the rushing side, the Trojans are lead by Jameson Greenwood with 84 carries for 651 yards on the season. Greenwood is averaging nearly eight yards per carry and 217 yards per game with seven touchdowns this year. Oakes and Trever Stroud have scored the other rushing touchdowns for the Trojans this year.

Defensively, Andy French and Brant Johnson continued to lead the team in tackles and assists with 37 and 28 respectively. Ryan Warner has 25 total tackles, Jedd Froggatte has 24 total tackles and Hunter Taylor has 22 total tackles on the season.

On Special Teams, Greenwood is averaging over 31 yards per kick off return with a long of 95 yards and a touchdown.

Trojan Head Coach Clint Bailey is confident his team will not get too caught up in the festivities of Homecoming and doesn’t feel like any changes is preparation will be necessary. “We really don’t plan on changing anything,” Bailey said. “We know this is a big game, and the team really wants to win the league.”

Bailey does see a challenge coming from the Eagles though, as they look like a team that possess weapons. “They have a really good backfield with hard runners and good speed,” Bailey said. “We must stop their running game and force the to throw the ball.”

As is generally the case when two evenly matched teams play each other, this game could be decided by special teams, penalties and turnovers. The Trojans possess a special team weapon in Jameson Greenwood, but Bailey expects special teams to play a big part in who wins this game.

“I think special teams could be an important factor,” Bailey said. “Along with penalties, which seem to be a hindrance to us right now.”

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