Wildcats look to hunt down Stags
Good football teams, which Louisburg is, should want to play the best in their class and that may be the case this Saturday night at Wildcat Stadium. Kansas City's Bishop Miege (which is playing at the 5A level in all sports except football in 2009-2010), new to the scene at this time of year could be a team to win it all in 2009. But they have to play the Wildcats Saturday night to prove it.
Bishop Meige 9-2 comes to Louisburg 10-1 for a show down to see who advances to next weeks sub-state game. Each team has had the opportunity to play teams in class 5A this year that were better than they were, Meige's 27-7 loss to Blue Valley Northwest and 18-10 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas 18-10. The Wildcats loss to Class 5A Gardner-Edgerton, playing without Bubba Starling, put both teams on notice that quantity usually equals quality.
Coach Tim Grunhard brings a big, talented Miege team for the Wildcats to test their claws. Bishop Miege has three O-lineman at 360lbs, 305lbs and 265lbs. They run a balanced pro-set usually with a fullback and tight end.They have two D-1 receivers, Justin McCay (21 catches, 417 yards & four touchdowns) committed to Oklahoma and another Releford brother,
(Trevor, 9 catches for 168 yards and two T.D.s) who may be headed to Alabama to play basketball. In beating traditional power Holton last week, Coach Grunhard said they came out in the second half, ran right at them and just wore them down. Not bad for beating a perennial 10-0 team at this juncture of the season.
The Wildcats did not face that kind of opponent last week in defeating Columbus, where they held the potent Titan offense, which had been averaging approximately 450 yards of offense per game, to about 150 yds. In fact, it could be said the Louisburg offense did the similar thing to the Titans in the second half by running right at them and ultimately wore Columbus down.
It appears to be a defensive struggle for Bishop Miege and Louisburg. Both teams need to be creative in their defensive schemes. A vanilla defensive set by either team could create a situation of "running right at them and wearing them down". The Wildcats defense has been especially effective all year and neither team wants to get into a circumstance of being on the field against long, sustained drives.
If Miege comes with an eight man front, similar to Gardner, the Wildcats will need to find a way to back the Stags off if they are going to move the ball and score. Bishop Miege is to be respected, but not feared. It is a great opportunity for the Wildcats to "amp up their game", at home, win the contest and prove they are capable of beating a worthy opponent as they have only faced a couple this year. Then 11-1 will sound good!
Panthers get rematch with Cardinals
The Paola Panthers will travel to Eudora Friday night to take on the Cardinals in a Kansas Class 4A Sectional championship game, which will feature a rematch of Frontier League teams. The two squads matched up in week four of the season in Paola, with the Cardinals stealing a road victory and handing the Panthers their first loss of the season by a 35-27 count.
The week four matchup was one the Panthers have to look back on as “one that got away”, as they watched the Cardinals use two huge special teams plays catapult themselves to a road win that ultimately gave them third place in the Frontier league. At that juncture of the season, Eudora had faced and defeated arguably three of the weaker teams in the league, and were facing a stretch of games against the pre-season favorites in the league, Gardner, Louisburg and Paola.
At the time, Cardinals Head Coach Gregg Webb said his team was “struggling for an identity” and that stretch of games would define the Cardinals season, as they were facing the very real prospect of hitting week six at 3-3. Of course, Eudora didn’t drop all three games, in fact, after opening with the surprising victory over the Panthers, the Cardinals followed it up with close losses to Louisburg and Gardner. But the three game stretch did help define the Cardinals as a team, and help them begin to find an identity.
“It for sure toughened us up and showed us we could play with some good teams. I was very disappointed in our performance against Louisburg. I thought we would play better and should have won that game,” Webb said. “Gardner is Gardner and I thought our kids played hard – but thought we could have given them an even closer game than we did. Not that we could have beat them, but thought we for sure should have scored.”
The Cardinals settled down after those two losses and have run off a string of five straight wins, although four of the five victories have come against less than stellar competition, those coming against Perry-Lecompton (2-7), Santa Fe Trail (0-9), Baldwin (2-8 including 0-6 in the Frontier League) and a 28-0 re-match win over DeSoto (which was a nearly identical score from the Cardinals week two win of 27-6). The Cardinals lone victory over a team with a winning record was last week’s regional championship win over Jefferson West with a 7-4 record.
Prior to the Cardinals first matchup with the Panthers, Coach Webb was concerned about his offense, but with the help of Senior Evan Clevaland, the Cardinals have become better on offense.
“We have become a good offensive team. We’ve found that identity through Evan Cleveland,” Webb said. “He is our leader and has put this team on his back. We can throw it a little bit and run it OK. I know what we can do and our team now knows what we do well.”
Defensively, the Cardinals have been stingy, at least in games against teams they were superior to, giving up just 34 points and pitching four shutouts against teams of lesser talent and records. Against teams with winning records, the Cardinals are 2-2, and have given up 97 points in those four games. But overall, Webb is pleased with his defense.
“Our defense has been really good. Not great against Jeff West (they were 7-3 coming in) – but good enough against the run to win.” Webb said “Our D. line has been good and not getting knocked off the ball. And then Boomer Mays leads our team in tackles in the middle.”
Webb realizes his team will be need to be at it’s best to stop the Panthers high powered attack, which features Skylar Hawkins and Tyler Henness both of which are capable of running for over 100 yards per game and both have break-away speed and the ability to go the distance each time they touch the ball. The Panthers have seen both go over 100 yards in the same game two or three times this season. At the same time, both runners are comfortable taking the ball between the tackles and getting the tough yards up the middle. Sophomore Quarterback Seth Kern has become more comfortable running the offense, and with the exception of the Louisburg game (which was played in a quagmire), as demonstrated a more than adequate ability to manage the game, and compliment the Panthers one - two running attack.
“We have to be able to stop the run obviously,” Webb said. “The Panthers are very physical and big up front, our D-Line will have to play extremely well. On offense we have to take care of the ball and keep it out of there hands.”
If there’s one thing playing into the Panthers hands, is the unusual statistic that the Cardinals two losses this season have come on their home turf. Eudora is undefeated on the road (6-0) but just 3-2 at home. The Panthers have played well on the road, but have suffered two of their three losses on their opponents field, falling at Gardner and at Louisburg, in district play, the Panthers traveled to and handily defeated a highly rated Chanute team 48-14.
The Panthers will be looking for pay back and the Cardinals will be looking to move on. The one certain thing about this game is the Frontier League is assured of having one team in the Sub-State championship game, and if Louisburg can produce a win in their game against Bishop Miege, then the league will be assured of having a team play for the state championship in two weeks in Salina.