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Cardinals Defies Odds On Road To State

by Chad Mullen The Eudora Cardinals came into the season facing expectations not as high as previous years from fans and players alike. Little did they know the team would make history, winning 12 games and going to the State Championship for the first time in school history. “I knew we would be a good team, but didn’t know we would be as good as we’ve been,” said soph. Andrew Ballock. How exactly did they put themselves into this position? For one, their defense was terrific, allowing only 11.4 points per game. Ballock commented on the defense’s success, saying, “As a team, we’ve been playing hard and doing the little things.” The defense forced 23 turnovers throughout the season, seven of which can be attributed to the younger Ballock brother, who is also the team’s leading receiver. He finished the season with six interceptions and a forced fumble, all despite missing four games with a fractured ankle. “It feels good to be back on the field with my teammates, and winning games," said Ballock before the Sub-State game against Paola. The offense was impressive, too. With the running game led by senior tailback Chris Pyle, the Cardinals averaged 310 yards per game on the ground. Pyle himself has gained 1,801 yards, including a mind-blowing 416 yard effort against Ottawa. The outstanding running back, however, would not take credit for his success, saying, “The offensive line has been a huge part of our running game.” The season started with a win over the defending 4-A State Champions, Louisburg, which appeared to spark the momentum that carried the team to almost unprecedented heights. Their next game against Saint James Academy was a disaster, as Eudora turned the ball over five times en route to a 17-13 loss.

Even though it photo by Jocelyn Medrano was their only loss of the regular season, it appeared to change the attitude of the team. “There was definitely a change in attitude,” said Matthew Gadberry, the team’s middle linebacker and leading tackle. “We realized we had to be more aggressive, myself included.” The Cardinals then steam-rolled through the rest of their opponents, outscoring them 186-56 through their next six games to earn a spot in the 4-A playoff bracket. The playoffs turned out to be especially exciting, starting with a 12-0 victory over the DeSoto Wildcats at home. The next two games were tough road battles, facing BasehorLinwood in the second round and Chanute in the third. The Bobcats proved to be a challenge, as the Cardinals came back from a fourth quarter deficit, winning 28-21. The Sectional round against the Chanute Bobcats was also a nail-biter, coming down to the final Chanute possession, with the Cardinals coming away with a 20-13 victory. Their next game, the SubState Championship, was a match up against Paola, whom they defeated 18-10 earlier in the season. The Panthers provided another close one, but the Cardinals sweated out a 13-10 win to advance to the championship game in Salina, facing the Rose Hill Rockets. This is the first time in school history the Cardinals made it to the state championship game in football, and throughout the season, the town as whole rallied around the team, and the players were aware of this. “The fans have been great. We really love and appreciate the school spirit the students have shown,” said sr. Chris Pyle. Although the season ended in disappointment when they lost to Rose Hill, the 2011 Cardinals team will go down as one of the toughest and grittiest Eudora High School has ever seen.

Football Season Historic in More Ways Than One Another story line to the fairy tale season of the Eudora football team was the relationship between head coach Gregg Webb and starting quarterback Derek Webb. by Staff Writer Read full article on Page 17

Sports // page 9

The Cardinal Issue 2  

December 2011