Eudora Linebacker Markis Hill makes sure Piper Running Back Matt McDonald goes nowhere (Photo by Photojournalist Julie Stewart)

Eudora News and

The Eudora Cardinals are headed back to the state championship. The Cards beat the Piper Pirates 21-7 on Friday night at Eudora District Stadium.

This was definitely not a style points type game. The Cards defense is what kept them in the game and gave them the victory.

The Cards got on the board first with 5:03 left in the first quarter when Gabe Cleveland scored on a two yard run.  While it was hard to tell if the extra point attempt was a planned fake or just a miscommunication with the players, the conversion was no good.

Eudora tried to add to their lead with a 40 yard field goal attempt in the 2nd quarter, but the ball hit off the right upright and bounced straight down in front of the crossbar and was no good.  Piper took the lead later in the quarter when, with 5:08 left in the half, Senior quarterback Tanner Eikenbary threw a 39 yard touchdown pass to Senior Sean Eskina.  Piper’s kicker gave them a 7-6 lead.

Eudora wasn’t done  in the first half though.  Late in the 2nd Quarter, Eudora Sophomore Sklyar Manley recovered a Piper fumble on the Cardinal 48 yard line.  With the offense running a two minute drill type offense, the Cardinals moved the ball down the field, propelled by a 32 yard pass from quarterback Andrew Ballock to wide receiver Mason Tomlinson.  Cleveland was able to punch the ball across the goal line as time expired in the half.  With Ballock able to convert on a run, the Cardinals took a 14-7 lead into the half and never looked back.

The Cards padded their lead in the third quarter when Ballock scored on a 4 yard run with 6:24 left.

Eudora’s Nick Becker stops Piper QB Tanner Eikenbary from passing down field in the sub state championship game Friday night in Eudora (Photo by Photojournalist Julie Stewart)

Defense was the name of the game all night though. Both teams were not letting any plays or scores.

“Our defense was unbelievable and played lights out and gave our offense a bunch of chances,” Coach Gregg Webb said.

Now the team must focus on the next and final task of the season: taking on the Holton Wildcats.

“For this bunch to play in two state championships is an awesome feeling. They probably don’t understand what they’ve done here, ” Webb said.  “4A is the toughest division to try to make it in because there is such a discrepancy in population and classifications. And for us, a middle of the road 4A school to make it two years in a row is a real testament to the kids and our program.”

Andrew Ballock when asked about returning to the state championship, said that he thinks the team will be prepared.

“Last year no one knew what to think about anything.  This year we all know what’s going on..we just gotta do what we do,” Ballock told us.

The team celebrates their return to the state championship with Running Back Gabe Cleveland hoisting the trophy (Photo by Photojournalist Julie Stewart)

The Holton Wildcats are 13-0 this season behind a high powered offense.  Their lowest scoring game this season was 27 points against Hayden High School from Topeka. The team averages 46 points a game. On the reverse side, The Cards  give up only 7 points per game on average.

The match-up of a high powered offense from Holton and the high powered defense of Eudora will give a wild showdown on the plains next week.

The 4a State championship will be played at Salina Central High School Stadium at 1:00 PM Saturday.  We will keep you updated through the week with all the activities leading up to the State Championship and provide information on how you can get tickets and where you can listen to the game on the web if you can’t make the trip west.

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