Football

Jesse_Owen_Bonner_Springs_2014_09_05Eudora High Football Coach Jesse Owen (photo by Eudorareporter.com Photojournalist Julie Stewart)

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

Eudora High Head Football Coach Jesse Owen has resigned his position to become the head coach at Olathe East High School. Owen spent just one season as the Cardinal Head Coach having come from Olathe North High School where he was an assistant coach.

“This is a great place and great people,” Owen said in an exclusive interview. “But that is where my family is, my in-laws are there and this is a better situation for me and my family.”

Owen stated that he was contacted by the Olathe School District as to possible interest in becoming one of their head football coaches.

“I certainly didn’t plan on this when I came to Eudora eight months ago,” Owen said. “But you can’t control timing.  If I would have known this was going to happen, I never would have taken the job here.”

In his lone season as Eudora Head Coach, Owen compiled a 5-4 record, going 3-3 in the District.

The Olathe School District has two head coaching vacancies. Olathe North long time legendary coach and mentor to Owen, Gene Weir took an off-field position with the Kansas University football program in December. Olathe East Head Coach Jeff Meyers was fired after 29 years as Head Coach following Olathe East’s first non-winning season since 1999.

Eudora High will now have to look for it’s third new head coach in three years. Prior to Owen coming to EHS, Kevin Kopecky served for one season and resigned in March, 2014.  Attempts to reach Eudora High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Kara Kimberlin about the vacancy were unsuccessful.

Owen said he plans on continuing as a P.E. instructor at EHS through the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year.

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Downing_Griffith_Wellsville_2014_09_26Austin Downing escapes tacklers as he heads down field with Senior Seth Griffith looking to block in Eudora’s win over Wellsville Friday night (photo by Eudorareporter.com photojournalist Joe Pelzel)

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

It may have not been pretty, but style points don’t figure into putting one in the win column.  The Cardinals outlasted the Wellsville Eagles Friday night at Eudora District Stadium 19-16 to get up to .500 on the season.

Eudora did not get the win by looking good, but the defense came up big when they needed to, stopping Wellsville near the goal line many times.  Eudora got on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter when QB Austin Downing scored on a 13 yard run. The Cards went for the extra point, but a mishandled snap on the attempt left them with a 6-0 lead.

The teams went back and forth down the field in the remainder of the first half with the only highlight being Grant Elston making a short appearance at QB and punter.  Elston was injured two weeks ago in the loss to Louisburg. Elston handed the ball off several times in his return and appeared to be in the game for evaluation purposes to see how his ankle is healing.

“He’s making progress,” Head Coach Jess Owen said following the game. “We wanted to give him a couple of series.  He could have played some more, but we’re glad to have him back.”

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Travis Neis and Skyler Manley help wrap up a win over Wellsville Friday night (Photo by Eudorareporter.com Photojournalist Joe Pelzel)

The Second half started off with some excitement. The Cardinals received the opening kickoff and took the ball to their own 39. The very first offensive play following the return, Downing took off and scored a 61 yard rushing touchdown.  Eudora went for the two point conversion and couldn’t run it in giving them a 12-0 lead.

The teams went back forth in a game that saw so many yellow flags on the ground, you would have thought Dorothy and Toto were going to have a yellow road to stroll down. The unofficial count for penalties was 19 with Eudora accounting for 13 of them.

In the fourth quarter, Eudora again scored early when Downing broke off another long run, this time for 79 yards. Eudora hit the extra poitn kick and took a 19-0 lead. Wellsville then finally got into the game. Wellsville Senior Brett Osbern scored on a 21 yard run with 10:48 left. The extra point kick cut the Eudora lead to 11.  Wellsville again found the end zone when QB Cole Silsby hit Osbern with a 46 yard pass. The successful two-point conversion cut Eudora’s lead to 3 with 5:29 left.  On the ensuing drive Downing fumbled the ball right at the 50 yard line giving Wellsville hope of taking the lead, but Wellsville could not get any offense going and the Cards won by the 19-16 final.

Eudora’s defense made some key stops near the end zone on long Wellsville drives during the entire game.  The defense seemed to have a bend but don’t break style of play.

“As a whole, we obviously improved from a week ago, but we have a lot of room for improvement,” Owen said.  “We still had some bad pursuit angles, we still are dropping our heads a lot and we had just way to many missed tackles.”

Eudora will celebrate their Homecoming game next Friday night when Basehor-Linwood comes to town.  The Bobcats are 3-1 on the season with wins over Baldwin, Lansing and Turner High School. Their sole loss came against Bonner Springs, a team Eudora beat in the season opener.

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Griffith_Chumbley_Louisburg_2014_09_12Seth Griffith (21) and Ross Chumbley make a tackle during the loss to Louisburg Friday night (Photo by Eudorareporter.com photojournalist Julie Stewart) 

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

The Eudora Cardinals posted their first lost of the season in Louisburg Friday night 14-7.  The bigger loss though may have been starting quarterback Grant Elston.

Elston got Eudora on the score board first when he ran it in from the 19 yard line with about six minutes to go in the first quarter. Elston also kicked the extra point to make it 7-0. Louisburg tied up the game in the 2nd quarter when Cole Kramer scored on a 9 yard run into the end zone and Alex Dunn made the point after attempt.

The game went back and forth and early in the fourth quarter Alex Dunn scored the game winning touchdown from one yard out and hit the extra point attempt to give Louisburg the 14-7 win and drop the Cardinals to 1-1 on the season.

Elston_Louisburg_2014-09-12Grant Elston takes the ball down field in the Cardinal loss to Louisburg Friday night (Photo by Eudorareporter.com photojournalist Julie Stewart) 

Following the game, we learned that Eudora Quarterback Grant Elston was injured in the second half. Elston was hit and had his leg wrapped but played through the injury until the end of the game. According to reports, his ankle was either broken or badly sprained.  The extent of the injury was not available late Friday night.  The seriousness of the injury will be determined Saturday morning.

If Elston is unable to play, this deals a serious blow to the Cardinals as they lose their starting quarterback and place kicker. We will have more details as they become available.

Paola will come to town next Friday night to open up the Cardinals home field. Paola is 1-1 after a one point loss to Spring Hill last week and a 24-0 win over De Soto in Paola Friday night.

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Cheerleader_Bonner_Springs_2014_09_05A Eudora Cheerleader celebrates near the start of the season opener against Bonner Springs (photo by Eudorareporter.com photojournalist Joe Pelzel)

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

The Eudora Cardinals opened up their season Friday night with a 35-27 victory at Bonner Springs.  The Cardinals, under new head coach Jesse Owen, are looking to improve on the 5-4 record they posted last season.

Eudora got on the scoreboard first with a rushing touchdown late in the 1st quarter.  Bonner Springs quickly answered that with a passing touchdown just two minutes later to tie it up. Eudora then took a 7 point lead into halftime when they completed a pass for a touchdown with under a minute to go.

Jesse_Owen_Bonner_Springs_2014_09_05

Eudora Head Coach Jesse Owen preps his team for the game against Bonner Springs (photo by Eudorareporter.com photojournalist Julie Stewart)

Eudora got the ball back following halftime and went down the field scoring again, putting the Cardinals up by two touchdowns. Bonner Springs though wasn’t ready to give up.  The Braves scored two successive touchdowns with 5 minutes left to go and again found the end zone with nearly a minute left to go in the 3rd quarter to tie the game back up.

The see-saw back and forth game continued in the 4th quarter when Eudora took the ball down the field on the opening possession of the quarter for a rushing touchdown. Bonner Springs eventually worked the ball down the field and with 5 minutes left to go in the game punched one in. The game turned when Bonner Springs could not make the extra point kick and the Cardinals led the game by one.

The icing on the cake came when Eudora scored another rushing touchdown with a minute left in the game to give the Cards the victory.

Grant_Elston_Bonner_Springs_2014_09_05Grant Elston runs through the Bonner Springs tacklers on the way to a 35-27 victory over the Bonner Springs Braves (photo by Eudorareporter.com photojournalist Joe Pelzel)

The Cardinals will travel to Louisburg next Friday night to take on the Wildcats at 7:00 PM. Louisburg is also 1-0 after beating Ottawa Friday night 19-0.

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Jesse OwenNew Eudora Head Coach Jesse Owen

Eudora News and Informationwww.eudorareporter.com

In a 6-0 unanimous decision, the Eudora School Board hired Olathe North Assistant Coach Jesse Owen as their next Head Football Coach. Five of the board members were present and Board Member Joe Hurla participated in the meeting via phone.  Board Member Mark Chrislip was not in attendance.

Owen will replace Kevin Kopecky who coached a single season in Eudora and lead the team to a 5-4 season and missed the playoffs.

The move was made with some dissent by a group of parents and students who strongly supported current Assistant Coach Phil Katzenmeier.  Approximately 35 students and parents showed up to the board meeting to make known that they were in support of Katzenmeier for the job.

Added to the agenda just prior to the meeting, two students were allowed to present their position for hiring Katzenmeier as the head coach.  Sophomores Matthew Buchhorn and Trevor Neis each rose to support Katzenmeier’s promotion to the head job.

“I understand that there are times when it is the right thing to do to hire someone from out of district like when there are no other qualified personnel in the district to fill the position, but this is not the case” Buchhorn said. “Coach Katzenmeier has proved his ability and dedication to the school district and the players by his many coaching positions and in classrooms around the district.”

Neis also spoke favorably of Katzenmeier and his long association with the School District.

“Being at school for so many years, he (Katzenmeier) has created a bond between him and the player that is very important for a team,” Neis said. “Players know him and he knows the players.”

School Board President Eric Votaw did commend the students that rose to speak in favor of Katzenmeier and all those that reached out to the Board and District officials over the decision.  Votaw noted that “your voice had been heard.”

The Board then spent 45 minutes in executive session to wrestle with the issue. For comparison, a decision to hire an elementary music school instructor took all of five minutes in executive session.  The discussions that took place during these sessions are private and the public is not allowed to listen or know what precisely was said in the meetings. After the executive session, the board returned to the room to announce the hiring of Owen.

While Owen did not wish to comment on the record following the meeting, his current boss and Head Coach of the Olathe North High School team Gene Weir who also attended the meeting did talk about losing Owen to Eudora.

“This is a big loss for us,” Weir said. “I am happy to support our people and I think the Eudora School Board made a great decision in hiring Jesse.”

Eudora High School Principal G.A. Buie was excited to have Owen joining the EHS staff.

“He’s got a great passion for the kids and he has the desire to win a championship,” Buie told us.

On the topic of hiring Owen over Katzenmeier, Buie said that there was some stiff competition and many factors were weighed.

“Phil is an awesome individual, but this was a very competitive choice,” Buie said. “We had three or four Sunflower League coaches want this job and we were very fortunate to get Jesse.”  The Sunflower league is home to 12 6A schools from the Shawnee Mission, Olathe, Lawrence and Leavenworth School Districts.

Votaw in a one-on-one interview said he would not discuss the decision on one candidate over another, but stated that Owen came highly recommended.

“He was an outstanding player and coach, he’s passionate and he’s extremely well prepared. On top of that he’s a strong teacher as well,” Votaw said.

Votaw did not directly answer how much influence the showing by the students and parents had in the discussions by the board, but said he was excited to see the passion of the players, students and parents. Several board members all commented that they appreciated that the communication about the matter was always respectful and fair.

“I was about to say that we have a bunch of good kids here but that’s not true,” Board Member Mike Kelso said. “We have a bunch of good young adults here.”

We also talked to Neis following the decision by the board.

“I have nothing against the new coach. He seems like a real good coach and I am looking forward to working hard for him.  I am hoping he can lead us to a winning season.”

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