De Soto As evenly matched as the De Soto-Eudora football showdown looks on paper, the only sure winners appear to be the fans.
If both squads are as good as billed, then at 7 tonight one doozy of a game should take place at De Soto High's stadium. That's when the Wildcats, the No. 2-ranked team in the area, play host to the Cardinals, the area's top-ranked team.
Both squads are 4-1. Both have offenses that can light up the scoreboard in a jiffy. Both boast defenses that are tough enough to lock down a maximum-security prison.
Oh yeah, first place in the small-schools division of the Frontier League is at stake, too.
"To be able to play a game late in the season where they're No. 1 and we're No. 2, it's very big for us," De Soto coach Brad Scott said. "To be in a situation like this, it's going to be a very big gauge to see how far our program has come."
Scott knows Eudora is a key measuring stick -- the Cardinals have defeated De Soto six straight seasons. The last four setbacks came in the first round of regionals, including a 28-19 road loss in 2003 that began the Wildcats' three-game losing skid after starting the year 5-1.
De Soto's defense has allowed just 32 points all year -- an remarkable average of 6.5 points per game -- and posted two shutouts, while the offense has had the lone hitch. After scoring 25 or more points in each of their first four games, the Wildcats reached the end zone only once last week in a 10-7 overtime loss at Anderson County.
"Last week opened our eyes that we're not the kind of team that can overlook anybody," Scott said.
They certainly can't take anything for granted against Eudora.
The Cardinals average almost 38 points per game, and their defense has three shutouts to its credit. Their lone blemish was a 38-17 loss at Osawatomie in week two, but that was when numerous key players were injured.
Eudora is at full strength now and has scored 48 or more points in each of its last three games behind the steady play of quarterback Kyle Brouhard, big-play receiver Joe Kaup and a trio of speedy running backs.
Scott said he was anticipating one heck of a good ballgame.
"They have a great program and great tradition, and coach (Greg) Webb has done a great job with them, but we've always played very good against them," Scott said. "Anytime you have two evenly matched teams, the game usually comes down to one or two things"