A spot in the Class 4A state semifinals will be on the line for the Eudora Cardinals when they play Paola at 7 tonight at Laws Field in Eudora.
The Cardinals (9-2) enter the sectional contest on a five-game winning streak, having run through their district to claim the district title. Most recently, they’ve earned playoff wins against De Soto and Jeff West.
Eudora’s 23-16 victory over Jeff West last Saturday gave the Cardinals their first regional championship in three years, and now all that stands in Eudora’s way of a final four is beating Paola (8-3) for the second time this season.
The two teams met in week four, and sparked by two big Reece Long kickoff returns and quarterback Evan Cleveland’s 129 yards rushing and three total touchdowns, the Cardinals won, 35-27, at Paola.
Paola features a physical offensive line and Frontier all-league running back Skylar Hawkins. Hawkins rushed for 172 yards, two rushing touchdowns and a returned a kick for a touchdown in the previous meeting.
The Cardinals are led by a strong running game that features Cleveland and running backs Boomer Mays and Chris Pyle. The Cardinals also have big-play threats in receivers Christian Richardson and Brian Katzfey on the outside.
Eudora’s physical defense has pitched four shutouts this season. Eudora’s two losses this season were against Louisburg and Gardner, and Paola’s three losses came against Eudora, Gardner and Louisburg.
Of the eight teams remaining in 4A, three (Eudora, Paola and Louisburg) are from the Frontier League. The winner of the Eudora-Paola game will play the Overland Park Miege-Louisburg winner next Friday.