An Ottawa win keeps the Cyclones in the hunt and a Eudora win clinches a spot in the 4A bracket. The two teams play 7 p.m. Friday in Eudora.
“It is do or die,” Ottawa coach Rob Hedrick said. “It is a big moment. It is like a big exam. We are looking forward to it. The kids are excited about the opportunity.”
One of the Ottawa goals was to end a decade-long drought of not making the playoffs.
“We feel good about where we are at,” Hedrick said. “The boys are confident. They will put their best foot forward. They are mentally strong.”
The Cyclones (3-4, 0-1) have put the 61-0 loss to Baldwin behind them.
“We can’t get into the situation where we are playing catch up and try to do too many things,” Hedrick said. “We knew we had to make big plays against Baldwin and take chances.”
Eudora (5-2, 1-0) is a different team than a couple of games ago as the Cardinals are fighting injuries. The big one was a season-ending injury to senior quarterback Andrew Ballock.
“They still have [Mitchell] Ballock. You know they will throw the ball to him and he will make plays. Ballock can take a short pass and take it to the house. Everybody we have played in the league had somebody like that.”
Both offenses have struggled a bit this season. Ottawa has been inconsistent all season on offense.
“It will come down to third down and fourth down conversions,” Hedrick said. “Same story every week. We have not been good enough to recover from penalties and negative plays.
“We need to score and keep the ball offensively so the defense doesn’t have to come up with a turnover. Special teams don’t have to come up with scores for us to be in position to win.”
Hedrick warns that Ottawa can’t take too much from Eudora’s 14-13 win over Santa Fe Trail last week.
“Sante Fe Trail has played everybody tight,” he said. “Eudora is going through some injuries. It was one of those nights. It was the first cold night.
“You have to play really well or they will pop the big play on you. They have not had a large amount of big plays.”
Ottawa comes into the game with a strong belief.
“We are a team that can play with them and beat them,” Hedrick said. “I like our chances. They have something on their side, they are used to winning. That is a big thing especially in a tight game.”
Both teams have done well in crucial situations. Ottawa and Eudora have won close battles.
“These boys have never folded,” Hedrick said. “We have been in tight games this year and always come through.
“If we give ourselves a chance to win, these guys respond very well. It comes down to the seniors and leadership they provide.”
Hedrick said it will come down to old-fashioned football.
“It will come down to running the ball,” Hedrick said. “It comes down to kids making plays. We don’t have that many plays this week we are going to run that consist of down the field passing. We are going to run the ball at them. We will take our shots.
“We need to play a clean game and be solid and we will have a chance. I am anxious for it. We will be ready.”