Short-handed Cyclones battle Eudora

Greg Mast

The Ottawa High School football players play with so much effort.

The Cyclones were faced with playing shorthanded this past Friday against Eudora at Steve Grogan Stadium. Ottawa was limited to 18 players because of COVID-19 safety precautions.

Earlier in the week, a Bonner Springs junior varsity player tested positive for the virus. All the Ottawa players that participated in Monday’s JV game were placed in quarantine for two weeks.

“I am happy to go to battle with these kids,” Ottawa coach Rob Hedrick said. “I would go to battle with these kids against anybody.”

The Cyclones gave Eudora everything it could handle in the 29-3 loss.

“I am very disappointed that we did not win,” Hedrick said. “I enjoyed the battle. I enjoyed the plays they did make and the effort.

We want to win so bad. The boys deserve to win.”

The coaching staff scrambled to put the players in the right positions.

“With only 18 kids, we had kids playing new positions,” Hedrick said. “We have a young man that has not played cornerback ever. He was right there to make a play [late]. He barely missed it. That was the product of the situation. We had kids like that all over the field. They played hard.”

Despite the score, Ottawa was in position to win the game.

“We are 10 times better than we were to begin the season,” Hedrick said. “The offensive changes have paid off. The defense battled.

“We had every opportunity to score and win this game. We did not make the plays (needed). We did not close drives.”

Ottawa twice turned the ball over on downs inside the 5-yard line and missed a field goal at the end of the first half.

“When you can’t score inside the 5-yard line, that is all on us,” Hedrick said. “That is twice inside the 5 we did not score. We missed other opportunities to make plays.”

Ottawa killed drives with penalties, especially in the first half.

“We were moving the ball then the penalties,” Hedrick said. “They just killed us.”

Ottawa took the opening kickoff and drove down the field. The seven-minute drive stalled. Kicker Reese Fogle nailed a 33-yard field goal to give Ottawa a 3-0 lead.

Eudora owned the rest of the half, scoring on three drives, two on big plays.

Ottawa took it to Eudora in the second half, forcing three straight turnovers.

“They did a lot of good things,” Hedrick said. “We have to finish. The O-line is playing really, really well. The O-line is getting it done. Aaron Clevenger looked good getting up there behind them. We attacked them on the edge a little bit. If we make one little play here or there, we are right where we want to be.”

Hedrick said Ottawa is close to playing at a winning level.

“If we cut out the mistakes and finish, we are going to beat Louisburg (on Friday),” Hedrick said. “If we play a clean game, we will have a chance to win that game. We can play with anybody right now.

“The kids will be better at playing both sides of the ball. We will be able to move kids around a little more. We will go to Louisburg confident and expecting to win.”