It’s been an unpredictable coaching carousel for Eudora High School football player Grant Elston and his fellow seniors during their career.
But the Cardinals seem to have found the right puzzle piece in first-year coach Phil Katzenmeier.
“We finally got the guy we want and that we have been pushing for,” said Elston. “Everyone’s bought into it, and we’ve had a different attitude since he was hired.”
You see, Katzenmeier, who also coaches track and has a senior son at Eudora High School, has applied for the head coaching job four times during his 17 seasons as an assistant coach on the Cardinals’ football team. For players such as Elston, he is the Cardinals’ fourth coach in four years.
Elston and some of his teammates went to bat for Katzenmeier in school board meetings. Now, Katzenmeier has grown into much more than a coach to his Eudora players.
“He is like a father figure to a lot us,” Elston said.
“Everyone looks up to him because of his attitude on everything, from the weight room to the field and just being a good person. We feed off of him.”
Eudora has an 8-3 record entering Friday’s Kansas Class 4A Division I state semifinal home game against Bishop Miege. Eudora last week defeated Basehor-Linwood, 60-59, in double-overtime.
Katzenmeier’s leadership has proved beneficial for Elston, who has rushed for 2,062 yards in 240 carries, with 28 touchdowns. Teammate Austin Downing has rushed for 854 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Elston and Tanner Beebe pace the Eudora defense, with 115 and 114 tackles, respectively.
“There have been a lot of times that it hasn’t felt like my first year,” Katzenmeier said. “I am so familiar with the staff and the kids, so it didn’t feel like a brand new thing. I think it felt that way for the kids, too, and that is a big reason why they supported me.”