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Beechwood ends Eminence’s 2009 season

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By Tommie Kendall

One week after earning the school’s first football playoff victory, the Eminence Warriors ended their 2009 campaign with a huge 58-0 loss against powerhouse Beechwood on Friday night in the second round of the Class A State Playoffs.

Beechwood has been the most dominant team in the smallest class in Kentucky during the last decade, winning the last two state championships, four of the last 10, 10 of the last 18 and 11 total. Beechwood scored on its opening drive, was ahead 44-0 at the half and cruised in for the unchallenged win to advance to the quarterfinals against Bellevue this Friday night. Meanwhile, Eminence defeated Ludlow the week before to celebrate the school’s first 11-man playoff victory, then finished its season at 8-4 with the Beechwood loss.

Eminence’s coach, Steve Frommeyer, calls Beechwood possibly the best high school team he has played since he headed the Eminence coaching staff in 1984. Beechwood is well coached, and the players are very competitive and are used to playing at a high level, he said.

“We obviously didn’t play well but we were in a little over our heads,” Frommeyer said. “Mostly, it was just Beechwood being so dominant. They execute extremely well. By far the best team we’ve played this year. I never remember facing a team that has every aspect of the game totally down: kicking, defense, offense. They execute everything.”

Another factor in the lopsided outcome could have been under the players feet. Eminence has played in sloppy field conditions during most of the 2009 season, particularly in the closing weeks, with rainy Fridays leaving behind muddy football fields. Beechwood plays on an artificial field, which left the Warriors a few steps behind the Beechwood players all night long.

“The game seemed like it was going 100-miles-per-hour to our kids. We just didn’t adjust to the speed of the game,” Frommeyer explained. “They’re already a fast and explosive team, so with artificial turf they’re even faster. We were behind them on everything.”

Beechwood received the opening kick and marched it down field. Eminence held its own defensively in the first few minutes, sacking Beechwood’s quarterback and forcing third- and fourth-down situations. But Beechwood worked its way out of the jams and eventually found the end zone. From that point forward, Beechwood continued to pile on the points.

The Warriors finished with just 71 yards total offense, including 34 yards rushing from TJ Cooper and 37 yards passing from Dre Banta. They had four first downs and threatened to score as time expired in the fourth quarter on a pass attempt from the 1-yard line. That pass was broken up, though, and Eminence’s season came to an end.

Offensively, the Warriors could not get much happening all night with Beechwood keying in on Cooper each down. Entering the contest, Cooper averaged 176.5 yards rushing per game, broke the school record with 300 yards in a single game midseason and was coming off a 271-yard performance against Ludlow in the opening round of the playoffs. But Beechwood shut him down and held everyone else in check.

Defensively, while the Warriors allowed the 58 points, Frommeyer was pleased with a few players that did step up. He said Shiven Harris, Brad and Chad Tapia, and Banta all played solid defensive games. Banta, who splits his playing time between the team’s quarterback and safety, led the squad with nine tackles.

Instead of dwelling on the season finale, Frommeyer turned his focus on the entire season after his team’s 58-0 loss. The Warriors won eight games this fall, finished runners-up in the district, got to host a playoff game for the second consecutive year and escaped into the second round for the first time. It was an accomplishment just to get in position to play a team of Beechwood’s caliber.

“After the game, we focused more on the season and all that these kids have accomplished,” Frommeyer said. “I told the kids they should be proud to even be in that situation. I think they understand that.”

Frommeyer wants to point out six players who developed into leadership players this season: Banta, Cooper, Harris, JaCoby Moore and the Tapia brothers.

“Those six really stepped up and provided the leadership to this team,” Frommeyer said. “They weren’t these type of leaders one year ago. That has been really gratifying to see.”

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclocal.com.