Heading into the second half on Friday night in Bardstown, the Eminence Warriors were determined not to let the football game against Bethlehem get out of control as they were trailing 33-6 at the break. It didn’t.
Neither school reached the end zone during the final two quarters with the Bethlehem Eagles hanging on to their 33-6 advantage until the final horn sounded. While EHS coach Steve Frommeyer was not happy with the final score, he was pleased that his squad was able to progress throughout the game.
He said Bethlehem and Frankfort are the best two teams on Eminence’s schedule in terms of talent and experience. Bethlehem opened the 2009 season with a 50-0 win over Fort Knox; Frankfort opened with a 52-0 win over Paris and plays Eminence on Oct. 9.
“This early in the season, playing against a team of Bethlehem’s caliber, it showed us what we need to work on,” Frommeyer said. “We did get better as the game went on. Some of our kids made mistakes early in the game but kept their heads up and kept working hard. We learned a lot, like this team isn’t going to give up no matter what. We could have folded our tents, but we played hard and got better. That’s an encouraging sign and showed a lot of leadership and character from us. We kept playing hard and believing in each other.”
Eminence’s lone touchdown came from TJ Cooper in the second quarter with the Warriors trailing 20-0. Cooper took the handoff from quarterback Dre Banta, ran around a couple of blocks from his teammates, found a hole in the middle and out-sprinted everyone on the field for a 70-yard touchdown carry. Eminence missed the two-point conversion to leave the score at 20-6.
Bethlehem scored two more touchdowns before the first half came to an end, and neither team scored after the break. The Warriors were never really in scoring position as they had a tough time against Bethlehem’s tough defense all night. Except for Cooper’s long run, they never threatened to reach the end zone.
“Bethlehem has a really, really good defensive team. That’s the best part about them,” Frommeyer said. “Our kids were playing hard but never could really do anything against them.
“We were able to get some first downs and control the clock but never were able to break loose,” he added. “There were times when our backs would break a hole but their second wave of attackers would swoop in.”
Early in the game, Eminence had to switch to an almost exclusive running game when Bethlehem smothered Eminence’s receivers. Banta was 1-of-6 passing for just 6 yards with the one pass going to tight end Byrone Foree.
On the ground, Cooper finished with 14 carries for a team-high 115 yards and Brad Tapia had 43 yards for a total of 170 yards rushing from Eminence.
“Their pass rush was just unbelievable,” Frommeyer said. “We could barely set up, even on play-action pass plays. They did a great job of bringing pressure.”
Bethlehem scored on the opening kickoff and never looked back. Eminence kicked the football to a Bethlehem player, who fumbled the ball, picked it back up and sprinted to the end zone for the early lead. The Eagles scored two more touchdowns before Eminence’s lone TD.
What gave Eminence the most fits all night was in the secondary. The Eagles hooked up for three long passes early in the game, which dug a hole for Eminence. The secondary for Eminence is the most inexperienced part of the squad, which Bethlehem exploited early and often.
Frommeyer said his team did leave with some feel-good moments, most notably on the line of scrimmage. Nathan Carroll started on the defensive line for the first time and finished with five tackles; linemen Shiven Harris, Chad Tapia, JaCoby Moore also stepped up their game; Banta had another good game on defense as safety and linebacker to go along with his quarterback duties; and Brad Tapia finished with a team-high 10 tackles.
“All of those guys played exceptionally well,” Frommeyer said. “Honestly, we just couldn’t make plays in the secondary and had problems pass blocking.”
After the 1-1 start — Eminence opened the year with a 58-22 win over South Floyd the week before — the Warriors travel to Kentucky Country Day this Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. They will then have an open weekend before hosting North Hardin Christian in their first home game on Sept. 18. Frommeyer said his players are already fired up to get back to work.
“They seemed to have handled the loss to Bethlehem very well,” he said. “On the bus ride home, they were already determined to get better and asked me if we could practice in full pads on Monday, which is usually a shorts practice. We have kids that want to do it right, so they will get better.”
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