TJ Cooper had a career night last Friday against Bracken County, taking 24 handoffs for an even 300 yards rushing, reaching the end zone five times and finishing with 32 total points en route to an Eminence 48-0 win in its district opener.
The senior, who has rushed for at least 100 yards per outing through five games, got plenty of help from the offensive linemen against Bracken. Shiven Harris led the way at center, while Dakota Duffy and Chad Tapia were the guards, JaCoby Moore and Hunter Hedges were the tackles, and Nathan Carroll and Juan Robles rotated in and out to give the starters breaks. Also, Cooper got key blocks from tight ends Travis Fisher and Jordan Fairchild and fullbacks Bradley Foree and Brad Tapia. It allowed Cooper to break the previous school record of 282 yards rushing in a single game held by Ed Berry from last November.
“TJ had a tremendous night and our offensive line did a tremendous job of opening up holes for him,” EHS coach Steve Frommeyer said. “We played extremely well and were able to grind out our first district win.”
Most of Cooper’s yards came in the first half with Eminence ahead 30-0 after the first quarter and 42-0 at the break. The Warriors scored their final touchdown early in the third quarter and did not reach the end zone again in a second half that saw the clock continuously tick away due to the mercy rule.
The stormy conditions that swept through the Bracken County area last Friday left the playing conditions sloppy, which forced Eminence to keep the ball on the ground. They finished with 363 total yards with 341 rushing and just 22 passing. Dre Banta was 6-of-12 passing — all short ones to move the chains. Meanwhile, Bracken moved the ball for just 55 yards total offense, thanks to strong play from Eminence’s young secondary unit.
“Those young kids we have out there are getting better each week in pass coverage,” Frommeyer said of the recent turnaround. “Because of what teams are seeing on game film and stats, they are coming out throwing a lot against us and Bracken did the same thing. They see it as our weakness. But our players are making progress each time they go on the field. They were in great position the whole night.”
Defensively, Harris led the way with a team-high seven tackles. Brad Tapia had six tackles, and Byrone Foree and Chad Tapia had five each to help earn the shutout victory.
The Warriors scored four times during a lopsided opening quarter. Cooper scored the first three touchdowns on 26-, 65- and 47-yard runs to open up the contest. Bradley Foree ran in the first 2-point conversion, Cooper caught the second and Brad Tapia caught the third. With just one minute on the clock, Fairchild caught a pass from Banta for a 7-yard play that put the Warriors in front 30-0 after the first 12-minute stretch.
During the second quarter, Trey Lindsey intercepted a Bracken pass and returned it 53 yards into the end zone, and Cooper scored again on a 13-yard run. In the opening drive of the third quarter, Cooper scored his fifth touchdown on a 2-yard run that put the Warriors ahead 48-0. With the clock running down and the game out of reach for Bracken, neither team scored again.
Cooper’s 32 points were also just four shy of another school record with Marcus Wright scoring 36 in a single game in 1999.
With the win, the Warriors improved their record to 3-2 on the season with wins over South Floyd, North Hardin Christian and Bracken, and losses to Bethlehem and Kentucky Country Day. They host Gallatin County this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and close out the regular season with games against Frankfort, Trimble County and another one against North Hardin Christian. They are already guaranteed a spot in the Class A state playoffs.
“We’re moving forward, which was evident against Bracken,” Frommeyer said. “We feel like we’re getting better each week.”
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