Within the next few years, Eminence's football team might get back to what made the program successful during the 1990s - eight-man football. But coach Steve Frommeyer and his Warriors, who won numerous state eight-man titles and a few national crowns, want to continue in the 11-man, district-playoffs format, too.
Now, they might get the chance to do both.
Eminence made the switch to 11-man post-season play this fall for the first time since the 1990s, and advanced to the state playoffs for the first time in school history. The Warriors finished the regular season with a 6-5 mark before losing to Frankfort High School in the opening round of the state playoffs, 54-6.
"I think in the long run, if we are able to do both eight-man and 11-man, that will be our ideal situation," Frommeyer said. "There are a number of small schools in the state that are starting up a football program within the next few years, so they have contacted me about joining another eight-man league. Given our size, it will be a good opportunity for us."
The new eight-man league, if formed, will be played during the regular season, and is looking into the possibility of saving the final week of the season for bowl-like games to decide the champions. With this setup, it will give teams like Eminence a chance to be competitive in eight-man games and play in 11-man post-season action as well. As long as the Warriors play their four district games during the season, they will be eligible by the KHSAA for the state playoffs.
"We're just really small, there's no way around it," Frommeyer said of Eminence High School, which has just 70 boys in the entire school. "But I was very pleased with our 11-man effort this season. I feel really good about what we accomplished this year, and I'm really excited about the future with the guys we have coming back."
Wide receiver Ed Berry finished his junior season with four school records, including most receptions in a career with 134 catches, most receiving yards in a career with 2,054, most touchdowns in a career with 26, and longest missed field goal return of 98 yards.
Teammate Nelson Hedges, who finished up his senior season against Frankfort, led the Warriors from quarterback and running back on offense, and from linebacker on defense. He concluded the year with 27-of-45 passing for 610 yards and eight touchdown passes, 99 carries for 749 yards and eight touchdown runs, and a team-high 92 tackles. Berry caught 43 passes for 633 yards and 10 touchdowns, while freshman Dre Banta, who also plays quarterback, had five interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Banta moved into the starting quarterback role against Henry County midseason, and stayed behind center for the rest of his freshman campaign.
"I think the fact that this was the first year we had spring practice really helped the team, and we had a summer of playing seven-on-seven passing games, too," Frommeyer said. "I think it will be important to continue to build off the things we started this year. As long as we keep doing what we've been doing, we'll eventually get where we want to be."
Frommeyer said there were five key points to this season that really stood out: this squad was one of the most coachable teams he's ever had; the team's GPA was 88 percent and no varsity player was ineligible all season; the players combined for over 450 community service hours; the team finished with a winning 6-5 record and a perfect 3-0 in junior varsity games; and it was the first time in school history the football team advanced to the state playoffs.
"Our team didn't start off too well early in the season, but they turned into one of the most coachable and team-oriented teams I've ever coached," Frommeyer said. "I think a lot of our players matured during the year, and they started to get the message we were trying to tell them. In the end, they were very enjoyable to coach."
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