After the Eminence Warriors backpedaled during the second quarter, when Beth Haven managed to squeeze in its only two touchdowns of the game, they went full-speed ahead during the final two quarters to turn their 22-16 halftime lead into a 44-16 runaway victory on both teams season openers Friday night at EHS.
For Eminence, it was a start to what looks to be a very strong season, led by 10 seniors and a few standout playmakers.
Ed Berry rotated between lining up at running back and wide receiver and finished with 156 yards rushing off 13 carries and 88 yards receiving off six catches; TJ Cooper took 16 handoffs for 111 yards rushing; Dre Banta was 8-of-15 passing for 128 yards; and the Warriors finished with 439 yards total offense. Based on its opening-game performance except for the second-quarter woes Eminence is on track to have one of its best years in 11-man in a long time.
I was very pleased with our first game of the year, Eminence coach Steve Frommeyer said a couple of days after the win. We learned a lot Friday, and I was proud our guys didnt let that second quarter keep them down. They came out in the second half, really played hard and controlled the game. I was proud of how they pulled together as a team.
Based on last years opening-game performance against the same team, the Warriors are on pace to have a better campaign than last fall. This time around, they finished with 147 more offensive yards and improved on their 28-22 win from a year ago. Plus, five different players reached the end zone in this years game, which shows the teams added depth and star-studded roster.
By looking at the stats from last years Beth Haven game, our offensive numbers are much better and, overall, we played much better, Frommeyer said. So were a little more ahead of the game than we were last year. I was hoping this senior class would get a good start, and they did.
After a steady downpour slowed to a drizzle and eventually fizzled out, the Warriors and visiting Beth Haven Bearcats took to the field for the kickoff at around 7:50 p.m. The wet conditions could do little to slow down the home squad as the Warriors jumped on Beth Haven early. From their first play from the line of scrimmage, Ed Berry took a reverse handoff and raced 40 yards into the end zone. Cooper then ran in the extra point to put the Warriors ahead 8-0. Later in the first quarter, Cooper ran across the goal line from two yards out and Banta kept the ball for the two-point conversion to push the lead to 16-0.
During the second quarter, though, the tables began to turn when Beth Haven managed to open up its passing game and found the end zone four times off two touchdowns and two extra points to tie the game. All four plays came off passes with the first TD on a long 60-yard play and the second on a 20 yarder. The Bearcats managed just five yards rushing during the entire game, but was more than willing to pick Eminences defense apart with a pass-happy offense.
To Beth Havens credit, they had an excellent quarterback in Stone, Frommeyer said of Beth Havens top player. They threw almost every down. We dont see a whole lot of that with a quarterback that is that mobile and elusive. One thing we didnt do that well at was open-field tackling, which is something we have to work on.
With the clock winding down late in the second quarter, Eminence managed to score on the final play of the half. With less than a second remaining, Banta took the snap, drew back in the pocket and hit Brock Roberts 30 yards away in the corner of the end zone for what might have been a game-changing touchdown. The Warriors missed the two-point conversion, but the momentum was shifted back their way heading into the break.
After the teams came back on the field, Eminence scored once during the third quarter and twice during a big fourth while holding Beth Haven scoreless to open up the contest. Berry scored on a 30-yard pass play from Banta during the third, while Cooper scored on a 15-yard run and Berry scored on a 68-yard run during the fourth. Berry gave Eminence one two-point conversion and Brad Tapia gave Eminence another for the 44-16 win.
I thought we played well in the first, third and fourth quarters, Frommeyer said. If you look at our scrimmages this year and games last year, weve been a team that has started out slow and then picked it up during the second half. So this time, we talked about coming out well in that first quarter, which we did much better but then lost focus in the second. Once we can put four quarters together, we will have a very good football team.
Eminences secondary rusher, Tihon Durrett, did not play due to disciplinary reasons that stemmed from the teams last scrimmage, which left primary option Cooper with more carries and allowed Berry to rotate between lining up behind quarterback and at wideout. Durrett might be back for this weeks game, Frommeyer said, which will only add to an already deep backfield that also includes fullback Tapia.
We hadnt run Berry that much at running back, but since we had our second-team rusher out we decided to let him backup Cooper, Frommeyer explained. Now, we might rotate between three backs in that position (with Cooper, Durrett and Berry). Berry had a great game with his first time getting that many carries and rushing for more than 100 yards. Offense is usually something you struggle at early in the season, but I thought we did great. Well continue to try to stay balanced.
Defensively, Eminence was led by Tapia with 12 tackles, while Cooper had seven, and Zach Raisor and Byrone Foree had six each. Also, Eminence was able to recover a few fumbles and Roberts and Cooper had an interception each.
The Warriors will be back in action Friday when they host Kentucky Country Day, who defeated Atherton 34-0. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
We played well in our first game, Frommeyer added. But hopefully, there will be big improvements from game one to game two.
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