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Players to watch
Erick Butler: The Henry County senior spent most of last season on the sideline with injuries but should be at full strength this season. Two years ago, the linebacker was named to the All-District Team and All-State Honorable Mention. He will be the centerpiece to a can’t-miss-squad this year.
TJ Cooper: The Eminence senior rushed for more than 1,500 yards last fall and should get even more carries this season. Last year, thanks in large part to Cooper, the Warriors finished with a 8-3 record and hosted the school’s first 11-man playoff game. This year — their third playing in the 11-man playoff system — they want to advance into the second round.
Kelly Everidge: The Henry County senior has been playing on the varsity volleyball team the previous four years, dating back to her eighth-grade school year in 2005. The setter specialist was instrumental in the Ladycats run last year, when the team went 24-7 and won the 8th Region All “A” Classic tournament. She will have plenty of teammates to set the ball to with Kelsey Mings, Brittany Crawford, Haley Anderson and Jessica Booher.
Samantha Woods: The Henry County senior is back for another year of golf, and should help lead the Ladycats to their best season on record. Last year, the Cats won the NCKC title, the 8th Region All “A” Classic tournament, finished fifth at the All “A” state tournament and finished a school-best third at the regional tournament. At the top of the leader boards, Woods will have help from sophomore Ally Vaughn and seventh grader MacKenzie Peyton.
Shoes to Fill
Blairs: After playing on the Henry County golf team since middle schoolers, twins Kaitlin and Kara Blair graduated last school year, along with Leah Christian. Replacing them are the trio of Ally Vaughn, Samantha Woods and MacKenzie Peyton, hoping to surpass last year’s record-breaking season. The Blairs leave two pairs of shoes to fill, making them hard to replace.
Ed Berry: Berry left Eminence High School with every school record in receiving, and was the No. 1 option at receiver all four years on the football squad. He is now a preferred walk-on for the University of Kentucky. Taking Berry’s place are junior Trey Lindsay and freshman Brandon Mitchell. EHS coach Steve Frommeyer said he is impressed with the duo so far.
Brett Downey: Henry County’s football team graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team, including lineman Brett Downey. Downey plays for Morehead State University this fall. HCHS coach Chris Engstrand has a number of players he can call on to replace Downey in the lineup, but perhaps none will be as ferocious.
John Harp: Harp was instrumental in starting a boys’ soccer team at HCHS, and played on the first-ever squad as a senior last fall. He plays for Union College this year. Harp was a team leader, coach Jay Dunavin said, both on and off the field. Without Harp, the program might never have started. Now, the question is how it will do without him.
Aug. 26: The Henry County girls’ soccer team will get its first action this season against North Oldham on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. While coach Shannon Snider knows it will be a tough challenge for his young squad, he wants to see how they react to playing a team like North, who happens to be in the same district. This will be the two schools first meeting on the soccer field.
Sept. 14 and Sept. 30: The volleyball squads in the county will meet twice this year during the regular season. On Sept. 14, Eminence High School will travel to Henry County High School to take on the Ladycats. And on Sept. 30, Henry will travel to Eminence to take on the Lady Warriors. Henry won both times the two squads faced last fall.
Oct. 9: Eminence’s football team could be perfect heading into its seventh week of the season, when they go head-to-head against Frankfort at home. Frankfort knocked Eminence out of the state playoffs two years ago and defeated them, 30-0, last October. It will be Eminence’s real test this regular season, and a must-see game.
Oct. 9: After playing six opponents, Henry County’s football team will get its first taste of District Four when the Wildcats travel to North Oldham on Oct. 9. Billy Martin left Henry for North three years ago, then Chris Engstrand was hired as Henry’s new coach. Last year, Henry lost 18-14 in a contest that was not decided until the closing minutes.
Did you know?
• This is just the second year that Henry County will field either a boys or girls soccer team at the varsity level. The girls had a junior varsity team two years ago and transitioned to varsity last fall, while the boys jumped head first into the varsity level last August. In the inaugural year, the boys went 1-7-1 and the girls went 3-10-2.
• The annual Henry County versus Eminence football game, one of the more highly-anticipated sporting events of the school year between two schools separated by just four miles, will not be played this year. Due to a scheduling conflict, the squads will avoid each other the next two seasons. Henry won last year, 55-6.
• After just one season competing in various All “A” Classic tournaments for the smallest 125 schools in Kentucky, Henry County is not eligible this school year. The Cats dominated the 8th Region All “A” tournaments last year but were knocked out this year when they went above the cutoff of the smallest 125 schools. The numbers are checked each winter.
• Between the 12 varsity squads this fall, there were just two head-coach changes. Greg Woods took over from Ricky Drawbaugh for the Henry County cross-country team, and Stephanie Meadows took over from Kristen Lively for the Eminence volleyball team. Other coaches include Chris Engstrand for HC football, Jon Kasten for HC volleyball, Jay Dunavin for HC boys’ soccer, Shannon Snider for HC girls’ soccer, Steve Dent for HC boys’ golf, Kathy Peyton for HC girls’ golf, Lori Cobb for HC cheerleading, Steve Frommeyer for EHS football, Scott McClamroch for EHS cross-country and Melissa Raisor for EHS cheerleading.