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A week after taking a disappointing loss to cross-county rival Henry County, the Eminence Warriors got back on the winning side of things in a big way Friday night with a 58-16 blowout win over visiting Evangel Christian in 8-man action.
The Warriors controlled both sides of the ball and the scoreboard from the start, and in the end came away with a 42-point victory to improve to 6-1 on the season. It was their first game in 8-man this season with two 11-man games and one 8-man game remaining before the postseason starts. For Eminence, the Evangel contest was a chance to rest some its top players and give its youngsters the chance to shine.
“I was really pleased with the attitude from our older players, and with the play I saw from our younger players,” Eminence coach Steve Frommeyer said. “We played a lot of young guys this game, which was a great experience for them. I thought we played well and we enjoyed playing 8-man, but we’re excited to get back to 11-man this week.”
The Warriors started the 2008 campaign with wins over Beth Haven (44-16), Kentucky Country Day (34-13), Trimble County (26-24), Bracken County (46-0) and Gallatin County (28-21) before taking a loss to Henry (55-6) and defeating Evangel for the 6-1 start. They will play Bishop Brossart this Friday, travel to Frankfort Oct. 24 in a regular-season district title showdown and close out the regular season in the unofficial Kentucky 8-Man Championship Game Nov. 3 against either North Hardin Christian or Bishop Brossart — who will play each other Oct. 24 for the right to play in the title game.
A few of the smaller teams across Kentucky are trying to jump start an 8-man league, which fizzled out a few years back. This year, just four teams are participating with the championship being held on a Monday night at Georgetown College.
“For this season we just kind of worked out an agreement and our Evangel game is what got us to the championship,” said Frommeyer, who is hoping some other schools jump on board. “I think it’s a great way for the smaller schools to build a program.”
Right now, 8-man is not sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association but the games are counted towards the regular season. Eminence has already guaranteed home field advantage during the first round of the official Class A State Playoffs, which will begin Nov. 14.
The difference between 11-man and 8-man is not as big as those not affiliated with 8-man might think, with the biggest adjustments coming on defense, Frommeyer said. Offensively, the Warriors run the same basic routes, while defensively they go from more of a zone-based team to strictly man-to-man and they obviously change the packages up front with two less linemen. But for teams like Evangel, who struggle to put together an 11-man lineup and players along the sideline, the three less players on the field is a huge plus.
Eminence wasted no time in putting away Evangel Friday night with a 28-0 lead after a dominated first quarter and a 46-8 lead at the half before cruising in for the unchallenged victory. Evangel managed to score one touchdown during the second quarter and another during the third.
The Warriors first got on the scoreboard early in the contest when quarterback Dre Banta kept the ball on a 6-yard untouched run. Before the first 12 minutes came to an end, the Warriors had reached the end zone three more times and recorded a safety to stretch out the margin. Banta connected with Trey Lindsey on a 32-yard touchdown pass, Gage Bohannon was credited with a safety following a bad snap from Evangel, Banta connected with Ed Berry on a 40-yard touchdown pass and Berry intercepted an Evangel pass for another touchdown. Sean Armstrong ran in one of the 2-point conversion attempts to leave the Warriors ahead 28-0.
During the second quarter, TJ Cooper ran 20 yards across the goal line, Zach Raisor intercepted an Evangel pass and ran 40 yards into the end zone and Shane Armstrong ran 20 yards for another touchdown.
Eminence closed out its scoring when Banta connected with Berry on a 50-yard touchdown play and Banta intercepted a pass and ran it 40 yards for the eighth and final touchdown for the Warriors.
With three interceptions returned for touchdowns and a safety, Eminence scored 20 points on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, the Warriors moved the ball for 240 yards with 135 coming from passing and 110 from rushing. Cooper carried the ball just four times for 48 yards — his first game this season without 100 or more — Banta was 5-of-6 passing for 135 yards and Ed Berry caught four passes for 103 yards. On defense, Brad Tapia had a team-high five tackles, and Travis Fischer and Dakota Duffy had four tackles apiece.
“Because we scored so many points on defense and we gave some of our younger players so much playing time, our stats weren’t that impressive this week,” Frommeyer explained. “But I thought we still played a great game.”
Also, Evangel never punted the ball, despite some long fourth-down situations, which left Eminence with short field position all night long.
One of the highlights of the game was the play from Frankie Ayers, who used to be the team’s manager but has since joined the team as a senior in a Rudy-like story. Starting linebacker Tihon Durrett gave up his starting job so Ayers could get a varsity start — one of his goals.
“It was a great thing for Tihon to do, and I’m glad Frankie was able to get in there and play,” Frommeyer said.
After the impressive 6-1 start, the Warriors will be back in action this Friday when they host Bishop Brossart, who is still looking for its first win at 0-6. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
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