Eminence's football team hung with Frankfort High School through two quarters on Oct. 19, trailing the highly-ranked Panthers just 7-0 at the break. But Frankfort, who was ranked second among Class A teams at the time, scored 30 points during the second half, allowed Eminence to squeak into the end zone just once, and pulled away to a convincing 37-8 win.
Now, three weeks later, the teams will be squaring off once again, this time in the opening round of the Class A Football State Tournament. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night on Frankfort's home turf.
"The first time we played them, the biggest problem we had was containing their outside speed," Eminence coach Steve Frommeyer said of Frankfort's speedy players. "So we are making some changes defensively to contain them. And offensively, we committed a couple of turnovers and had too many penalties. We have to eliminate the things in our control. Even though I thought we were competitive for most of the game, I think we can be more competitive this time around."
Frankfort scored early in the opening quarter and couldn't punch the ball across the goal line again until the third quarter. Eminence scored its lone touchdown midway through the fourth when freshman quarterback Dre Banta found Ed Berry in the back of the end zone on a 30-yard pass. Banta then threw to Zach Raisor on the two-point conversion to give Eminence eight points.
Meanwhile, the Panthers scored 22 points during the third quarter and eight during the fourth.
Frankfort, who is led by Mr. Football candidate and future University of Kentucky player E.J. Fields, defeated Danville (20-19) and lost to North Hardin (37-18) to finish the regular season with a 8-2 record. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Fields injured his ankle early in the Eminence game and had to sit out the following Friday against Danville. But the senior should be back to full strength when Frankfort takes the field this Friday, Frommeyer said.
"Fields is a great player, but the truth is they have a lot of very good players and had an impressive win over Danville without him," Frommeyer explained. "There's only one football, and only one person can carry it at a time. Anyone who gets the ball for Frankfort will be fast, and we have to be ready to stop them."
Eminence enters the playoffs with a 6-5 regular-season record, defeating Beth Haven (28-22), Bracken County (40-0), Bishop Brossart (28-8) and Evangel Christian twice (54-8 and 54-6), earning a 1-0 forfeit win over Franklin of Tennessee, and losing to Kentucky Country Day (13-6), Trimble County (60-14), Gallatin County (30-6), Henry County (29-20) and Frankfort (37-8). Including their forfeit win over Franklin, the Warriors have won four of their final five games.
With the win at Bracken on Sept. 14, Eminence sealed a spot in the state playoffs. The top four teams in each district advanced, and Eminence finished fourth out of the five-team Class A, District Four. This is the first year the Warriors have played in the 11-man, district-playoffs format since the mid-1990s.
"With our first attempt at the playoffs in a long time and a much tougher schedule, Ive been really pleased with the direction we are headed," Frommeyer said. "We've had great attitudes both on and off the field. It's been a great season. We hope for a good game against Frankfort."
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