By Tommie Kendall
No right tackle plus no left tackle, minus one player in the backfield equals no problem for the Eminence Warriors. With multiple eight-man state championships and few national titles, it's an equation Steve Frommeyer and his Warriors are all too familiar with.
Eminence's football team returned to eight-man play Friday night against Evangel Christian and came away with a 54-8 thrashing. Last season was supposed to be Eminence's last year playing eight-man, but when Evangel was short of numbers at game time, the Warriors agreed to play without three players on the field.
"This was a last minute thing," Frommeyer said. "At the beginning of the year, Evangel scheduled us and a few other 11-man teams, but their numbers were so small that they had to cancel some 11-man games and we were more than willing to play them in eight-man."
Eminence stormed out to a 28-0 opening quarter lead and went on to improve its season record to 3-4. Evangel, who had just nine players against Eminence, dropped to 0-4.
The Warriors reached the end zone four times during the first 12 minutes to set the early tempo fast and in their favor. During this time, Evangel threw two interceptions - Nelson Hedges returned the first interception 90 yards for a touchdown and Dre Banta returned the second 35 yards to the end zone.
The Warriors slowed down during the second quarter, but still managed to take a 34-0 advantage into the half.
By the time the game came to an end, Evangel had thrown four interceptions, and gave up touchdowns off a fumble and kickoff. Banta had two interceptions, Hedges and Ed Berry one each, while Nathan Hall returned a fumble 30 yards for touchdown and TJ Cooper returned a kickoff 85 yards to the end zone.
Eminence had just 70 yards rushing and 77 passing, but managed to accumulate 386 all-purpose yards. From the line of scrimmage, Isiah Durrett rushed for a team-high 45 yards off two carries, Berry had a team-high 53 yards receiving off five catches and freshman quarterback Banta was six of seven passing, had two touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown to go along with his two interceptions.
"Dre had an tremendous game," Frommeyer said. "It was a breakout game for him. I'm extremely happy for him - he's going to be an outstanding football player for us."
Banta earned his first varsity start in the Henry County loss the weekend before, and was much more comfortable in the lead role against Evangel.
"If he could survive the big, rival game against Henry County, which he did, he can survive anything," Frommeyer added. "We are just seeing the tip of the iceburg right now."
Defensively, Zach Raisor had 10 tackles, Brad Day had seven tackles, Trevor Davis had six, and Brock Roberts and Hedges had five each.
During the second half, after EHS took a 34-0 lead into the break, the Warriors put their younger players on the field. They stretched their advantage to 40-0 during the third, and allowed Evangel its first and only touchdown during the final quarter before crossing the goal line two more times.
Eminence's game scheduled at Bishop Brossart this Friday has been moved to Saturday at Newport Stadium, starting at 1 p.m.
The Warriors will host Class A, District Four opponent Frankfort High School the following Friday, and added Evangel Christian in another eight-man game Oct. 26 to round out their 10-game season.
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