Warriors try for first 11-man playoff victory

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By Tommie Kendall

The team Steve Frommeyer calls the most improved squad in his 30-plus years of coaching football will take to the field this Friday night in an attempt to win Eminence High School’s first 11-man playoff game.

The EHS Warriors play Ludlow at 7:30 p.m. as teams all across Kentucky open the state playoffs. Eminence hosted Ludlow last year in the postseason opener — it was the school’s first-ever home game in the playoffs — with Ludow winning 35-20 to advance. This time around, after earning the second seed in Class A, District Four again and securing home field, Frommeyer thinks the parts are in place to escape out of the first round. It has been the main objective all season.

The Warriors enter the postseason with a 7-3 record, including a 1-0 forfeit win over Evangel Christian after that team dropped out of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and could not fulfill its contract to play Eminence. The Warriors wins this season were against South Floyd (58-22), North Hardin Christian (54-36), Bracken County (48-0), Gallatin County (12-6), Trimble County (24-20) and North Hardin Christian (58-18). Their losses were to Bethlehem (33-6), Kentucky Country Day (29-18) and Frankfort (14-0). In their season finale against North Hardin Christian on Oct. 23, the Warriors won the unofficial Kentucky State Eight-Man Series Championship. It was most likely the last time Eminence will play an eight-man game.

Meanwhile, Ludlow is 5-5. The Panthers defeated Bracken County (35-24), Shawnee (31-30), Bishop Brossart (35-14), Dayton (19-12) and Walton-Verona (28-21), and lost to Taylor, OH (15-6), Carroll County (36-21), Beechwood (49-2), Bellevue (48-0) and Pendleton County (27-6).

Bracken was the only team both Eminence and Ludlow played with Eminence winning by 48 points and Ludlow winning by 11. In last week’s Litkenhous Football Ratings, Eminence is 20th in Class A with a 51.7 rating and Ludlow is 28th at 42.5. According to those numbers, Eminence is a 9.2 favorite.

The Warriors, who Frommeyer said have dramatically improved all season, is also ranked top-10 in the state in rushing yards allowed with a 76-yards-per-game average. The combination of Eminence’s brick-wall defense, led by the Brad and Chad Tapia brothers, starting quarterback Dre Banta and speedy running back TJ Cooper could propel the Warriors to a Ludlow victory.

“We have improved so much. In my 30-plus years of coaching, this is one of the most improved teams from the beginning of the season to the end,” Frommeyer said as his team prepares for Ludlow after having the final weekend of the regular season off. “Our whole game has improved so much.”

The big spark plug has been Cooper, who has rushed for 1,494 yards in just nine games for an average of 166 yards per outing. He holds the top two school marks for rushing yards in a single game and has three of the top-four. On that list, Cooper is first at 300 yards, Cooper is second at 297, Ed Berry is third at 283, Cooper is fourth at 271 and Marcus Wright is fifth at 257.

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