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PREP FOOTBALL: Eagles turn focus to playing spoiler (10/19)

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By Josh Claywell

With their playoff hopes dashed in last week’s loss to Louisville Shawnee, the Fort Knox Eagles will try to spoil things for the Christian Academy of Louisville Centurions.

Christian Academy (6-2) has already locked up the Class 2-A, District 4 title and is looking to run through district play undefeated when it travels to McAdams Field tonight at 7:30.

More importantly, second-year coach Shawn Thompson just wants to end the season in a positive way. Since beating Hart County in Week 2, the Eagles (1-7) have lost six straight.

“We’re hoping to play spoiler,” Thompson said. “They are district champs, so we’re hoping to end the season on a positive note and send our seniors out on a good note.”

The Eagles could certainly use a pick-me-up heading into next season, Thompson said.

“We’re trying to get a kick-start on next year,” the coach said. “I think it’s very important. It’ll give us some momentum heading into next year and some good feeling. It’s important for us to end on a good note.”

Like they almost did last week.

Trailing 20-0 in the third quarter, the Eagles rallied and had a chance to tie the score against the Golden Eagles. Senior Brandon Franklin, who shifted to tailback after halftime, caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from senior Rashaan Allen, who moved to quarterback from wide receiver, to cut Shawnee’s lead to 27-20 with 8:16 left to play.

After forcing the Golden Eagles to punt, the Eagles moved the ball to the Shawnee 31-yard line. But the drive stalled as Fort Knox lost 8 yards on two runs and Allen threw two incompletions.

“We just for some reason came out flat last week,” Thompson said. “We had a big second half. We didn’t change anything; we just played better. With some of the injuries we’ve got, we don’t have the speed we had at the beginning of the year. I thought we came out focused and played a lot harder than we did in the first half.”

The changes certainly helped.

Franklin made his debut in the backfield, rushing for 161 yards on 24 carries – giving the Eagles a dynamic one-two punch along with sophomore Ishamael Price, who added 101 yards on the ground in his second consecutive 100-yard game.

Allen will start at quarterback and Franklin at tailback tonight.

“We just haven’t been throwing the ball really well, so we have to go to some other options,” Thompson said. “We’re going to keep Brandon at running back and see what happens. I thought he did a great job last week. He gave us a spark we really haven’t had all year. He did a good job of getting the tough yards.”

Allen was at quarterback earlier this season against Bardstown, when Franklin was out with a knee injury. Thompson said Allen did a good job managing the game last week.

“I thought he did an excellent job,” Thompson said. “He threw his first touchdown pass, and I don’t think we missed a beat with him back there at quarterback.”

While the Eagles have finally found a spark on offense, they’re still riddled by injuries.

Senior Derek Miranda (concussion) and juniors Antonio Copeland (ankle) and Adam Kiphuth (concussion) will miss tonight’s game. Thompson is hopeful the trio can return for next week’s season finale against visiting Campbellsville.

“It still hurts us,” Thompson said. “It makes us real young and inexperienced. We missed Miranda and Copeland’s speed last week. We’re just trying to do what we can with what we’ve got.”

The Eagles need to be at their best if they want to knock off Christian Academy, which is averaging 159.2 rushing yards per game.

Nick Payne has rushed for 863 yards and 10 touchdowns on 160 carries, while quarterback Nathan Christmas has completed 63-of-110 passes for 936 yards and five scores.

The Centurions are averaging 28.4 points per game, while holding opponents to 10.

“They basically just run the ball. They line it up and run it straight at you,” Thompson said. “We’ve had some pretty good practices this week, just trying to make it where we can play well and be in the right spots and be ready to meet the physical challenge they present to us.”

Josh Claywell can be reached at (270) 505-1752 or jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com.