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2016 Prep Football Previews: College prospect takes on leadership role for Cooper in preseason practice

The NKyTribune will be providing focused coverage of NKY high school football throughout the season, thanks to support from St. Elizabeth Healthcare Sports Medicine. See all of our pre-season features on each of NKY’s 21 high school football teams and follow our coverage, including roundups each week at Northern Kentucky High School Football.

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

When college recruiters contact Cooper football coach Randy Borchers to learn more about senior prospect Dante Hendrix, the conversation tends to start the same way.

Dante Hendrix, Cooper

Dante Hendrix is the first Cooper football player to receive a scholarship offer from a Division I college team. (Photo by Terry Boehmker)

“The first thing they ask me almost every time is where would you play him (in college),” Borchers said. “I tell them the same thing: ‘I don’t think you can go wrong on either side of the ball that you put him on.’”

The Cooper coaching staff has been making the most of Hendrix’s athletic ability the last two seasons by using him at wide receiver and defensive back. He also returns punts and kickoffs on special teams.

Last year, Hendrix caught 53 passes for 1,150 yards and 15 touchdowns on offense and had seven pass interceptions on defense. Those numbers impressed quite a few Division I college coaches. Indiana State University has already offered him a scholarship. He’s also on the watch list at Purdue, Western Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Ohio University.

“It’s about spilt between defensive back and wide out,” Hendrix said of the recruiting interest he’s getting. “I’ll play wherever they want me, wherever I can get on the field the earliest.”

Hendrix is one of the few starters Cooper has returning from last year’s 10-3 team that lost in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A playoffs. With his experience and athleticism, the Jaguars will need him on the field more than ever before during the coming season.

“We’ll see what he does, but we feel like he’s going to have another big year,” Borchers said. “And we feel like he’s going to have to put this team on his shoulders and lead it. The thing I’m most impressed with is how he’s really stepped up from last year to this year in becoming a leader.”

Cooper will have a first-year starter at quarterback this year. Borchers said the leading candidates are senior Jarod Lonaker and junior Justin Schlarman. There will also be several newcomers on the offensive line for the Jaguars. How those changes will affect the Cooper offense remains to be seen. Hendrix said they’re still trying to “get the chemistry down” like they did last year when the team averaged 150 passing yards per game.

St-E-Football-plug-768x249“We have confidence in whoever’s going to replace those (starters) from last year,” Hendrix said. “They’re just going to have to work harder and I’m going to have to work harder.”

Borchers said Hendrix has become a “coach on the field” in preseason practice. He helps other receivers learn passing routes and participates on scout teams that run plays against the defense in scrimmages.

There’s a good chance Hendrix will draw more double coverage from opponents this season. He saw that a lot during 7-on-7 passing games over the summer. When that happens, it’ll be tougher to get the ball in the playmaker’s hands.

“We need to find a No. 2 and No. 3 receiver that can hurt teams if they’re going to over pursue Dante,” coach Borchers said. “We’ll deal with that weekly when we see what we get matchup-wise. We just know that we have to find a way to get him the ball whether it’ll be (using him) at slotback or flanker or in jet motion.”

Hendrix will also be a key player in Cooper’s defensive strategy. He didn’t make a lot of tackles last season, but his ability to cover pass receivers is a weapon in itself.

“We feel like whatever side he’s on he’s going to shut down that side on the deep ball,” Borchers said. “That allows us to play a little different in our coverages and offer a little bit more support on the run because we can let him have free reign on whatever side of the field he’s on.”


2015 SEASON: 10-3 record, lost in third round of Class 6A playoffs.
DISTRICT: Class 6A, District 5 with Conner and Ryle.
HEAD COACH: Randy Borchers (56-59 in 10 seasons overall, 49-45 in eight seasons at Cooper).

Aug. 19 – at Highlands, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 – LEXINGTON BRYAN STATION, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 – at Campbell County, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 – SIMON KENTON, 7:30 p.m..
Sept. 23 – at Lexington Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 30 – at Dixie Heights, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 – at Ryle, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 – BOONE COUNTY, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 – CONNER, 7:30 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:
Dixie Heights

Covington Catholic


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