A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Cooper football team coming on strong at the end of season behind sophomore quarterback

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Going into the final week of the regular season, Cooper’s football team had a 3-6 record and the offense had scored only one touchdown in each of its last three games.

The Jaguars clearly needed a spark, and Jeremiah Lee provided it. The sophomore quarterback rushed for 241 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 205 yards and two TDs in back-to-back victories to extend the team’s season.

Sophomore quarterback Jeremiah Lee led Cooper to back-to-back victories that lifted the team’s record to 5-6 going into a playoff game at Conner on Friday. (Photo from hudl.com website)

Cooper (5-6) is one of only two teams with a losing record that made it to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. If the Jaguars win Friday’s game at Conner (8-3), they’ll advance to the regional finals.

“We’re still a pretty young team,” said Cooper coach Randy Borchers. “And if you look at the schedule we played early in the year, we felt if we could weather through that and keep the team together we’d be playing pretty good football by the end of the year. Our kids did a good job battling through it all.”

In the final game of the regular season, Lee rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s 23-7 win over Henry Clay. Then he had the best game of his young career in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs when Cooper knocked off George Rogers Clark, 48-21.

Lee had a hand in all seven touchdowns the Jaguars scored in the playoff game. He rushed for 147 yards and four touchdowns, threw a pair of scoring passes to senior wide receiver Mikey Armour and returned an interception to the end zone.

He’s a playmaker,” coach Borchers said of Lee. “He’s a kid that anytime he touches the ball he can make a big play, whether it’s with his feet or his arm.”

This is Lee’s second season as Cooper’s quarterback. When last year’s team got off to an 0-5 start, he took over the position and ended up passing for 602 yards and rushing for 503 as a freshman.

He improved on those totals this season even though he missed two games with an injury. Going into Friday’s playoff game, Lee has passed for 929 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 713 yards and 10 TDs.

Randy Borchers

“He’s still learning,” coach Borchers said. “We felt like he was coming on strong at mid-season and then he had an injury and sat out for a couple weeks. It took him a while to get back to it, but now he’s playing like he was before.”

Conner edged Cooper, 19-14, in a regular season district game on Oct. 19 to take a 7-5 lead in the series between the county rivals. The margin of victory in six of the last seven games has been six points or less, so Friday’s face-off promises to be a good one.

“We’re going to have our hands full, that’s for sure,” Borchers said. “They’re a team that we get up for and we’re a team that they get up for. And it seems that throughout the last few years, regardless of who’s supposed to win, it all comes down to the last possession.”

Last year, Cooper beat Conner, 21-20, with placekicker Tori Neltner, the only girl on the Jaguars’ roster, kicking an extra point in the final seconds to seal the win. Neltner has converted 20 of 22 extra-point attempts this season, so she could have an impact on Friday’s game against Conner once again.

“A couple of years ago, we kicked a field goal over at Conner to win the game,” Borchers said. “So kickers have been a big part of this game the last couple of years, and we feel confident with her that if we need a big kick she’ll be calm and collected and hit one for us.”

High school football playoff games

Games scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted

CLASS 1A
Ludlow (8-3) at Frankfort (7-3)
Kentucky Country Day (6-5) at Beechwood (8-2)
CLASS 2A
Monroe County (4-7) at Walton-Verona (9-2)
Louisville DeSales (10-1) at Newport Central Catholic (5-6)
Lloyd (7-4) at Christian Academy of Louisville (11-0)
CLASS 4A
Scott (7-4) at Johnson Central (10-1)
CLASS 5A
Montgomery County (9-2) at Covington Catholic (11-0)
Highlands (9-2) at Anderson County (10-0)
CLASS 6A
Cooper (5-6) at Conner (8-3), 7 p.m.
Lexington Henry Clay (6-5) at Simon Kenton (9-2)

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