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Cooper reverses trend by routing Conner, 43-7, in district seeding game between county rivals

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Cooper had a 5-10 record in its football series against Conner going into their annual game on Thursday and the largest margin in the Jaguars’ five wins was eight points.

With a couple of seniors leading the way, Cooper reversed that trend by routing Conner, 43-7, in the Class 5A district seeding game between the Boone County rivals that ended with a running clock.

Cooper senior Brendon Tye scored three second-half touchdowns in the win over Conner. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Cooper senior quarterback Drew Warth received the most valuable player award after the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown game. He passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns, completed three two-point conversion passes and kicked an extra-point.

“Most of the guys on this team had never beaten Conner,” Warth said of snapping a four-game losing streak against the Cougars. “This is a pivotal moment in our season and I just hope we can build off this every week.”

The Jaguars’ (5-2) other senior standout was running back Brandon Tye, who scored all three of his team’s touchdowns in the second half on runs of 34, 5 and 59 yards. He provided most of his team’s 239 total rushing yards.

Cooper’s defense also had a big night. After scoring a touchdown on its first possession, Conner wasn’t able to reach the end zone again. In the second quarter, Cooper defensive tackle Xander Taylor scored on a 42-yard fumble return that put his team ahead, 13-7, and they pulled away from there.

“All year long, our defense has been kicking butt,” Warth said. “It’s one of the best defenses in the state, and our O-line, you couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. We all love each other. They’ll do anything for me and I’ll do anything for them.”

Cooper senior quarterback Drew Warth passed for 150 yards and two touchdowns. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Conner (5-3) played without Alijah Thompson, the team’s leading rusher and scorer, but the Cougars still opened the game with a 68-yard scoring drive. They ran the ball on all six plays, including a 55-yard scamper by running back Clayton Melcher and 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Alex Castrucci.

After the teams exchanged punts, Cooper ran off 21 straight points in the second quarter. That’s when Warth threw a pair of TD passes to senior Alex Turner and Taylor scored on the fumble return.

Cooper running back Eli White limped off the field late in the second quarter and spent the rest of the game on the bench with an ice pack on his right shin.

But the Jaguars continued to move the ball on the ground with Tye picking up more than 130 yards in the second half alone.

“Our team has the mentality if someone goes down the next man is going to step up and do the job,” Warth said. “With Eli going down, Tye stepped up in a big way for us. Our line stepped up in a big way. Our defense stepped up in a big way. I mean, I couldn’t ask for a better game or a better team.”

Covington Catholic leads the Class 5A district standings with a 2-0 mark, followed by Conner (2-1), Cooper (1-1), Highlands (0-1) and Boone County (0-2). Highlands will play at Boone County on Friday and CovCath has a bye.

High school football schedule

Cooper 43, Conner 7
Newport Central Catholic 69, Ludlow 28
Walton-Verona 42, Owen County 12
Highlands (3-4) at Boone County (3-4), 7 p.m.
Brossart (7-0) at Bracken County (4-3), 7:30 p.m.
Ryle (4-2) at Campbell County (1-5), 7 p.m.
Bellevue (1-5) at Dayton (3-3), 7 p.m.
Boyd County (3-4) at Holmes (4-2), 7:30 p.m.
Beechwood (6-0) vs. Holy Cross (1-5) at Thomas More, 7 p.m.
Lloyd (2-4) at Newport (2-5), 7 p.m.
Dixie Heights (3-3) at Simon Kenton (1-5), 7 p.m.

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