BEREA — Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops watched top recruit Damien Harris play high school football for the final time Friday night.
Both left quite the impression.
Stoops arrived in style — landing in a helicopter on the Madison Southern softball field and taking a short golf-cart ride to the football stadium. The Eagles fans chanted "C-A-T-S" as Stoops stepped off the chopper, which he christened the "Yahtzee Machine" before takeoff.
The UK coach delivered the game ball to midfield, and his star recruit took it from there.
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Harris ran 17 times for 318 yards and four touchdowns in Madison Southern's 42-11 victory over rival Madison Central. Stoops stayed for the whole thing.
"It's an incredible honor," Harris said. "For him to even come here, and the way that he did it. He took the time out of his day. He could be at home game planning right now. He could be with the team going over things. But the fact that he decided to come watch me play, it was a great honor.
"And the fact that he stayed the entire game, that adds onto it even more."
Harris provided highlights from beginning to end, capping Southern's first drive with a 30-yard touchdown run after finding a hole in the line, breaking two tackles and shoving off another defender on his way to the end zone.
It was more of the same from there.
Harris went 72 yards on his next touch, going up the middle and then down the left sideline, where he broke a tackle, cut back to his right to avoid a defender and kept going until he got tripped up 8 yards from the end zone.
The Eagles scored on the next play to go up 15-8 and never trailed again.
Harris added a 67-yard run to set up another quick touchdown on Southern's next possession. He took a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit at the end of that run and didn't touch the ball for the rest of the first half.
"I was more out of breath than anything," he said. "That's all it was."
He got his wind back at halftime and took the first play of the second half for a 66-yard score, again breaking tackles and outrunning a defender to the end zone.
Harris added two more touchdowns later in the half, playing until the final whistle.
College coaches are permitted to watch a recruit only once per season, so Friday night's trip to Berea will be the final time this fall that Stoops — or anyone from UK's staff — sees Harris play in person. Running backs coach Chad Scott accompanied Stoops.
Once the season is finished, UK's coaches will be able to meet with Harris once per week off campus, though he plans to make his college announcement Dec. 13.
"They're doing a great job recruiting Damien, they really are," said Eagles Coach Jon Clark. "There's no way that he can't not feel the love from UK right now.
"They recruit tirelessly now. Any day they can be here, they're the first ones here. And they're here all day. And they call when they can. There's nobody that's going to work harder than that staff does. There really isn't. Nobody's going to be there more and put in more work than they have. It's not going to happen."
Madison So. 42, Madison Central 11
Madison Central 8 3 0 0—11
Madison Southern 15 6 14 7—42
MC—Blake Gross 36 pass from Zachary Hardin (Korrion Crier run). MS—Damien Harris 30 run (Andrew Miller catch). MS—A.J. Richardson 8 run (Garrison Watts kick). MS—Dawson Richardson 1 run (conversion failed). MC—Worthie McGuire Jr. 37 field goal. MS—Harris 66 run (Watts kick). MS —Harris 8 run (Watts kicked). MS—Harris 26 run (Watts kick).
Records: Madison Central 1-2; Madison So. 3-0.