Bears will find out Friday if they can hold up against Bell’s power ground game


Chandra Howard

Harlan County junior receiver/quarterback Jonan Swanner followed blocks by seniors Connor Blevins, Issac Downs, Johnny Brock and Austin Roark on his way to a touchdown in the Bears’ win Friday at Perry Central. The Bears will honor their seniors before Friday’s game against Bell County.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

There isn’t a lot of mystery about what the Harlan County Black Bears can expect Friday from Bell County and coach Dudley Hilton. The only unknown is whether the Bears are tough enough to match the Bobcats’ physical style.
With over 400 wins in a 44-year coaching career that stretches back to the 1970s, Hilton always features a smash-mouth ground game. The 7-2 Bobcats have been led this season by Daniel Thomas, a junior, who has rushed 1,668 yards and 21 touchdowns at both tailback and as a quarterback out of the wildcat alignment. Thomas carried the ball 17 times for 266 yards and four touchdowns during the Bobcats’ win last week over Estill County.
Dawson Woolum, a senior, has added 787 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“He’s going to run the football against whoever he plays. Daniel is one of the leading rushers in the state, ” Harlan County coach Amos McCreary said. “You have to be as physical as they are, and it has to be play after play. They don’t do anything fancy, but they do what they do as well as anybody you play. They won’t make a lot of mistakes or be out of position. It’s going to be hard to stop that rushing game. Nobody has really stopped them alll year. Knox Central beat team, but they didn’t stop them from scoring. Pulaski County beat them, but they didn’t stop them from scoring.”
Harlan County is coming off one of its biggest wins of the season last week, a 52-36 victory at Perry Central that sent the Bears to the 4A playoffs and improved their record to 4-5. Swanner took over at quarterback with Ethan Rhymer sidelined by an injury and scored three touchdowns, running for 159 yards on 21 carries. He also completed three of three passes for 33 yards. Junior tailback.Thomas Jordan also had a huge night, running for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
“Jonah is getting more comfortable there. He brings a lot to that position. He can throw it a little bit,” McCreary said. “If we can some breaks here and there, we can play with them. If they don’t make some mistakes, it’s hard to get the football from them.”
Freshman quarterback Blake Burnett, who took over for his brother, Cameron, has passes for 675 yards and seven touchdowns, completing 35 of 57 attempts. George Pace has 12 catches for 194 yards and Thomas has 10 for 275 yards.
Thomas also leads the Bobcats in tackles with 70, one ahead of Hayden Dameron and two ahead of Blake Evans. Burnett has three interceptions.