Dragons preparing for aerial assault from Collett and company in trip to Leslie County


Chris Jones

Harlan senior fullback Dylan Middleton picked up yardage in last week’s win over Pineville. Middleton and the Dragons close their regular-season schedule Friday at Leslie County.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

With a chance to record their first eight-win regular season since 2015, the Harlan Dragons close their schedule Friday at Leslie County.
Harlan coach Eric Perry expects a stiff test for the Dragons’ secondary against standout sophomore quarterback Landry Collett and a talented group of receivers. Collett, a transfer from South Laurel. Collettt has completed 114 of 205 passes for 1,747 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wyatt Hensley and Wyatt Ostrander are tied for the team lead with 26 receptions each.
“He’s a really good quarterback and has a very good receiving corps. I think it’s the best receiving corps we’ve seen. They have some real athleticism with speed and great hands,” Perry said. “I heard the other day that Louisville was looking at the Hensley kid. They have a nice team and our kids realize they pose our defensive backs the biggest challenge they’ve seen this year. We feel we’ve faced some good quarterbacks and receivers, but they have three or four who can really play. It will be a good challenge for us.”
Dalton Maggard leads the Eagles’ ground game with 434 yards and three touchdowns. Collett has added 309 yards and four touchdowns.
Leslie brings a 4-5 record into the game, finishing third out of four teams in its 2A district. The only common opponent between the Eagles and Dragons has been Middlesboro. The Jackets edged Harlan 21-20, then rolled past the Eagles 47-21 three weeks later.
Harlan is 7-2 and headed for a home playoff game next week against Lexington Sayre. The Dragons rolled past district opponents Lynn Camp and Pineville the past two weeks, and Perry hopes they can take their wining streak into the postseason.
“We want to build on what we’ve got going,” he said. “We have to improve on some things defensively. I felt we had trouble getting lined up at time. After looking at the film, I didn’t think our offensive line played that well last week. I know that sounds crazy after we ran for almost 400 yards, but we can fix those things. We had a really good practice Monday. They seemed very focused.”
Senior tailback Jayden Ward ran for 232 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries in the win over Pineville and now has 995 yards on the season. Darius Akal is second with 594 yards rushing.
Senior Dylan Middleton has taken over as the Dragons’ top tackler with 67 for the season, six ahead of R.W. Sanford, who has been slowed the last two weeks by an injury. Perry said Sanford was “questionable’ for Friday’s games
Bryce Pugh has been the leader on the Leslie defense with 115 tackles, more than double the total of anyone else on the team. Pugh also has 30 tackles for losses and five and a half sacks.