Sanford to continue football career at Union College


Harlan linebacker R.W. Sanford signed Wednesday to continue his football career at Union College. Sanford is pictured with his farther, Robert Sanford Jr., along with Union coaches J.B. Donahue and John Luttrell and Harlan coach Eric Perry,.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Moving from Louisville to Harlan before his freshman year, R.W. Sanford helped transform the Green Dragons’ football program over the next four years.
Sanford was a freshman on the 2019 team that posted a 1-10 mark. He was a senior captain in 2022 when the Dragons finished 8-4 and advanced to the second round of the Class A playoffs before falling to eventual state champ Pikeville.
He will try to lead a similar resurgence on the next level after signing Wednesday with Union College.
“R.W, is a great competitor, and I think he came in to his own this season,” said Union coach John Luttrell, a 1982 Harlan graduate who starred in football for both the Dragons and at Union. “I believe he will give us some needed depth at our linebacker position. I feel any time we can get a talented local player that it’s a good thing for our program.”
Harlan coach Eric Perry credited Sanford with playing a key role in the Dragons’ improvement. Sanford was first on the team in tackles as a junior with 90, including 11 for losses. He was second in tackles last season with 73 while recording perhaps the play of the season on defense with an interception return for a touchdown that helped seal a 50-42 victory over Lexington Sayre.
“He has a good work ethic, runs well, and has a knack for being around the football. No doubt he will do well in the classroom as well,” Perry said.
Several Harlan County athletes have played football at Union since the program began in the mid 1980s. The current roster includes sophomore linebacker Hunter Blevins, a former Harlan County High School standout.