Jackets open defense of league title with win at Harlan


John Henson

Harlan’s Jackson Luttrell tried to get around the end as Middlesboro’s Vincent Smith moved in for the stop in Saturday’s middle school game. Smith passed for two touchdowns and ran for one in the Jackets’ 38-0 win.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Even with 18 players moving up to high school, the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets made it clear Saturday afternoon at Harlan that they have no intention of giving up their place atop the Mountain Middle School Athletic Conference without a fight.
Middlesboro scored on all five of its possessions in a dominating first half on the way to a 38-0 rout of the Green Dragons in the season opener for both squads.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how these guys have played this summer,” Middlesboro coach Charlie Lambert said. “I told our guys that people would be coming for us this season after we won the league at both levels last year. I really like how they have worked and prepared.”
The game was stopped at halftime as several Green Dragons struggled with the heat. Harlan had only 17 players on its roster and school officials and coaches thought it best to end the game at that point.
“It’s hard to get a team together in three weeks, so I understand where they are coming from,” Lambert said.
Vincent Smith, a former Harlan quarterback, led the explosive Middlesboro offense with two touchdowns passing and one running.
Nashawn Brooks and Smith each had 50-yard touchdown runs in the opening period. Smith added the first two-point conversion on a run, then found Brooks for the second with a pass.
Mekhi Young set up the third Middlesboro touchdown with an interception at the 3:06 mark of the first quarter. Smith found Deandre Lightfoot with a short pass on the next play that turned into a 50-yard touchdown. Smith threw to Brooks for the two-point conversion and a 24-0 lead.
Gage Bailey picked up a first down for the Dragons with a 12-yard run on the next series, but Nate Montanaro fumbled on the next play and Malaki Coots recovered to end the opening period.
Smith found Xavion Shehan on the next play for a 62-yard scoring strike. Cameron Hammonds made the stop on the two-point conversion but the clock was running at that point with the Jackets up 30-0.
Lightfoot closed the scoring after the Jackets stopped Harlan on downs when he ran 26 yards for a touchdown. Smith added the two-point conversion to end the half.
Middlesboro returns to action Monday at Williamsburg in fifth-and sixth-grade action and Thursday at Lynn Camp in seventh- and eighth-grade action. Harlan is scheduled to play host to Leslie County on Tuesday.


Harlan coach Eric Young talked with his team during a break in Saturday’s game against Middlesboro.