Dragons must overcome injuries to continue winning streak

Ethan+Clem+will+move+back+to+quarterback+this+week+with+Connor+Scearse+out+with+a+season-ending+knee+injury.

Ethan Clem will move back to quarterback this week with Connor Scearse out with a season-ending knee injury.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Even with two straight victories going into Friday’s game against visiting Knott Central, the Harlan Green Dragons have had their share of problems this week trying to work around a rash of injuries that have left them with only 18 bodies in practice this week.
Senior quarterback Connor Scearse and senior center Isaiah Hall have suffered season-ending knee injuries. Jeremiah Mills, a senior receiver/defensive back who led the team in tackles last season, must sit out the game after being ejected in last week’s Berea game. Malachi Rodriguez and Landon Perkins are both out as part of the concussion protocol. Darius Akal, the freshmen receiver who caught the game-tying touchdown against Berea, is out with a shoulder injury.
“I’d feel really good if we had everyone ready to play, but with the makeshift lineup we have I don’t know what to expect,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “We’ll have people playing out of position, but we have no choice. The kids have had a good attitude, and we just have to keep working.”
Ethan Clem is expected to move from running back to take over at quarterback with Scearse sidelined. Triston Cochran and Jayden Ward will start in the backfield with Shane Lindsey backing up at quarterback and running back. Evan Browning and Donovan Montanaro will play receiver.
Knott Central has traditionally struggled in football and posted a 2-9 mark last year. The Patriots opened this season with a 16-12 win at home against Betsy Layne but haven’t played since with last week’s game against Breathitt County canceled due to high coronavirus numbers in Knott.
“We still don’t know we are going to play for sure. We could even play Saturday,” Perry said. “They are trying to get their numbers down over there. We are taking it day by day.”
Knott Central featured a balanced running game against Betsy Layne with Will Weinberg rushing for 57 yards on 11 carries, followed by Peyton Slone with 47 yards on nine carries, Ethan Combs with 44 yards on 11 carries and Michael Howell with 43 yards on four carries. Kizer Slone completed three of seven passes for 125 yards, including a touchdown pass to Combs. Landon Smith had two catches for 80 yards.
“I think they are improved from last season,” Perry said. “They are pretty balanced and typically want to run the ball. They will throw it five or six times.”
After opening the season with a loss to Middlesboro (44-0), the Dragons bounced back with road wins over East Ridge (2918) and Berea (22-20).
“We didn’t play very well last week, but we found a way to win at the end,” Perry said. “If we can cut down on the personal fouls and play more disciplined, I think we will be OK down the road. Practices have still been good. We just don’t have enough bodies right now.”