Bears hoping for another late surge as they prepare for Perry

By John Henson, Managing Editor

The options are clear for the Harlan County Black Bears heading into their district clash Friday at Perry Central — lose and travel to defending state champ Johnson Central for the first round of the playoffs or win and head to Letcher Central for a chance at revenge following a hard-fought loss earlier this season.
The Bears have made a habit of late-season surges since the program began in 2008, including recovering from a 1-4 start in 2017 to win a regional championship. HCHS brings a 1-4 record into Friday’s game coming off a 33-2 loss last week at home against Johnson Central.
“I feel we play our best football the colder it gets. We tend to peak toward the end of the year,” Harlan County coach Eddie Creech said. “I hope we can build on some of the toughness and grit we showed against Johnson Central. We want to continue to build on that. I tell the kids each week the scoreboard will take care of itself. We just have to show up with the ‘no quit’ mentality.”
Perry Central will bring a 2-4 record into the game. The Commodores opened with a 37-23 win over Pike Central, then suffered losses to North Laurel (46-7), Letcher Central (28-7), Paintsville (43-0) and Johnson Central (75-24) before beating Clay County 32-24 last week.
Kobee Eldridge leads the Perry offense with 250 yards rushing on 55 carries. Elijah Gayheart and Cade Miller have added 180 and 108 yards, respectively.
Chanse Mckenzie, a senior, has completed 32 of 55 passes for 278 yards. Charles Mullins, a junior, has completed 17 of 48 passes for 259 yards. Cade Miller leads in receptions with 21 for 298 yards and five touchdowns.
“They have two playmakers in (Eldridge) and (Miller),” Creech said. “(Eldridge) is a big, strong kid who has speed. (Miller) is shifty and took a bubble screen to the house against Johnson Central. We have to be able to limit their big plays.”