Bears trying to cut on big plays in effort to end two-game skid


Kim Henson

Demarco Hopkins worked to escape from Whitley’s Gunner Thornton in Friday’s game. Hoskins scored both Harlan County touchdowns in a 42-16 loss. The Bears play host to Knox Central on Friday.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Finding a way to stop big plays has been a focus for the Harlan County Black Bears after giving up nine touchdown plays of 30 yards or more over the past two weeks in losses to Hazard and Whitley County.
“If we can stop the big plays then our chances for winning will go way up,” said Harlan County coach Amos McCreary. “Some of it is our overall team speed, but we have got to do a better job of fitting up and being where we are supposed to be. Our fundamentals have got to improve for us to have a chance to win. we have worked very hard  this week on not  running around blocks and getting ourselves out of position to make a play.”
Harlan County (1-2) has had success on the ground through three games despite facing defenses focused on stopping the run. Senior running backs Demarco Hopkins and Luke Carr have rushed for 551 and 329 yards, respectively, while sophomore Thomas Jordan had a breakout performance last week with 147 yards on nine carries, all in the second half. McCreary would like to find more balance with teams stacked against the run.
“We work at it daily and want to get better at as we go along. We think getting (Jonah) Swanner back will help,” McCreary said. “Ethan (Rhymer) is working hard every day. Hopefully, we’re getting better at it where we can throw it around and get them out of the box some.”
Knox Central (2-1) opened the season with a 30-22 win over Clay County before falling 22-14 at Bell County. The Panthers received a covid forfeit win last week over South Laurel.
Marc Warren, a junior who transferred from Corbin, has taken over at quarterback this season and has completed 20 of 40 passes through two games for 284 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Abram Brock, a senior, has 10 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Steve Partin has four catches for 45 yards and Gavin Chadwell has three catches for 35 yards. Chadwell, also a basketball standout, has drawn interest from the University of Kentucky.
“They can throw or run the football. They do both fairly well,” McCreary said. “We don’t want to let them line up and hold the ball. They also have a receiver (Brock) can cause a lot of problems with what he can do after he catches the ball.”
Partin, a sophomore, has led the defense with 32 tackles. Cayden Collins and Devin Hoskins have 18 tackles each.