Dragons ready for prime time matchup against East Ridge in Pike County Bowl


Chris Jones

Harlan senior running back Jayden Ward battled for yardage in Friday’s game against Berea. Ward ran for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the Dragons’ 28-22 victory. Harlan will play East Ridge on Friday at Belfry in the Pike County Bowl.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Even with quarterback Dylan Burdine accounting for 450 yards of offense, the Harlan Green Dragons found a way to rally from a 22-0 deficit last season to edge visiting East Ridge 46-40.
The Green Dragons will try to make it three in a row against the Warriors and 2-0 for the regular season on Friday when they travel to Belfry for the Pike County Bowl in a 6 p.m. matchup slated to be televised on WYMT.
Last year’s game at Harlan was a showdown between quarterbacks as Burdine passed for 339 yards and ran for 111 while Harlan’s Cade Middleton accounted for five touchdowns with 152 yards rushing and 70 yards passing. Middleton graduated, but Burdine is back for his senior year and started strong last week as he completed 13 of 21 passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-34 season-opening win over Waggener. Isaiah Adkins rushed for 111 yards on 13 carries and Burdine added 87 yards on 12 carries. Zach Mason had six catches for 90 yards, including two touchdowns.
“He’s a really good player and they have a couple of good receivers and a running back, but he’s what makes them click,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “We have to limit his big plays. They are a much improved team. They are physically stronger and had a nice win last week against Louisville Waggener. It’s going to be a tall task for us.”
The Green Dragons are also coming off a win as they held off Berea 28-22 at home on Friday. Jayden Ward, a senior running back, led the Green Dragons with 143 yards on 15 carries. Darius Akal, a sophomore, followed with 142 yards on 15 rushes. Ward ran for 162 yards in the Dragons’ win over East Ridge last season.
“We did some good things in that game. We also made a lot of mistakes,” Perry said of last week’s win. “It wasn’t a lack of effort, but if you look at the stats we doubled their total but we barely won. We have to keep from shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Perry said his players are looking forward to the chance to play on television.
“I think the kids are excited to be playing on Belfry’s field and the history there,” Perry said. “The chance to play on WYMT is also a great opportunity for our kids.”