Dragons face toughest test of season with trip to Middlesboro


Jon Dickenson

Dylan Middleton battled for yardage in the Green Dragons’ win over East Ridge. Harlan travels to Middlesboro on Friday.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

There seems to be little doubt at this point that the Harlan Green Dragons are an improved team from a year with three straight wins to open the season before taking last week off with an open date on the schedule.
The Dragons will have an opportunity to find out exactly how much better they are in a trip to Middlesboro on Friday to take on a squad that has dominated the series in recent years, winning 13 of 16 games this century. This year’s Jackets are 2-2 with blowout wins the last two weeks over Garrard County and Lynn Camp after opening the season with losses to Hazard and Williamsburg.
“It’s a typical Middlesboro team with lots of speed. They are also well-coached and disciplined. It’s a tall task,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “I think this will be a good measuring stick for us. We feel we’ve gotten better every week, but the competition level steps up a little. We’re preparing and feel like we’ll go over there and have a good showing.”
While the Jackets lost several of their top weapons from last year’s 13-1 team that rolled past Harlan 44-6, quarterback Cayden Grigsby is back to run the offense. Grigsby is a dual threat who has passed for 451 yards and has rushed for a team-high 372 yards.
“He’s the guy who stirs the drink, I guess you could say. He’s a tough kid with great speed and great vision. He can run or throw, but everything goes through him,” Perry said. “They have some other capable guys as well, but he’s the one you have to key on.”
Vincent Smith, a former standout for the Dragons in middle school, has taken over for Caleb Bogonko as the primary ball carrier. He’s rushed for 335 yards on 50 carries, with five touchdowns. Jack Yoakum has added 135 yards on only nine carries. Kameron Wilson leads the team in both receptions and yardage with 11 for 178 yards. Rylee Foster has eight catches for 145 yards.
“He’s a good looking kid,” Perry said of Smith. “He’s not as big and physical as Bogonko, but he has good speed. They want to get him the ball in space. They also have some playmakers on the edge.”
Jayden Ward and Darius Akal have led a balanced ground game for the Dragons with 353 and 313 yards, respectively. Donovan Montanaro has completed five of 18 passes for 38 yards with Will Austin catching three passes for 23 yards.
Senior linebacker Robert Sanford leads the Harlan defense with 20 tackles. Dylan Middleton is second with 19 tackles, followed by Ryley Mefford with 12 tackles and Noah Kirby with 11.