Dragons get another shot at redemption against a Sayre squad that dominated last year


Jon Dickenson

Donovan Montanaro and the Harlan offense will take on a big challenge Friday at home against Lexington Sayre. The Green Dragons bring a 3-1 record into the game.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

From a 38-point loss last year at home to a one-point loss last Friday at Middlesboro, the Harlan Green Dragons demonstrated how much they’ve improved even as they fell inches short of an upset on a failed two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter.
The Green Dragons get another shot at turning around a lopsided score from a year ago when they play host to a Sayre squad that blitzed them 42-0 a year ago in Lexington.
“Sayre still has a really good team,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “They are physical up front, and they still have some quality skill kids. They are going to be a handful, but we like our chances. This is much like last week because I think we can compete up front. These two teams back to back might be the two most physical teams we play, but we’ve come a long way up front. Our strength is so much better, and we expect a dogfight like last week.”
The Spartans are off to a 3-1 start this year with wins over Eminence, Fort Knox and Dayton and a loss two weeks ago to Frankfort, which is Perry’s alma mater.
Sayre lost several key players from last year’s squad, including star quarterback Cole Pennington, who went on to play at Marshall. His replacement is his brother, Luke, a sophomore who has completed 44 of 69 passes for 619 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. Travis Smith leads the team in rushing with 203 yards on 38 carries. Charlie Slabaugh has 20 catches for 265 yards and Brock Coffman has 13 receptions for 193 yards.
“He’s going to be a really good one. He’s a heady kid,” Perry said. “He doesn’t have the arm strength the other one does yet, but he will in time. He still has a good arm though. He can throw it and they can run the ball also. They mix it up pretty well. We have to be attacking downhill and our secondary has to be playing their responsibilities. We also need to be able to run the ball. They are good on defense, just like we are.”
The Dragons have given up only 330 yards rushing through four games. Robert Sanford and Dylan Middleton have led Harlan on defense with 28 and 25 tackles, respectively.
Jayden Ward has led a balanced Harlan ground game with 440 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Darius Akal has added 374 yards and two touchdowns. Will Austin leads in receptions with four for 70 yards.