Dragons focusing on maintaining momentum in final test before opening district play


Chris Jones

Harlan’s Jayden Ward headed outside as Dylan Middleton blocked in last week’s win over Sayre. The 4-1 Green Dragons travel to Phelps on Friday.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Coming off back-to-back thrillers that came down to the final play, a loss at Middlesboro two weeks ago and a win at home over Sayre on Friday, the Harlan Green Dragons come to the part of their schedule where they can exhale as they travel to Phelps to take on the 0-5 Hornets.
Coaches, however, don’t like the idea of their team thinking any game is going to easy and coach Eric Perry is no exception. Even if the chances of losing are almost non-existent, Perry knows the Dragons can’t afford a letdown as they head into their district schedule, starting Oct. 7 at Williamsburg.
“We know they’re down. It kind of reminds me of the first year I took over with not a lot of kids and totally in a rebuild mode,” Perry said. “We know we’ll be a heavy favorite. We’re working on us this week. We have two weeks to get ready for district play, and we want to be fundamentally sound when we go down there and play hard but keep things in perspective.”
Phelps was in danger of not having a team this past summer and dropped out of district play with little chance of competing against district heavyweights Pikeville and Hazard. The Hornets have only 19 players listed on their Kentucky High School Athletic Association roster and have been outscored 246-46 in consecutive losses to Pineville, Montcalm, W.Va., Prestonsburg, Hurley, Va., and Betsy Layne.
Harlan has featured a strong ground game led by senior Jayden Ward with 584 yards rushing and sophomore Darius Akal with 414 yards. Senior receiver Will Austin has six of the Dragons’ eight receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior linebacker R.W. Sanford has led the Harlan defense with 42 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown to close out the win over Sayre. Dylan Middleton is second with 31 tackles.