Green Dragons hope to build on hot start and end Williamsburg’s district dominance in process


Jon Dickenson

Harlan running back Jayden Ward followed his blocks for a gain in last week’s game against Phelps. The 5-1 Green Dragons return to action Friday at Williamsburg.

By John Henson, M

It’s been seven years since the Harlan Green Dragons beat Williamsburg on a rainy Friday night at Joe Gilley Stadium.
It’s no coincidence that is also the last time the Green Dragons won a district championship in football and the last time Williamsburg didn’t.
With a 5-1 record heading into Friday’s game at Williamsburg, the Green Dragons clearly have their best shot at ending both streaks. The Jackets have won six straight and 10 of the last 11 against Harlan.
We feel we match up better. I don’t think we matched up bad last year athletically,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “We were young up front last year and not very strong. I think that year in the weight room has paid off for us. We’ll see if it pays off for us one more time.”
Williamsburg entered the season as a heavy favorite for another district title with most of their key players expected to return, but the Jackets lost receivers Martin Shannon and Bryson Potter to transfers and haven’t been as explosive as usual. The Jackets opened the season with one-point wins over Oneida, Tenn., and Middlesboro followed by a two-point victory over Leslie County. Williamsburg lost 38-28 at Somerset and 35-21 at Sayre the last two weeks to fall to 4-2 on the season.
“They are still really good, and they are still the champion. They aren’t going to give it up easily,” Perry said. “It’s going to be a dogfight, and we know that. It will be four quarters and it will be tight. I feel if we play like we are capable, we should be there in the end.”
The Green Dragons have a 50-42 win over the same Sayre team that defeated Williamsburg. Harlan suffered its only loss against Middlesboro, a team the Jackets defeated.
“I think they are confident,” Perry said of his team going into its district opener. “I was a little disappointed in our practice the last couple of weeks because I thought we were a little too loosey goosey, but I think that is just how this group is. They seem focused, and I think we’ll be ready come Friday.”
“They are athletic and a very fast team and play downhill,” Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron said. “We just need to line up correctly, play solid defense and keep our shoulders square. Offensively, we need to take what is there. They have a good football team. Coach Perry has done a great job. They are playing hard.”
Senior quarterback Sydney Bowen, the district player of the year last season, has carried the Williamsburg offense with 558 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, along with 761 yards passing. He has completed 58 of 127 attempts with five touchdowns and five interceptions.
“He’s a load. He’s a big and physical kid who can throw it a mile,” Perry said. “He’ll take off running at any time. He’s a well-rounded player and is definitely our main focus. There is no doubt about that.”
Jayden Ward and Darius Akal have led the Harlan offense with 612 and 482 yards rushing, respectively, through six games. Donovan Montanaro has completed 12 of 29 passes for 279 yards, including eight for 176 yards to Will Austin.
R. W. Sanford has led the Harlan defense with 49 tackles. Dylan Middleton has added 38 tackles.

Harlan defensive back Will Austin moved in for a tackle in the Dragons’ win over Sayre earlier this season. (Chris Jones)