With both teams entering at just 1-2 after difficult schedules to open the season, Friday’s contest between Harlan and Middlesboro has the potential to be a springboard game for the winner.
“It would be an unbelievable win against a very good Harlan team. They return just about everybody, and we are still extremely young,” said Middlesboro coach Randy Frazier. “Our schedule has been tough, and we think we are hitting the part of our schedule where we have to compete.”
“If we can play well and get a win this week it could give us a little confidence on down the schedule,” said Harlan coach J.B. Donahue. “It is important to gain confidence going into the rest of the year.”
The Green Dragons picked up a rare victory over the Yellow Jackets in a 48-42 overtime victory last season. Middlesboro lost standout quarterback Chase Roark from that squad, but the Jackets return plenty of athletes on the offensive side of the ball, including wingbacks Jake Brock and Donnie Foister, fullback Parker Uhl and a pair of 6-4 receivers in Austin Poindexter and Zach Riddle.
“They still have several athletes. They do a good job of trying to get them out in space. We have to play good assignment football on defense and try to stop their passing game,” Donahue said. “They still throw the ball well to the outside, so we have to be able to cover the deep ball, as well as stop their Wing-T running game.”
Meanwhile, Harlan’s offense returns virtually everyone and should provide yet another difficult test for the Jackets’ D.
“We have to establish something on the ground, and we have to complete passes. But, defense wins football games, and we have to stop some people,” Frazier said.
Stopping people has been the problem in each of Middlesboro’s losses this season, as it gave up a combined 84 points in against 3A powers Bell County and Bourbon County.
“We just have to make tackles. When we are presented with the opportunity to tackle someone we have to tackle. We have to get to the ball,” Frazier said. “Obviously, we have to stop the run, but Ty Saragas is an outstanding quarterback and has some big receivers to throw to.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.