Harlan County has faced the best teams in southeastern Kentucky in the past few weeks. The Black Bears will now travel to the Greeneville, Tennessee to take on one of the top teams in the Volunteer State.
The Green Devils have cruised to a 4-0 mark this season, outscoring opponents by an average of 41 points per game along the way. Greeneville is currently ranked second in the state in Division 4A by the Associated Press and is 19th overall in Tennessee according to Max Preps. Greeneville advanced from three straight state championship games from 2009-2011, winning the title in the last two appearances.
“It is not getting easier it don’t look like. You go and play Belfry and Johnson Central and then this team. I didn’t schedule all of these teams to have automatic wins. They are giving us some good competition, an we are learning a whole lot about our team by playing this tough of a schedule,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey. “If we would have been playing an easy schedule, we wouldn’t have known what type of team we have got. We may not have found out until it was too late in the regional finals. Right now, we are really finding out who can play and that will help us in the long run.”
The Green Devils have lit up the scoreboard this season, posting nearly 45 points per game in wins over Morristown West, Chuckey-Doak, Jefferson County and Claiborne County. The Greeneville offense will line up primarily out of a spread formation, but is also effective in the Power-I.
“They do a combination of things. Most of the time they are in the shotgun. They like to throw the ball around and have some fabulous receivers. They have a zone-read type of offense, and it is pretty tricky. They are a very athletic football team,” Larkey said.
Greeneville’s spread attack will put even more pressure on a Harlan County defense that will be without both starting corners, as Treyvon Long and Kelin Gist are no longer with the team.
On the defensive side, Greeneville will challenge the Harlan County run game with a 4-4 defensive front.
“They put four men on the line and four linebackers. If you are in a shotgun it is about the same thing. They have a real quick defense,” Larkey said. “I think we are a little more physical football team than they are. We will just have to find out when we get in the game that night.”
Friday’s contest will send the Black Bears into their bye week, and mark the final tune-up before Harlan County opens district play at home against Letcher Central on Oct. 11 in the Friends of Coal Bowl.
“It would be nice to come off of a win. We have that open week coming up, and it seems like it is forever before you play again. So, I feel like coming off a win going into that open week it pretty important for you,” said Larkey.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.