The Harlan offense exploded for 58 points to lift the Green Dragons to their first win of the season last week. The Dragons will likely need another big night from the offensive side of the ball today, as they host Class A power Hazard in the district opener.
Hazard has been the preeminent Class A program in eastern Kentucky for nearly the last decade. The Bulldogs have advanced to the state title game in two of the past three seasons, winning it all in 2011. They have also captured six straight district championships.
“They have got a top notch program. They have been to the state championship numerous times,” said Harlan coach J.B. Donahue.
Hazard has traditionally featured a aerial offensive attack under coach Mark Dixon, but the Bulldogs have turned to the ground more this season. Brandon Jones leads the run game. The junior back has already piled up 962 yards and 10 touchdowns on 95 carries this season. Senior Kody Arnett has 298 yards and five scores on 34 touches, while sophomore Cade Fletcher has added 211 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries.
Tanner Morgan has also been solid in the passing game for the Dawgs. The freshman quarterback has completed 67 passes for 1,010 yards and 11 scores. Basketball standout Chris Hudson is Morgan’s top target. Hudson has hauled in 26 passes for 448 yards and six touchdowns.
“They have a well balanced offense. They don’t throw it as much as year’s past, but they have an excellent running back in Jones and good size to throw to. They can cause a lot of problems with their offense,” Donahue said. “I think we have to stop the run game. They are predominantly a run team. They run the ball a great deal with success. They are very good up front, so trying to stop run will be a top priority”
To keep the ball away from Hazard, the Green Dragons will look to get the ground game going and put together time-consuming drives for the second straight week. Harlan posted 395 yards and six touchdowns on 59 carries last week.
“Controlling the football is big for us. Keeping the ball away from them will be our best defense. If we can hold on to it on offense it would be a great help to our defense,” Donahue said.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.