With 14 straight wins in the past four seasons, the Harlan County senior class has yet to experience a district loss. The Black Bears have the opportunity to complete a perfect district slate and place a fourth-straight championship in the trophy case today as they host Perry Central.
“A fourth straight championship would be a big accomplishment. It’s something the seniors could look back on after they graduate high school and be proud of,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey.
Harlan County has regained its early-season momentum in district play. The Bears outscored Letcher Central and Whitley County by an average of 43 points per game in their first two district contests.
“I think we have come along like in past years. We are continuing to improve and work on fundamentals. We have had really intense competitive practices and that has paid off for us,” Larkey said.
The Bears have been unstoppable on the ground since the start of the district schedule, piling up 834 yards rushing in two outings. Junior Fred Massey had a breakout performance last week at Whitley County. The junior ran for 245 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries against the Colonels.
“(Fred) is getting better every game with more touches. He has gotten better at learning to lower his shoulder and hold on to the football,” Larkey said. “Besides Fred, we have some other guys that we can put out there. It has really helped having several running backs we can throw in the game.”
On the opposite side of the ball, the Bears have been just as impressive. The Harlan County defense has only surrendered 313 yards of offense and 13 points in a pair of wins. Keeping up that pace will be a challenge this week, as Perry Central enters today’s contest scoring over 45 points in two of its last three games. Dual-threat quarterback Nathan Pray leads a balanced Commodore offense. The junior signal-caller has completed 63-of-124 passes for 783 yards and eight touchdowns, while adding 694 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on 109 carries. Seniors Tyler Fugate and John Toomer are Pray’s top targets. The receiving duo has combined to haul in 109 passes for 694 yards and seven scores. Pray is joined in the backfield by senior Devan Brewer, who has rushed for 606 yards and seven touchdowns on 97 carries.
“I think we are going to be able to put pressure on (Pray). The key is to contain him and not let him get outside and beat you on the rush. He is as good at running the football as he is at throwing,” said Larkey.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.