When you consider that the Harlan Green Dragons opened their season with a 51-12 win over visiting South Floyd, while this week’s opponent, Thomas Walker, Va., was losing 41-0 to Lee, Va., it could be easy to see why the Dragons might be looking ahead.
Harlan coach J.B. Donahue only has to remind his team what happened to them last year in a similar situation. The Dragons found themselves down by 15 points in the third quarter at Ewing, Va., before rallying to win 41-28. The two teams will meet against Friday in Harlan.
“I don’t know what the deal was, but we didn’t play well early and had to outlast them the second half,” Donahue said. “We made a couple of big plays, including Noah Busroe’s (100 yard) interception return. We played better in the second half.”
Junior quarterback Jacob Davis is back to lead the Pioneers. He passed for two touchdowns against the Dragons last season.
“He’s a very good athlete,” Donahue said. “He throws the ball pretty well and runs it really well. They also have a couple of other guys who will run it. It will be a good challenge. We have to play good assignment defense.”
Harlan had several with big games in last week’s win, led by sophomore quarterback Kilian Ledford, who ran for a 70-yard touchdown and passed to Caleb Adkins for a 30-yard score.
The Dragons’ power running game was also effective as junior tailback Kendal Brock ran for 63 yards on only four carries and senior fullback Joey Swanner added 57 yards on three carries. Senior wingback Tanner Parks added a 41-yard touchdown run.
Harlan ran only 12 offensive plays in the blowout Friday, scoring on seven.
“That’s a pretty good percentage. We script our first five plays and four were touchdowns,” Donahue said. “We played well defensively. We had a blown assignment early they took advantage of, then they scored late against our reserves.
While the Dragons’ schedule will get tougher as the season progresses, Donahue has reminded his team that the early wins last year paid off when Harlan won a tie-breaker for the District 7 title.
“Competition will get better and we have to keep improving,” Donahue said. “You never know what will happen. We have to make sure to get these victories because every win helps if you do get in a tie-breaker.”
Homecoming festivities are set for 6 p.m. with kickoff slated at 7:30.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134