BARBOURVILLE — After a 34-7 loss to Williamsburg in the Southeastern Kentucky Conference Gridorama, the Harlan Green Dragons can find at least two positives to take out of the scrimmage as they prepare for their season opener Friday at Leslie County.
The Dragons won’t have to play anyone as good as the Yellow Jackets during the regular season and they won’t have to see them again until 2015, unless they meet in the playoffs.
Williamsburg was as good advertised with almost everyone back from an 11-3 squad a year ago that won the school’s first regional football title and advanced to the Class A state finals before losing to Mayfield.
The Jackets are still loaded with weapons. Skylar Griffith moved from receiver to quarterback and threw for 214 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. Senior receiver Chase Lowrie had four catches for 171 yards in the first half, including two touchdowns as Williamsburg built a 27-0 halftime. Senior tailback Fred Massey, who rushed for well over 1,000 yards last season with Harlan County, provided the ground threat with one touchdown, even though his touches were limited on a pass-happy offense.
“That’s a good, confident football team playing against a bunch of young kids,” said Harlan coach J.B. Donahue, whose Green Dragons were 2-9 last year and lost a big senior class for the second straight year.
Harlan held the Jackets on their first possession, but they weren’t as successful on the second as Griffith found Lowrie open across the middle for an 80-yard strike. Brently Patrick’s extra point made the score 7-0 with 8:35 to play in the first of two 15-minute halts.
Corey Shelton, another senior receiver who had over 1,000 yards receiving last year, was wide open off a Griffith play fake and caught a pass he turned into a 59-yard touchdown with 5:12 left in the opening quarter.
Lowrie and Shelton each had first down catches after Hunter Browning forced and recovered a fumble when he hit sophomore quarterback Tanner Parks as he prepared to throw. Massey capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle with 2:36 to play in the opening half. Patrick’s extra point extended the Jackets’ lead to 20-0.
Backup quarterback Alex Patterson, a strong-armed junior, got into the act when he found Lowrie for a 51-yard TD pass with 45.5 seconds left. Patrick hit the extra point.
Harlan picked up three first downs in the first half on runs by Tanner Morris, Nick Powers and Kendal Brock.
The Dragons got their first break on the opening play of the second as Griffith was unable to handle a high snap. Parks, playing linebacker, hustled down field and won a battle with Griffith for the loose on the Williamsburg 3. Brock, a freshman running back, scored two plays later on a 1-yard run. Boone Allison’s extra point cut the deficit to 20 with 13:10 to play in the scrimmage.
Williamsburg wasted no time answering as Patterson broke free for a 70-yard run down the sideline for a touchdown. Patrick hit the extra point.
Morris, who moved from quarterback to tailback, led Harlan on its next drive, picking up first downs on runs of 20, 2 and 11 yards as the Dragons drove deep into Williamsburg territory. Powers also ran for a first down as the Dragons made it inside the 10 before Morris was stopped short on fourth down.
“We had some positives to build on. We moved them on the line at times I may say this a lot this year, but we had some good leadership from Tanner Morris and Tye Patrick. These young kids are going to be pretty good before it’s over,” Donahue said. “I keep telling them we will be a lot better in October than we are in August.”
Harlan will open its regular season schedule Friday at Leslie County. Williamsburg plays host to Knoxville Halls on Friday.