Harlan County’s junior varsity team, the back-to-back league champions, picked up where it left off last year by overpowering visiting Bell County 26-0 on Monday at the Cawood field.
Four Bears reached the end zone and the Harlan County defense controlled the line of scrimmage, making countless tackles in the Bell backfield.
“Coach (Denny) Farmer does a great job with our defense,” Harlan County coach Eddie Creech said. “He gets them in the right position and lets them play. Our defense was dominant. Those guys just get after it, which is what you’re looking for most of all because they don’t get a lot of time to prepare.”
Colby King, a freshman tailback/receiver, capped the first Harlan County scoring drive with a 5-yard run in the first quarter. The two-point conversion attempt was no good.
Freshman quarterback Jacob Branson went to the air for the second Harlan County TD as he connected with Austin Adams, also a freshman, for a 50-yard pass. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
Bell’s final drive of the first half ended when a hard hit by Dillon Day led to a wobbly pass that linebacker Rhett Alred intercepted.
Day made another big play in the third quarter when he recovered a fumble on the Bell 38. Alred, a sophomore running, took over from there with a pair of long runs for first downs before bulling his way in from the 2 with 4:36 left in the third quarter. Alred also added the two-point conversion for a 20-0 lead.
Donald Kelly and Ethan Baird, both leaders in the HCHS defensive effort, combined to bring down a Bell carrier for a loss late in the third quarter to set the stage for the Bears’ final scoring drive.
Morgan Day picked up one first down and Branson ran for another. Michael Brock went 3 yards for the final touchdown. Branson’s pass for the two-point conversion was incomplete.
Baird, a freshman linebacker, helped preserve the shutout when he had a sack on fourth down with 3:36 to play.
“We got a real good rotation going on the offensive front, and they all did well,” Creech said. “These kids have worked hard all summer, so it was great to get them a chance to play.”
Harlan County (1-0) returns to action Sept. 8 at home against Whitley County. The HCHS freshman team opens its season on Thursday at Knox Central.