Lee (1-2) opened the season with a 6-0 loss to Powell Valley, Va., then overpowered Harlan 43-0 before falling apart in a 33-10 loss to Middlesboro.
“We’ve got to get better. We’re kind of struggling right now,” Lee coach Bobby Sanders said. “We’ve lost a couple of tough games to pretty good football teams. We just need to come out Friday night and try to go back to what we do best and establish a running game.”
Senior quarterback Tyler Mullins has led the Generals’ offense with 211 yards passing, completing 16 of 37 passes, and 107 yards rushing on 30 carries. Freshman tailback Tyler Graham has rushed for 352 yards on 53 carries.
“Their speed concerns me a whole lot,” Harlan County coach Tom Larkey said. “Their quarterback scrambles well and throws the ball well. He’s a threat, and we have to keep him contained. Our defense has a challenge this week.”
Harlan County’s defense has been impressive the past two weeks with shutouts of Lynn Camp and Fleming County. The Black Bears held Fleming County to minus 80 yards on the ground in a dominating defensive effort Saturday led by sophomore end Jordan Calton, senior tackle Cody Ison and senior linebacker/end Phillip Maggard.
“They look like a great football team,” Sanders said. “I understand, they have something like 30 starters back from last year with the three teams combining, so they have a lot of experience. You can also tell on film they are very athletic.”
The Bears have several question marks on offense coming into the game as senior quarterback Zach Blanton is considered doubtful due to a broken left wrist. Larkey said T.J. Green, who shifted from tailback, will open at quarterback if Blanton is unable to play. Green started several games at quarterback last season for Cawood.
Harlan County (2-1) is also without sophomore wide receiver Dylon Smith, who is out for disciplinary reasons along with linebacker Dwight Burgan and guard Jordan Marshall.
Senior tailback Nathaniel Gilliam has led the Black Bears through three games, rushing for 261 yards with five touchdowns. Junior Shequille Clark has added 100 yards on 10 carries.
Lee is led on defense by a pair of senior linebackers — Nick Stapleton and Brandon Mullins.
“They’ve got a lot of speed, especially on defense,” Larkey said. “Their offensive line has some big kids.”
The Bears have a huge district game set for next week in their home opener against Breathitt County, but Larkey is more concerned with building on the momentum of the past two weeks.
“Every game is important, and we’ve got to continue to try to work and get better every week. I think this game will help us prepare for the future games with the caliber of team we’re playing this week.”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.