The Harlan County Black Bears will likely be favored to capture their third region title in the past four seasons next year due in large part to a strong upcoming senior class. However, the program’s future was on display at the Bears’ spring game on Thursday.
“When you put all these kids together there is going to be more depth on the field,” said Harlan County coach Tom Larkey. “We were looking for those kids that can step up and play.”
Freshman quarterback Jarrett Ford connected with Zach Chitwod for the game’s first touchdown. Ford found the junior on a play-action pass from 41-yards out with 6:26 left in the opening quarter to put the white team up 6-0.
Sophomore Zack Wilson then gave the ball back to the white team after returning an interception down to the 22-yard line.
Chitwood raced in from five yards out for his second score. Ford found junior Carson Whitehead for the two-point conversion.
Wilson picked off his second pass on the ensuing possession. Just plays later Ford connected with Wilson on a 43-yard pass. However, Wilson fumbled on the play and the black team recovered at the seven-yard line.
After forcing a stop, freshman Kelin Gist scored from 72-yards out to put the white team up by three scores. Ford ran in the two-point conversion to make it 22-0.
The black team wouldn’t go away quietly.
Sophomore Devin Curry scored his team’s first touchdown on an 18-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The black team closed the gap to 22-14 on its next drive. Junior quarterback Scotty Bailey completed a 36-yard pass to fellow junior Derek Akal, who made a spectacular catch. Curry ran in the two-point conversion.
Hunter Lewis gave the ball back to the black team with 2:58 remaining when he recovered a fumble at the white 31-yard line. However the white defense held to preserve the win.
Thursday’s spring game closes spring practice for the Harlan County Black Bears, and Larkey said he was pleased with the progress of his team.
“This has been about the best spring I have had since I’ve been a coach,” Larkey said. “We had nine good days and 46 kids out, not including the eighth-graders. We have worked hard on fundamentals.”
Harlan County opens the regular season Aug. 24 at Madison Central in the Roy Kidd Bowl.