Harlan County coach Tom Larkey and standout running back Jake Middleton received big honors recently as both were selected to the National Guard Border Bowl.
After serving as the assistant head coach last season, Larkey was automatically named the head coach of this year’s team.
“It is a great experience. It has become a bigger game now, like it used to be,” Larkey said. “Now, we’re trying to find some players to put on the field to beat Tennessee.”
Larkey will have the opportunity to lead a coaching staff that includes several familiar faces, including North Laurel coach Chris Larkey and Harlan County defensive coordinator Ovie Canady. Other coaches on the Kentucky team include: assistant head coach Joe Prince (Owensboro); and assistants Tony Saylor (Rockcastle County), Mike Holcolmb (Breathitt County), Mike Croley (Bellevue), Bert Brown (Madison Central), Mike Jackson (Ballard) and Shawn Thompson (Wayne County).
“You get to spend some time with these guys that you have known for a long time, and it is very special,” Larkey said. “We have got a great staff. It’s something that a lot of people don’t have the chance to do.”
At least one Black Bear will be on the Kentucky sideline, as Middleton was among only 12 players to receive the initial nomination to the game.
“I’m sure the competition level will be very high. It’s an all-star game, and there will be a lot of talented athletes on one team,” Middleton said. “It will be a great experience.”
The nomination puts the Harlan County back in elite company with Louisville quarterback commit Kyle Bolin (Lexington Catholic); Kentucky lineman commit Jacob Hyde (Clay County); Kansas offensive line commit Joey Bloomfield (Ballard); Toledo quarterback commit Logan Woodside (Franklin County); Ryan Timmons (Franklin County); Jeffrey Canady (Knox Central); Boston Bryant (Whitley County); Michael Jones (Danville); Kentayvus Hopkins (Bourbon County); Tony Messer (Belfry); and Domonick Brown (John Hardin).
“It is a real big honor to see my name on a list with those guys. It is a great opportunity to get out there and show that I can play with people like that and represent Harlan County,” Middleton said.
The Border Bowl is set for January 12th with a tentative start time of 12:30pm at the University of the Cumberlands.