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Middleton back with Bears as assistant

With Jake Middleton leading the way as a star tailback/linebacker, the Harlan County Black won three district titles and two regional championships from 2010 to 2012. His name still is prominent in the HCHS record books, ranking second overall in rushing with 3,938 yards and third in tackles with 407.

Middleton went on to a career with the Kentucky State Police after graduating from Harlan County High School in 2013. After three years at the Campbellsburg post in northern Kentucky, Middleton found his way back to Harlan County to work at Post 10 in Harlan. He also returned to his football home, joining Eddie Creech’s staff to work with running backs/linebackers.

“I would put Jake near the top of the list of the guys who have played here,” Creech said. “He’s as good as we’ve had — not only this team but the county as a whole since I’ve been alive.”

“It’s good to be back and seeing so many familiar faces and coaching alongside some of the coaches I had who helped mold me into the man I am now,” Middleton said. “I hope to be able to show these kids how to work hard and how it leads to success.”

Middleton had an almost immediate impact on the HCHS program when he arrived from Evarts, first on the freshman and junior varsity teams before moving into the starting lineup as a sophomore.

“I always refer to Jake as an iron man. He came in as a freshman and played 12 quarters of football a week, every single down. I’m pretty sure the KHSAA put that rule in limiting how many quarters you can play because of Jake,” Creech said with a laugh. “Jake is an outstanding young man. Everyone who has come in contact with him knows about his integrity and his class. It’s great to have a state policeman on our staff, in addition to what he brings in football.”

Middleton topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark twice with 1,420 yards as a junior and 2,141 yards as a senior when the Bears won their second Class 5A regional title.

The Bears suffered through a couple of down seasons before bouncing back in 2017 to win the region for a third time. Last year’s team started slow but bounced back to win the District 8 title before falling in the second round of the playoffs. Almost everyone is back for this year’s Bears, and Middleton has liked what he has seen so far.

“I see a lot of similarities to the teams we had — a strong line with a lot of strong backs,” Middleton said. “This is ‘Filthy Animal’ kind of defense that gets to the ball. They show a lot of heart.”

Harlan County will play Aug. 9 in a scrimmage at Union College against Southwestern.

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Career rushing

Marcus McMillian 4,271 2012

Jake Middleton 3,938 2011

Dylan Cornett 1,988 2015

Nathaniel Gilliam 1,869 2008

Carson Whitehead 1,864 2013

Quintin Mickens 1,668 2018

T.J. Green 1,579 2009

Jordy Brewer 1,331 2012

Zach Chitwood 1,033 2013

Cody Taylor 997 2012

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Career tackles

Carson Whitehead 575 2013

Garry Henson 422 2018

Jake Middleton 407 2012

Caleb Carmical 349 2017

Zach Chitwood 280 2013

Austin Maggard 238 2012

Quintin Mickens 214 2017

Cole Wilson 208 2013

Marcus McMillan 207 2011

Kainer Caudill 200 2012