Football notebook: Dragons lose district shootout, Bears downed by Southwestern
Published 3:30 pm Monday, October 2, 2023
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By John Henson
Contributing Sports Writer
Dragons fall to Middlesboro in district clash
Two years after making a run to the state semifinals in 2A and with the goal of doing it again in 1A this year, the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets and coach Larry French were feeling more than a little fortunate after hanging on for a 40-24 win Friday at Harlan.
The Jackets gave up 257 yards on the ground, including 202 yards and two touchdowns to junior tailback Darius Akal, as they found themselves in a shootout in a first half that featured 48 points. The Middlesboro defense made a couple of stops down the stretch after the Dragons had pulled within eight points in the third quarter. Middlesboro moved to 2-0 in district play and 4-2 overall.
Harlan fell to 1-6 after its sixth straight loss but showed improvement against a Middlesboro squad that was the preseason favorite in District 7.
“I thought we played really well offensively,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “We ran the football like we wanted. Our offensive line played awesome and reverted back to their old self. We did that against Middlesboro last year. We got behind and had to take some chances, but all in all I’m pretty pleased. Kudos to Middlesboro for making enough plays to win. I was proud of the kids for not falling apart with a little adversity. If we keep going, we’ll be a tough out for somebody (in the playoffs).”
Middlesboro senior quarterback/defensive back Cayden Grigsby, the district’s preseason player of the year, electrified the crowd before many were settled in their seats as he found a seam on the kickoff in an 82-yard touchdown return. He threw to Jack Yoakum for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead only 16 seconds into the game.
Middlesboro travels to Pineville on Friday. Harlan is open next week before traveling to Lynn Camp on Oct. 13.
The Southwestern Warriors have finally begun to look like their usual selves after falling in their first two contests, as they have won three straight heading into their second district clash of the season against the winless Harlan County Black Bears.
Southwestern rolls past HCHS in 5A district clash
The Warriors were expected to win this one running away and after just one half of football at the Reservation the outcome of the game was academic, as Southwestern cruised to a 49-12 victory over the now 0-6 Black Bears.