By John Henson / For the Times-Tribune
WHITLEY COUNTY — Using a familiar formula for success, the Harlan County Black Bears moved within one win of a fourth straight District 8 title and added to Whitley County's season-long woes in the process, steamrolling to a 51-6 win Friday.
Harlan County controlled the football, scoring on seven of eight possessions, and churned up 432 yards on the ground and 22 first downs in improving to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in district action.
“I was real proud of our offense, the way we moved the chains all night long. We had a lot of big plays and several running backs did a great job,” Harlan County coach Tom Larkey said.
Junior tailback Fred Massey led the HCHS ground assault with 232 yards on 20 carries. Seniors Cole Wilson, with 53 yards, and Whitehead, with 51, supplied an effective complement to Massey as Wilson provided a big-play threat on the outside and Whitehead supplied the power up the middle. Senior quarterback Scotty Bailey added 41 yards and nose guard-turned-running back Bobby Huff added 36 yards on only three carries and continued to provide an unexpected boost with his kick returns.
Whitley had limited success on the ground early but ended up averaging less than two yards per carry with 68 yards rushing on 37 carries. The Colonels had a chance to score with the game still close in the second quarter but was turned back by the HCHS defense.
Harlan County scored on all three of its possessions in the first half, beginning with a nine-play, 74-yard march that featured two 13-yard runs by Massey and a 10-yard run by Huff. Whitehead went the final five yards for a touchdown with 3:54 left in the first quarter. Massey was able to break free from a defender and went in for the two-point conversion.
A long return by Huff got the Bears off to a good start in the third quarter. Massey had runs of 10 and 13 yards before going the final 27 for a touchdown with 9:13 to play in the third quarter. Whitehead pushed the lead to 30-0 with a two-point conversion.
Harlan County's inability to pick up a first down on a fourth-and-one from its 21 set up the only Whitley touchdown, a 21-yard run by junior fullback by Brad Mason with 6:48 left in the third period. Mills was stopped on the two-point conversion.
The Bears answered with an eight-play, 61-yard drive as Massey went five yards for a touchdown with 3:33 left in the third quarter. Bailey added the conversion.
Harlan County's defense quickly put the Bears in position to score again as Whitehead sacked Luke Woods on third down and junior cornerback Nick Cornett picked off a Woods pass on fourth down. Huff went 10 yards for a touchdown with 10:38 left, capping a six-play, 65-yard drive, and starting a running clock for the fifth time in five HCHS wins. Wilson boomed through the extra point.
A 30-yard punt return by Bailey set up the final HCHS touchdown, a three-yard burst by freshman fullback Rhett Alred with 5:14 left.