By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
The Whitley County Colonels (5-2, 1-0) are one of the hottest teams in the Tri-County, riding a four-game win streak after last week’s 47-28 district win over Perry County Central.
The Colonels will take that streak on the road this week against a team that is a mirror image of them on paper in the Harlan County Black Bears (5-2, 1-0), but Colonel coach Jim Black is quick to point out that comparison on paper can be deceiving.
“That’s true, but when you look at them on film it’s not a mirror with how physical they are,” Black said. “We’ve got to try and match them when it comes to physicality they bring to the game.”
The two teams are close in comparison when it comes to points scored. Harlan County has averaged 37 points per game, while Whitley County has scored 29 points per game this season. Defensivily, the Black Bears have only allowed 17 points per game, while the Colonels are a shade under that number at 16 points per game.
The two teams are similar in the fact they like to run the football and they both do it well.
Harlan County averages 327 yards on the ground, while the Colonels have tallied 308 yards per game rushing. The difference may be the fact the bulk of the Black Bears' numbers have come from senior running back Jake Middleton, who has put up impressive numbers all season.
Middleton has amassed 1,350 yards and 20 touchdowns on 163 carries this season. He comes in at 193 yards per game. The Black Bears do have two more backs in Austin Maggard and Cole Wilson, who have racked up 269 and 347 yards on the year, respectively.
Black said even though Middleton gets the bulk of the carries, he knows his team will not be able to slack off when the other two get in the game.
“They have several guys that will go in and give the Middleton kid a break and they can hurt you as well,” Black said. “Against a team like this, you can’t afford to take any plays off at all because that’s when you get in trouble.
“Our kids have done a good job of not letting up on defense and they’ll have to do even better this week,” he added.
For the Colonels, the running game has been a back-by-committee style of late. In gaining Whitley County’s 2,157 yards, three backs, Zack Mills (548), Austin Hooper (496) and Boston Bryant (413), have all gone over the 400-yard mark. Quarterback Austin Ysidro has done his part as well, tallying 349 yards on the ground so far this season as well.
That trend will have to continue if Black and company hope to come away the winner Friday.
“We have to continue to do the things we’ve been able to all year and one of those is move the football,” Black said. “Our kids have done a good job at knowing their assignments and doing what we’ve asked of them on the field.
“If you execute and do the things that work, it gives you a shot to be in the game in the late stages,” he added. “This game is no different than any other in the fact we have got to execute if we want to have a shot to win.”