BAXTER, Ky. - The hit television show Justified is set in Harlan County, Ky. and at times they have mentioned the local high school sports teams.
The Black Bears, ranked No. 3 in Class 5A, hosted the Belfry Pirates on Friday night in Harlan County. The Pirates went into the game ranked No. 2 in Class 3A.
The final score justified Belfry’s lofty ranking as they whipped Harlan County 21 to 12 to give the Black Bears (2-1) their first loss of the season.
The Pirates improved to 2-0 with the win over an eastern Kentucky power.
The Pirates trailed at halftime, but got two second half touchdowns to pull ahead of the Black Bears.
Speedy senior tailback Justin Johnson rushed for 143 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown, while sophomore Xondre Willis rushed for 52 yards and a score to help the Pirates over the larger school.
Junior running back Austin Hatfield rushed for 143 yards on 10 carries.
Belfry’s other touchdown came on a 55-yard pass play from senior Sani Warren to junior wide out Keaton Taylor.
Freshman kicker Austin Woolum booted all three extra points.
Warren, a senior quarterback/cornerback had an interception on defense.
“We had a big defensive stand in the fourth quarter,” assistant coach Matt Varney said. “That was inside the 10 yard line. Sani tackled one of their running backs for a loss.”
“Our punter Devin Wellman pinned them on the one yard line late in the game and that was a big play for us,” Varney added.
Hayden Hatfield led the defense with 16 tackles for coach Philip Haywood’s squad. Dakota Stanley had nine, while Ray Horton and Austin Hall each had seven for the Pirates.
Varney said Belfry gave up one TD on a tight end reverse and on the other, the player scrambled and the Pirates missed a couple of tackles to give up the score.
“They had an athletic team and it was a beautiful stadium,” Varney said of Harlan County.
“We’re young in certain positions and we are still making some mistakes. We have a lot to work on, but we’re getting better,” Varney said.
Belfry will stay on the road this week with a trip to Southwest Pulaski County.
Note: The Belfry High School 2003 Class AA State Championship football team will be recognized at the Belfry vs. Lawrence County game on Friday, October 18. There will be a reception for all members of the team prior to the game in the cafeteria at 6:00 p.m. Introductions will be made during halftime. All members are encouraged to spread the word to their teammates. For additional information call Coach Philip Haywood or Coach Anthony Tackett at 606-237-3900.
Score by quarters:
Belfry … 0 7 14 0 - 21
Harlan … 6 6 0 0 - 12