The Perry Central Commodores are 7-1 and have a lot of history on the table Friday night when they take on the Harlan County Black Bears. Here are four things you need to know about this game.
1.) Perry County Central has never been 8-1
The Commodores have fielded several formidable football teams in the past, but 8-1 has never been beside their name in any record book.
In 2009, the Commodores were 6-1 going into the bulk of their district schedule. Their only loss to that point was against Letcher Central. Sound familiar? They ended up dropping back-to-back games to Whitley County and Harlan County and finished 7-3. The poor district showing sent the Commodores to Pulaski County for the first round of the playoffs where their season ended.
In 2011, the Commodores were 7-1 and were nearing the end of the best season in school history. They had earned a big road win against Johnson Central and one of the state’s all-time best rushers, JJ Jude. The Commodores also defeated a tough Knox Central team on a neutral field and took down Whitley County for the first time in school history. While the Commodores ended up finishing the regular season at 8-2, they never made it to 8-1. They lost their last district game before defeating Somerset to finish off the season. What team handed them their second loss to keep them from reaching 8-1? The Harlan County Black Bears.
2.) Perry Central has never won a district title.
It’s been well-documented in our weekly Perry Central columns that the Commodores are chasing their first district title. While winning the championship is still on the table, four teams are currently deadlocked at 2-1 and any of those teams may come out of Friday night’s game as the champion. It all comes down to the final two district games: Perry Central vs Harlan County and Letcher Central vs Whitley. Here is out it can play out.
If Perry and Whitley win:
3. Harlan Co
If Perry and Letcher win:
4. Harlan Co.
If Whitley and Harlan Co. win:
2. Harlan Co
If Harlan Co. and Letcher win:
1. Harlan Co
If the Commodores want to win the district, they have to take down Harlan County and Whitley has to knock off Letcher.
3.) Perry Central has never defeated Harlan County.
The Black Bears have been a thorn in the side of the Commodores ever since they entered the district.
The first time they met on the gridiron was in 2009. Perry was riding high after a strong start to the season and looking to pick up a tough road game in the rain when they met up with the Black Bears. The Commodores busted the game open in the fourth quarter with a 14-0 lead, but quickly gave up two scores to the Black Bears. With only seconds on the clock and his team down 13-14, Coach Tom Larkey made the call to try for a two-point conversion to win the game. The Black Bears punched it in and won a heartbreaker, 15-14.
Jordan Amis was the quarterback for the Commodores in 2009 when Larkey broke their hearts the first time. Five years later, he found himself on the sidelines as the young head coach of a struggling Commodore team. The Black Bears were rebuilding too. Both teams had only two wins between them at that point in the season and the loser of that game was destined for a road trip to Southwestern in the first round of the playoffs. Amis found himself in an identical situation at the end of the game. The Commodores had the lead, gave it up and Larkey decided he would try to punch in a two-point conversion. The Black Bears won, 37-36.
After that season, things took a turn in both Harlan County and Perry County’s football programs and Larkey found himself on the sidelines at Perry Central for a few years and brought along Coach Ovie Canady. Now, Larkey is enjoying retirement while Canady holds the reins for the Commodore program. The two programs are now more intertwined than ever, but it will be all business Friday as both teams vie for a title.
4.) This is the biggest game in the school’s history.
When you look at all the history and everything that is on the line, this is the biggest game in the school’s history.
The school has never been 8-1 or 9-1. That’s on the table.
They have never won a district title. That’s on the table.
They have never beaten Harlan County. That’s on the table.
Also, this is the last chance the Commodores have to win a district title in 5A before the school reclassifies to 4A next season. It’s now or never for the Commodores, and they have to win to make history.
This week’s Perry Central coverage is brought to you by Peoples Bank & Trust of Hazard, Scott Alexander – Perry County Judge-Executive, Hazard Auto Parts, Hazard Village Flea Market and Perry County Tire.