Post-game video stirs emotions

Published 1:23 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

By Jordan Brooks

A smartphone video made the rounds on social media after Middlesboro’s 14-6 win Friday over Harlan County, and it has triggered emotions on both sides of the rivalry.

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The video shows a Middlesboro assistant coach addressing players on a team bus, much of which is unintelligible, followed by Yellow Jacket players shouting expletives about Harlan County.

During the game, Harlan County’s Jonah Swanner suffered a knee injury on a sideline play and was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center for evaluation.

Middlesboro athletic director Ben Slusher declined to comment to the News, but did release a statement earlier in the week.

The statement reads: “It has been brought to our attention that some of our MHS students posted to social media using inappropriate language last night following the Harlan County – Middlesboro football game. We take the sportsmanship of our athletes very seriously and a full investigation will be conducted. Middlesboro High School football has a standard of excellence to which each player and coach is held accountable. We have reached out to the administration of the Harlan County Schools to apologize for the event and to continue to offer our thoughts and prayers for the Black Bear athlete who was injured during play.”

Harlan County Athletic Director Eugene Farmer also declined to comment, other than to ask for prayers for Swanner and to confirm that officials from Middlesboro indeed reached out afterward to apologize.

“Jonah Swanner is being further evaluated for a very serious leg/knee injury,” he said. “All thoughts and prayers for him are certainly appreciated.”