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Cougar football ready to step up by moving down

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By Mike Farner

SHEPHERDSVILLE - While it is not new news, it is now time that Bullitt Central can start looking forward to a shift from Class 6-A to 5-A for the next two seasons at least.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association made that decision back in August, but since it doesn’t take affect until next season, there wasn’t a lot of reason to talk about it. The only thing making the announcement so early did was allow schools to start the scheduling process for the next two seasons.

This was not a full-blown realignment of the state for football. There were just a handful of changes. In fact, the move of Bullitt Central might have been the biggest news for football in the state over the next two years. For most schools, like Bullitt East and North Bullitt, nothing changed.

It is believed that the KHSAA will take a major look at realigning the whole state again for the 2011 season, but that is far off at this point. The new alignment posted on this page will be in affect for at least the next two seasons.

Obviously, the changes are a godsend to Bullitt Central. The Cougars were basically the smallest Class 6-A school in the state the past two seasons and with the realignment of students within Bullitt County by the Bullitt County Board of Education, the Shepherdsville school was not getting any bigger.

Present Bullitt Central athletic director Mark Rogers had pleaded with the KHSAA two years earlier to drop his school down in class based on a projected decline. That didn’t work, but the KHSAA did allow a minor realignment of the other Jefferson County teams in the Cougars’ district the past two seasons.

Still, nobody is crying over the move to Class 5-A. Gone from the schedule will be state power Male as well as Fern Creek. Bullitt Central will continue to play Southern, but that game will no longer be a district contest.

Now, it appears that the Cougars will be much more competitive in a district that includes John Hardin, Iroquois, Waggener and Doss. Last season, Doss won the district by beating John Hardin. Both teams advanced to the regional final where John Hardin reversed that outcome, 42-28. John Hardin then lost 35-29 to Christian County in the state semi-finals.

A year earlier, John Hardin had reached the regional final.

Obviously, John Hardin is the program that the rest of the teams in the district want to be like. Head coach Mark Brown won a state championship at Nelson County and he has built the Bulldogs into one of the best programs in the area.

“John Hardin will be the favorite and then us and Doss,” Bullitt Central head coach Danny Leasor said just after the Cougars’ season was complete. “I’m not conceding anything to John Hardin. I’m just saying that they have been there. You try to finish first or second to have a home field advantage.”

Bullitt Central has no history hosting a play-off game, but that is certainly a goal well within reach next season.

There is also no reason to fret that a play-off spot is not a guarantee next season in a five-team district. If the Cougars can’t finish in the top four in this district, they have no business playing an 11th game.

Bullitt Central has beaten Iroquois each of the past two seasons. The Cougars were once in the same district as Waggener but are 0-4 against the Wildcats. Oddly, Bullitt Central has never played Doss.

Iroquois finished 3-7 last season and Waggener was 0-10 as they were two of the worst teams in Class 5-A.

Doss is really the wildcard. For a number of years they were pretty weak, competing in an old Class 3-A district (when the state had just four classes instead of six) with North Bullitt and Bullitt East. Toward the end of that run the Dragons started getting better under then head coach Ty Scroggins. Two years ago, Scroggins left for Central (and has won two state titles). The present coach is LaKunta Farmer.

Doss beat North Bullitt this past season 20-7 behind quarterback Demetric Unseld, one of the best players in Jefferson County. It will be interesting to see how the Dragons advance without Unseld.

In addition, Bullitt Central also gets a new cross-district rotation. A first-round play-off game will be against one of five teams from a group that includes Anderson County, Grant County, Oldham County, South Oldham and Jeffersontown.

I can safely say that none of those teams will be as good as Male or Madison Central, the last two teams Bullitt Central faced in the post-season.

The Cougars will have a regular season game next season against Anderson County after playing the Bearcats each of the past two seasons. Bullitt Central has faced both of the Oldham County schools a number of times, but has never played Grant County or Jeffersontown.

Another KHSAA Change

One other change that the KHSAA mandated for football over the next two seasons is that they changed the scheduling grid for district games.

As local fans recall, all three Bullitt County teams played their district games at two-week intervals in the middle of the season for the last two years. Now, all district games will be played in the sixth to ninth week of the season. No district games can be scheduled on the last week of the regular season, which is why Bullitt Central and North Bullitt will play that week for the next two seasons.

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2009-2010 Football Alignment

Class 5-A, Region 2

District 3: BULLITT CENTRAL, Doss, Iroquois, John Hardin, Waggener

District 4: Anderson County, Grant County, Jeffersontown, Oldham County, South Oldham

Class 4-A, Region 2

District 3: Atherton, Breckinridge County, Fairdale, Valley, Western

District 4: BULLITT EAST, NORTH BULLITT, LaRue County, Marion County