East, North broadsided by district news from KHSAA

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By Mike Farner

SHEPHERDSVILLE - In one of the strangest, and most unexpected, moves handed down by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA), Bullitt East and North Bullitt suddenly find themselves sitting in a six-team football district for next season.

The news came in an email early last week from Julian Tackett of the KHSAA office announcing that because of the new high school in Shelby County, Martha Layne Collins High School, that both of the schools in Shelbyville will immediately move to Class 4-A.

The move is for next season, right in the middle of the two-year scheduling formula. So, instead of just switching the playing sites for next year, both local schools, along with Marion County and LaRue County, had to force new games onto their schedules and also drop teams that they expected to play.

As one local coach put it, “it’s crazy, isn’t it.”

Well crazy for a number of reasons. First, there had to be some way to put this off until the next scheduling rotation instead of doing it right in the middle. You could just have allowed the new school for the first year to play as one with the old school. Local athletic people were thinking that the new school was just going to play a junior-varsity schedule the first season anyway.

Second, the KHSAA had to have seen this coming. Plans could have been worked out long before December, eight months before the start of the season.

Actually, the problem was not that difficult for the local teams. At least not as bad as it will be for some of the other schools that will be affected by the trickle-down aspect.

Of course, it affects both the Chargers and Eagles from the standpoint that they go from a four-team district in which each school is guaranteed a play-off spot to the state’s only six-team district where two teams will be out of action before the play-offs even start.

As of Monday, Bullitt East was pretty much set with a new schedule. The Chargers already had a game with Shelby County so they just needed to make one move. As of now, the red and gold will travel to Shelbyville the week after hosting Shelby County, to take on the new school.

To make room for that, Bullitt East dropped a game with Eastern.

It has not been quite as simple for North Bullitt. They have dates set aside with both of the schools, but the home and away part has become a big problem. Both of the Shelby schools are wanting North Bullitt to come to them, this after they somehow both agreed to go to LaRue County.

North Bullitt head coach Brett Newton just finished a season in which he played one home game and two away games within the district. He doesn’t want that to be two home and three away next year.

At this point, North Bullitt has dropped games against Lexington Lafayette and Christian Academy. Truth be told, Newton was trying to get out of the trip to Lexington even before this all unfolded.

(In the email to the schools, the KHSAA did allow them to break ‘contracts’ with other schools. The schools involved were also allowed to play district games on week 10, the final week of the regular season, something not normally allowed. High school ‘contracts’ are KHSAA agreements, not legally binding agreements.)

Of course, a lot of schools not directly affected by the news will face big problems. First, there is now a three-team district in Class 6-A where Shelby County plays. Southern, Male and Fern Creek now have a hole in their schedules as well as in the district. Some team in Class 6-A will get a first-round bye in the play-offs next season.

We’ve already mentioned six teams out of a game and of course both Marion County and LaRue County also had to drop two foes. Some of those ten teams affected might be able to pair up with each other, but the dates may or may not work out.

Worse, this is probably only a one-year situation. Schools across the state expect a major realignment of football for the 2011 season.

Newton was saying that a lot of the coaching scuttle-butt last week at the state championships was that the 16 largest schools in the state would be moved into their own class instead of each of the six classes having an equal number of schools. The same might also be done for the 16 smallest schools, leaving a somewhat larger number of schools divided into the four middle classes.

That doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me. With both Shelby County and Nelson County (in the next few years) getting new schools, that will leave even fewer ‘big’ schools in the state. With that in mind, it is not out of the question that one of the Bullitt County schools might have to move back to Class 6-A under the present structure.

Any plan to eliminate that possibility sounds like a good idea to me. Any of the three local schools can be competitive in Class 4-A or Class 5-A. That is not so much true in Class 6-A.