Great relief for Chargers football

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By Mike Farner

MOUNT WASHINGTON – There was a huge sigh of relief that could have registered on a Richter scale in Mount Washington recently when the Kentucky High School Athletic Association posted the four-year average for student body size for all 221 schools in the state that play football.

     For the past six months, since the KHSAA announced that they would begin work on new football alignments for the 2015-2018 season, Bullitt East coaches and administrators were hoping that the school’s recent increase in student numbers would not force the school into Class 6-A, the class with the 32 largest schools in the state.

     As it turned out, Bullitt East came in ranked number 39 with a four-year average of 674 male students. Over the same time, North Bullitt was ranked 43rd with 641 students, one spot ahead of Bullitt Central at 630 students.

     That means that all three schools will remain in Class 5-A for the next four-year cycle.

     This realignment does not affect the upcoming fall 2014 season or the schedules for the fall season. These changes will start with the fall of 2015 season.

     Also, at the January KHSAA Board of Control meeting, the group voted to use the last four year’s average male enrollment for the rankings instead of just the past two years. That helped Bullitt East to a small extent, but probably not enough to change where they did fall.

     With the upcoming new alignment, the KHSAA wanted the 32 largest schools in the state in Class 6-A and the 32 smallest football playing schools in Class A. The four classes in the middle would then be divided as evenly as possible.

     The preliminary numbers have 39 schools listed as being in Class 5-A.

     There was a time when Bullitt East was closer to the 32nd spot than the 39th spot. In some surprising numbers, Jeffersontown and North Hardin leap-frogged over the Bullitt County schools all the way to Class 6-A status. At this point, the largest school in Class 5-A is Graves County with 699 students. The smallest school in Class 6-A is Boone County with 726 students.

     At this point, the KHSAA has not drawn any district alignments. All that has come out of the process to this point is the four-year averages and how they rank and then the breakdown of school within each class.

     The next step in the process is that each school is now allowed to declare if they want to ‘play up’ in class. If a school does declare to play up, then the smallest school in that class can then drop down. Schools must declare that wish by Feb. 21.

     Take my word for it, the three Bullitt County schools will not ask to ‘play-up’.

     But, some local coaches and administrators are thinking that some area schools might just use the ‘play-up’ option. That would affect the roughly drawn out districts that some have surmised might be a final stopping point.

     I really can’t see why any school would want to ‘play-up’. Still, until Feb. 21, there isn’t a lot of news that will come out of this process. In fact, the KHSAA doesn’t plan on finalizing the process until April of May of this year.

     Still, that hasn’t stopped local coaches from looking at the lay of the land and ‘guessing’ at how things might work out.

     First off, Shelby County is one of the school’s that will drop down a class as they will be a 4-A school (the same as Martha Layne Collins) so there will be a change in the area district alignment after next season.

     As already mentioned, two teams previously in Class 5-A, North Hardin and Jeffersontown, are moving up. In a bit of shocking news, John Hardin’s enrollment is going down and they will be a Class 4-A team in the new alignment

     So, Class 5-A, District 4, loses Shelby County and keeps the three Bullitt County teams. Class 5-A, District 3, loses John Hardin, North Hardin, and Jeffersontown, keeping only Grayson County and Iroquois.

     In a handful of recent alignments for football, Bullitt County has often been lumped together with Jefferson County schools. Bullitt Central athletic director Mike Gossett sees five Jefferson County schools in Class 5-A (Southern, Iroquois, Fairdale, Atherton and Doss) and three Bullitt County schools and thinks some split of four-and-four is in the works.

     Conversely, with 39 schools in Class 5-A, there has to be a high number of the eight districts with five members. The five Jefferson County teams could stay together and then a school like Grayson County would fill out the ‘Bullitt County’ district and become District 3 while the Jefferson County grouping would be District 4.

     However, if just one Class 4-A school opts to ‘play-up’ then Doss has the option to move down as they are the smallest school presently in Class 5-A. That could change a lot of scenarios.

     Another wild card is South Oldham, the only Class 5-A school in that area. In the recent alignments, the Dragons have been grouped with teams up the Ohio River like Grant County and some northern Kentucky schools. South Oldham could join the three Bullitt County teams and then let the five Jefferson County teams stay together.

     The five Jefferson County schools, the three Bullitt County programs and South Oldham are sort of an island if looking at a map. The nearest Class 5-A schools outside of that group would be Grayson County and Anderson County

     It’s fun to look at the possible scenarios and see in which direction the KHSAA might go. However, at this point, guessing is all it will be.

     Still, the ‘worst case scenario’ has past and is now out of the picture. Now, it is hard to imagine that the Bullitt County schools will not stay in the same district for the foreseeable future.

     For that, we can all breath a sigh of relief.