|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior Jared Wogan (10) makes a move in the playoff game at Louisville Doss a few weeks ago. Highlands is trying to find a 10th game for 2017.|
The Highlands Bluebirds were no different until a matter of days ago. Class 5A, District 5 opponent Grant County asked for and received permission from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to drop out of district play for the next two years also leaving Dixie Heights and Covington Catholic without 10th games for the next two seasons.
Weinrich even talked with Dixie Heights Head Coach Dave Brossart and Covington Catholic Head Coach Eddie Eviston about the situation Monday. Highlands and CovCath have listed their respective openings on the KHSAA web site.
"Teams are being contacted from all over the place just trying to find a 10th game," Weinrich said. "We're all scrambling trying to figure out how it's going to work. We're contacting existing teams on the schedule to see if we could move them to different weeks. It's really frustrating now trying to find that 10th game."
When teams do not participate in district play, they are not eligible for postseason play. It's not uncommon for teams to not participate in district play in order to build their program. Clinton County, McCreary Central and Phelps did not play in district action these past two years.
Highlands spent the 2011 through 2014 seasons in Class 4A. The final alignment had Pendleton County in the same district with the Bluebirds, CovCath and Harrison County. The Wildcats chose to drop out of district play for the 2013 and 2014 seasons before entering into Class 3A in 2015. Highlands beat Pendleton County, 79-0 in 2011 and 70-0 in 2012.
Grant County looked at options before the final alignment a couple years ago. But then Braves Head Coach Kevin Siple and the administration did not want to teach the kids to run when the going got tough so Grant County played in district action the last two years.
Opponents outscored the Braves, 145-7 this past season and 131-51 in 2015. Grant County lost just 28-20 to Dixie Heights in 2015 and nearly knocked off Madison Southern losing just 28-27 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs that year. But the Braves lost 51-7 to eventual Region 2 champion Louisville Fern Creek in the first round of the playoffs this year.
Highlands has openings for Week 6 (Sept. 29) or Week 9 (Oct. 20) for next season. The Bluebirds were to play the Braves on Oct. 20.
In Northern Kentucky outside Class 5A, Newport High, Newport Central Catholic and Ryle also have openings. But while Ryle also has an opening on Sept, 29, the Raiders are already on the schedule for the next two years. Highlands and Ryle have played each other twice during the season in the past.
In Kentucky, Class 1A schools, Frankfort and Fairview have openings on Sept. 29. Mount Healthy (Ohio) located near Cincinnati also has an opening and is looking for a two-year contract.
Aside from that, Weinrich said the 2017 schedule will look about the same as the last two years. The only other difference is Lexington Catholic will take the place of Louisville St. Xavier.