Saturday, November 4, 2017

Highlands-Oldham County Notebook

Bluebirds Face Rested South Oldham in Class 5A Second Round

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands sophomore defensive back Jacob Brass (29) battles Oldham County wide receiver Jalen Moore (30) for the ball in the first quarter Friday.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. The Highlands students showed up for the football game sporting a Christmas theme.
In the past, whenever a five or six-team football district faced off against a three-team district in region play, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association took the fifth-place team from the bigger district and sent it to the district champion in the first round of the playoffs.

Out west in Class 6A, McCracken County faced District 1 foe Muhlenberg County in the first round of the playoffs this year and in 2015 and won both times. The Mustangs even played host to Boone County in the first round of the playoffs in 2013 and won 55-10.

District 5 and 6 in Class 6A consist of two three-team Northern Kentucky districts while Districts 3 and 4 make up five Louisville-area squads. In District 4 this year, Louisville Trinity played host to Seneca and won 70-0 and District 3 champion St. Xavier played host to district rival DuPont Manual and won 36-7.

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But in Class 5A, District 3 champion South Oldham (9-1) received a bye when the brackets came out over the weekend. Many thought the Dragons would face the fifth-place North Bullitt Eagles (2-8) in the first round of the playoffs. But KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said that was not even considered after the KHSAA let Grant County drop out of Class 5A, District 5 action this past off-season leaving the district with three teams.

"Neither (North Bullitt nor Nelson County) is the perfect geography for being that fifth-place team," Tackett said. "As part of the 2019 re-alignment, we'll probably have to take a look at is Grant County vulnerable to pull out again? Do you need to put a fifth team in that district to make sure? You try to look at those things and see what occurred. What you can't help at all is where schools are built. The combination of allowing teams to move into a higher class like two of those teams in the north (Highlands and Covington Catholic) did and Grant County pulling out just created something for this classification period that can be fixed the next time. But mid-course, there's just no way to just pull a rabbit out of a hat with those districts around Louisville and just say this fifth-place needs to play."

Tackett added that teams do not mind traveling so placing five teams in many district could solve this issue for the 2019 re-alignment. For next year, District 5 will play teams from District 6 in regional playoff action like they did in 2015. That means the winner of District 6 that consists of Montgomery County, Madison Southern, Woodford County and Anderson County could have a bye in the first round next year.

"There's a lot of water under the bridge between now and then," Tackett said. "It's the first time it's occurred. It is not a nuclear holocaust. There's a bunch of people whining that don't know all the things that happen state-wide when you have to look at that. No one is harmed by having a bye. We had four of them (Friday). I hate them. I'd love to not have them. At the same time, it's going to happen at some point. The combination of Grant County pulling out and the schools wanting to rotate pairings means it's a moving target. You have to decide is it worth shooting at a moving target or do you just leave a bye. It's funny because a lot of the people who have expressed concern aren't even involved. It didn't affect them. They didn't have a bye, but they're mad somebody else got a bye. In sports, everybody is trying to make the excuse for why they don't succeed. Many times, that's what happens."

Members of the South Oldham squad came to the game Friday and saw Highlands beat Oldham County, 34-7. As a result, the Highlands and Oldham County squads agreed not to exchange game film with the Dragons. Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich said he does not want to take anything out on South Oldham Head Coach Jaime Reed. But many teams are not happy with the situation.

"It's just so frustrating that the KHSAA allows a team to have a bye in the 5A playoffs when they're in a six-team district and we have to go out here and play a game like this tonight and they're sitting in the stands watching," Weinrich said. "I can not believe they allowed that to happen. They talk about fairness and they talk about safety. They talk about everything else then they allow something like this to happen. Whatever. We got a chance to play a game and our guys were excited about playing a game."

The other three byes occurred down in Class 1A. Three teams in defending state champion and District 4 champion Beechwood, District 5 champion Paris and district 7 champion Williamsburg all received byes mostly because of teams from various districts not participating in district action.

The KHSAA let Jenkins (originally with District 8), Eminence (District 3) and Berea (District 5) drop out of district play this year and next year like Grant County did in Class 5A, District 5. South Floyd also used to be in Class A, District 8. But South Floyd consolidated with Allen Central (formerly in 2A, District 8) into Floyd Central (now Class 3A) leaving Districts 8 and 3 with three teams. District 6 in Class A originally had just three teams.

Back to Normal in Some Ways:

A year ago at this time, Highlands found itself on the way home from Louisville on a long bus drive and preparing to turn in the uniforms days later. That marked the first time Highlands had lost in the first round of the playoffs since 1991.

The Bluebirds finished 3-8 last year suffering their first losing season since going 4-5-1 in 1955. But the win over Oldham County means the worst Highlands can do is finish .500. A win at South Oldham in the second round of the playoffs would assure the Bluebirds of a winning season.

Another Milestone Win:

The Bluebirds recorded their 885th win in school history Friday becoming just the second team in the country to reach that milestone win. Highlands has 248 losses and 26 ties in 103 seasons of football.

Class 5A, District 5 results:

District champion and top-ranked Covington Catholic (11-0) handled Bullitt East, 56-14 to move on to the second round of the playoffs. But Dixie Heights (3-8) lost 18-14 at Bullitt Central. To face each other in the Region 2 championship, Highlands will have to beat another team from Oldham County and CovCath will have to beat another team from Bullitt County.

Opponent updates:

Every team Highlands lost to during the regular season advanced to the second round of the playoffs with the exception of Class 6A, District 5 champion Ryle. The Raiders lot 20-14 to Louisville Butler.

Series vs. Oldham County:

Highlands moved to 4-0 all-time against Oldham County. The teams had not played since 2004.

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