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Saturday, January 9, 2021

BREAKING: Eddie James Named New Highlands Head Football Coach

Eddie James. IMG: (Nick Moore, 44 Sports Photography).

The Highlands administration named Franklin County Head Coach Eddie James the new head coach of the Bluebirds football team.

Franklin County encompasses the state capitol of Frankfort. James, a 2005 Franklin County alum, served as head coach of the Flyers the last three seasons. Franklin County appeared in its first state championship game in school history on Dec. 18 at Kroger Field in Lexington losing 31-28 in overtime to state power Boyle County in the Class 4A title game. Franklin County finished 9-2 during the season delayed by the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic.

James had been the head coach since 2017 guiding the Flyers to a record of 35-12. After going 5-6 in 2017, Franklin County finished 10-3 in 2018 losing 13-7 at Knox Central in the third round of the Class 4A playoffs. The Flyers finished 11-1 in 2019 losing 18-7 to Louisville Central in the second round of the playoffs. Franklin County is currently in Class 4A, District 4.

"The Highlands Bluebirds represent one of the true blood programs in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a gold standard when it comes to excellence," James said. "I would only leave Franklin County for a job of this magnitude, and I am very eager to work with the great student-athletes in Fort Thomas to restore a championship tradition on the football field."

After conducting a comprehensive search, Highlands High School Principal Matt Bertasso said James' clear and energetic vision for what Highlands football will embody both on and off the field separated him as the ideal candidate to walk the sidelines.

"Eddie James sees the football program as an extension of his own family," Bertasso said. "He is about championship-building, for sure.  But he also uses football to teach life lessons that will help mold our students into fine people long after they leave the program.  That’s very important to us."

James graduated from Franklin County High School in 2005 and held positions as an assistant coach at FCHS and at Boyle County before his promotion to head coach at Franklin County in 2017.  James holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky and teaches special education. James also received his Rank 1 in Special Education from University of the Cumberlands.

"Highlands has a long and proud history of competing at the highest levels and Eddie brings with him the coaching acumen and experience needed to bring this kind of achievement back to our football program," said Wes Caldwell, Highlands Director of Athletics. "Hiring Eddie represents a critical investment in our entire athletic department, and his energy will galvanize our community. We believe a lot of great Friday nights are in store for the Bluebirds."

James' wife, Nikki, also teaches special education and the couple has two children, Ava (6) and Jax (3). The family plans to move from the Frankfort area to Northern Kentucky in the coming months.

"Preparing for my interview at Highlands was like preparing for a big game," James added. "Lots of adrenaline and excitement.  And I want to communicate very clearly that everyone who wears an ‘H’ in our program will represent Highlands in a first-class manner on the field, in the classroom and in the community. That’s my expectation."

James had been an assistant at Franklin County between 2011 and 2013 before going over to Boyle County for two seasons as an assistant under legend Chuck Smith. James returned to Franklin County in 2016 serving as an assistant under interim head coach Nick Sheridan.

Highlands has 23 state championships, the second-most in Kentucky history behind only Louisville Trinity's 27. The Bluebirds are one of just five programs in the country with more than 900 victories in school history with 906 good for fifth in the country and only one behind fourth-place Mayfield's 907.

Highlands last won a state championship in 2014. 

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