High School Sports

Mike Fields' notebook: New football alignment to shake things up

The landscape of Kentucky high school football is about to change again. It's time for realignment.

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association will soon finalize how schools will be classified for the 2011-14 seasons based on new enrollment figures. There will be some significant changes if the proposed alignment stands. Among the notable programs moving up or dropping down in class:

■ Highlands, Ashland Blazer, Covington Catholic, Johnson Central and Owensboro will go from 5A to 4A.

■ Bell County will go from 4A to 3A.

■ Russellville will go from 3A to A.

■ Somerset will go from 3A to 2A.

■ Fort Campbell will go from 2A to 3A.

■ Lexington Christian will go from A to 2A.

Highlands, owner of 19 state titles, is the highest-profile program making a change. When football was realigned a few years ago, Highlands' enrollment put it in 3A, but it and archrival Covington Catholic were allowed to move up to 5A because of scheduling problems. Bluebirds Coach Dale Mueller said they won't seek (nor would they be allowed) to compete in a higher classification this time. They will be in a 4A district in Northern Kentucky with nearby schools Cooper, CovCath and Holmes. "We don't have a geographic reason to move up," Mueller said.

That collective groan you heard came from the rest of 4A, which knows Highlands is a monster similar to St. Xavier and Trinity in 6A.

But Highlands' new competition in 4A might not include powers Boyle County, Johnson Central and Lexington Catholic. Those schools have asked the KHSAA to be allowed to move up to 5A because of geographic reasons.

So far, four other schools have requested to play up a class: Cooper (4A to 5A), Greenwood (5A to 6A), Harrison County (4A to 5A), and Ohio County (5A to 6A).

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said his office will be taking input from member schools over the next few weeks before everything is finalized at the Oct. 18 Board of Control meeting.

■ Bowling Green Coach Kevin Wallace's road to 200 victories came full circle when his Purples beat Warren East last week. "It was unique," said Wallace, who played at Warren East and began his head coaching career there 26 years ago. Wallace moved across town to become an assistant to Dan Haley at Bowling Green in 1994. After the Purples won a state title in '95, Haley stepped down and Wallace stepped up. To say he's been successful would be an understatement. His teams have won at least 10 games 11 times in 15 years, and he led them to three consecutive state runner-up finishes starting in 2005. Bowling Green (4-0) is off to a strong start this year with a junior-dominated roster, but the schedule toughens up as the Purples face Owensboro on Friday and Trinity next week. "We'll get a good indication where we are, especially on offense," Wallace said. "That's where we're a work in progress."

■ Somerset beat Danville decisively for the second year in a row, defeating the host Admirals 38-13. Storm Wilson caught three TD passes from Erik Manning as the Briar Jumpers won their 14th regular-season game in a row. Somerset beat Danville 48-7 last year on its way to a state runner-up finish in 3A.

■ Bell County has had so much success under Dudley Hilton that the Bobcats' home field on Log Mountain has sometimes been referred to as the Hilton Inn, where visiting teams check in, but don't check out. Before last week's game against Whitley County, Bell County officially changed the name of its facility to Dudley Hilton Field, in honor of the man who has led the Bobcats to two state titles, and who is 11 wins shy of eclipsing Bob Schneider as the state's all-time winningest coach. Hilton, who is from Springfield, had dozens of relatives make the trip to Bell County for the ceremony. "It was very touching." Hilton said. "It meant a lot to have so many family members there. It's nice to get to enjoy this a little bit. Usually you're dead and gone before they name something after you."

■ Collins' Tavis Elzy had a 49-yard touchdown run, returned a fumble 60 yards for a TD, and ran back one of his two interceptions 70 yards for a score in a 50-21 rout of Elizabethtown.

■ Defending 6A champ St. Xavier had its 14-game winning streak snapped when it lost to Cincinnati St. Xavier 32-13 last week. Cincinnati St. X plays at Trinity on Friday night.

■ Fern Creek's Jerrell Moore, who has committed to Louisville, ran for 231 yards and three TDs, and caught a 30-yard TD pass in a 46-21 victory over Meade County.

■ It wasn't the blowout expected, but three-time defending state champ Fort Campbell beat Fort Knox 28-26 for its eighth consecutive Army Bowl victory. QB Aaron Hills rushed 35 times for 217 yards and two TDs for the winners.

■ Jon Davis, who has committed to UK, rushed for 131 yards and two TDs to lead Eastern over Oldham County 20-0.

■ Christian County's football/basketball star Anthony Hickey threw for 266 yards and five TDs in a win over Pleasure Ridge Park. Marcoreyon "Bubba" Tandy, another two-sport standout for the Colonels, had six catches for 183 yards and three TDs.

■ Greenup County's Corey Lyle rushed for a school-record 334 yards and had six TDs in a 60-34 rout of Raceland. Lyle is the son of Cary Lyle, whom Central Kentucky basketball fans know as one of the top referees. Cary, who played football for Henry Clay in the early 1980s, said his son gets his sports ability from his grandfather, Titus Lyle, a basketball standout at Glasgow in the late 1950s.

■ Henry Clay's victory over Scott County was a sweet homecoming for Blue Devils Coach Sam Simpson. He played on Scott County's 1975 state title team coached by Bill Wilson. Before last week's game, Simpson introduced some of his players to Wilson. Since taking over at Henry Clay in 1993, Simpson has a 12-5 record against Scott County.

■ Bob Hoggard, who had 540 career victories in 28 years of coaching basketball, died this week. Hoggard led Christian County, Oldham County and Bowling Green to eight state tournament appearances. He also coached at Powell County, Graves County and Fort Knox. Visitation is Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Severns Valley Church in Elizabethown. The funeral is Saturday at 11 a.m.

■ After three straight runner-up finishes, Lexington Christian's girls' soccer team won the All "A" State Cup in Frankfort last weekend. The No. 17 Eagles beat two-time defending champ and No. 6 St. Henry 3-1 in the finals. "It still hasn't sunk in," said LCA Coach Steve Fugmann, who was happy to see his nine seniors finally get to celebrate a title. "We always preach to the girls that hard work pays off. You never know when. It could be immediately or years down the road, but it was good to see their hard work pay off like this." LCA outscored its five opponents 33-1.

■ Former Western Hills and Wake Forest star Mandy (Goins) Moore is the new women's golf coach at Carson-Newman in Tennessee. She was a graduate assistant at EKU last season.

■ The KHSAA this week guaranteed that Justin Thomas of St. Xavier and Emma Talley of Caldwell County will compete in the state high school golf tournament next month. Thomas and Talley were selected to play in the prestigious Junior Ryder Cup in Scotland in late September, the same week high school region tournaments are played. If St. X's boys and/or Caldwell County's girls don't qualify for the state without their stars, the KHSAA decided that Thomas and Talley still deserve to play in the state tournament even if their teams don't qualify. Thomas and Talley have impeccable credentials. Thomas made the cut in a PGA Tour event last year and reached match play in the U.S. Amateur this summer. Talley won the 2008 state title, and would have repeated as champ last fall except she called a scorecard error on herself and was disqualified.

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