The Richmond Register

Sports

April 16, 2014

H.S. FOOTBALL: Coaches not happy with proposed district realignment

RICHMOND — Two Madison County schools — Berea Community and Madison Southern — could potentially find themselves playing in new football districts after the upcoming season.

The two schools are among those that will be changing districts if a proposed  realignment for the 2015-18 seasons that was released by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association on Tuesday is approved next month by the group’s board of control.

Under the proposal, Berea Community would switch from Class 1A District 5, to District 2, which will include Bethlehem, Campbellsville, Caverna and Fort Knox.

Madison Southern would switch from Class 5A District 7, to District 6, which includes Anderson County, Montgomery County, Shelby County and Woodford County.

Madison Central is not affected by the proposed realignment and will remain in the same district — Class 6A, District 8, which includes Clark County, Tates Creek and Lafayette.

One look at the new districts and it’s quickly apparent that Southern and Berea will be doing a lot more traveling on Fridays because the new teams on their schedules are a lot farther away than their current district foes.

That means an added burden financially for both schools and that fact isn’t sitting well with either school’s coaches.

“It’s ridiculous. I’m not real happy about it. How are we almost playing in Louisville. Shelby County is 1:45 away by bus. That makes no sense to me,” Southern coach Jon Clark said. “This puts people financially in a bad spot because now your gates are going to be less and your travel expense is more. (The KHSAA) don’t worry about things like that and you can’t get them to understand who this puts people in a real bad spot.”

Madison Southern officials knew the move was a possibility because they were contacted by the KHSAA about a month ago about a possible realignment.

Because there were schools that had petitioned to move up to Class 5A, the KHSAA offered schools with the lowest enrollment in Class 5A, including Southern,  the opportunity to move down to Class 4A.

The only problem, according to Clark, is that the KHSAA only gave them 48-hours to make a decision on a move up or down and would give them no information on how the move would affect them.

“We, our athletic director, myself and school administrators, asked the KHSAA who would we play? What would the district look like, because we need to know how far we would be traveling,” he said. “They wouldn’t tell us who petitioned to move up. They wouldn’t tell us who might move down. They wouldn’t tell us anything or give us any information other than we could play down and we had to make our decision and we had 48 hours to do it.”

Clark said he reached out to other district coaches but no one was giving out any information. Officials also looked at potentially where they could be placed and who would be in the districts. Based on the scarcity of information the school decided to remain in Class 5A.

“Our decision was that we are going to stay where we are because we don’t have enough information to know if it would be a bad move financially because of travel,” Clark said.

Seeing that Southern was moved into a new district that will require more travel even though they sought to stay where they were and some other teams were left in their same districts even though they petitioned to move down a class, Clark said, makes it an even harder pill to swallow.

“Looking at it now, we got moved out of our district anyway, so we are screwed in the fact that we will have to travel longer for every game anyway,” Clark said. “I feel like we got the raw end of the deal here in 5A and I don’t understand why. I’m not afraid to play anybody around us. What I didn’t want to do is travel two hours every Friday for a game. That’s crazy. They don’t understand what that does. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.”

Unlike Southern, Berea officials didn’t know the school would be moved into a new district until the announcement was made by the KHSAA on Tuesday.

Like his Southern counterpart, Berea football coach Adam Coleman said travel was the biggest issue he has with the proposed realignment.

Campbellsville is currently in Berea’s district and is the longest road trip — about two hours one way — the Pirates have to make.

In the new district, Campbellsville, along with Bardstown Bethlehem, will be the closest opponents on the Pirates new schedule. Caverna will be about a three-hour bus ride, Coleman said.

“Our biggest concern with this is the travel time. That’s just a lot of travel for required district games,” Coleman said. “I know being the only 1A school in this area is difficult in itself because we’re kind of stuck in the middle. But going north and south for us is a lot easier for us.”

Coleman said school officials will be able to give some input toward the move before the KHSAA board’s meeting in May, but didn’t think it would make much difference.

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