April 18, 2014

On The Rebound: KHSAA sending North to the east

By Mitch Howard
Sports Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — If you are a North Laurel football fan, you better start saving for gas money.

The KHSAA announced the proposed realignment for 2015 through 2018 and the Jaguars are heading east. Forget those easy trips to Somerset and Richmond. No more Culver’s ice cream or Papalenos Pizza after a game.

North Laurel is being thrown back into the district with Perry County Central, Letcher Central, and Harlan County. Mapquest lists Harlan as a 1 1⁄2 hour drive.  Perry Central is a pretty easy hour straight up the Parkway. For Letcher Central, you are looking at a 2-hour drive in a school bus.

Football alignment is not an easy thing. Like the NCAA tournament, you aren’t going to develop a plan that doesn’t leave a few teams scratching their heads.

I do know that putting North and South in separate districts makes no sense. Granted there have been teams even closer geographically that were in different districts, but the first line you draw should be from schools in the same class in the same county.

South Laurel is projected to remain in the district with the Pulaski County teams, Whitley County, and Lincoln County. It is Whitley County that flips districts so the Jaguars hit the road.

According to the KHSAA numbers, there are only two schools in 5A with higher enrollment than the Jaguars. Those schools are Graves County and Southern. Perry Central and Letcher Central actually have the numbers to play in 4A, but requested to play in the high class.

If North did request a higher class, they are looking at playing in a district with George Rogers Clark, Lafayette, Madison Central, and Tates Creek. That doesn’t look like much of an answer.

Maybe rivalries don’t go into the equation. Of course North and South will play regardless, but it doesn’t seem like much of a rivalry when you have to cross several counties to get to your opponent. Rivalries are best when an opponent has dated your girlfriend or even better your sister.

It’s also hard to maintain a rivalry when you flip districts every few years. It wouldn’t be the same if every few years Kentucky switched from the SEC to Big 10 and back.

Sure we look forward to Larkey Bowl Three when North plays Harlan County, but will that game have as much flair when the senior Larkey retires?

There are three districts in 6A that have only three teams. This gets interesting when four teams from a district make the playoffs. What happens is teams that finish fifth in the sister district become the No. 4 seed in the opposing district. So in the playoff they would be playing another team from their own district again. Maybe it’s time to drop from six classes to five in football?

I don’t claim to have all the answers. Like most fans, I only think about realignment when the realignment is released. I do think it is time for a more radical change because I’m ready to get off this see saw.