LONDON — Nate Valentine’s North Laurel Jaguars will go up against some of the state’s best teams this upcoming season by participating in the 40th Annual Chad Gardner Law King of the Bluegrass Tournament.

Ballard, Beechwood, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Male, Covington Catholic, Martin County, Eastern, Fairdale, Marshall County, Oldham County, Spencer County, Trinity, Dorman (South Carolina), and Brentwood (Tennessee) round out the 16-team field.

”The King of the Bluegrass is regarded as one of the top tournaments not only in Kentucky but also across the country. It is by invitation only. I was elated to get the call last spring. The King of the Bluegrass is a well-run, first-class tournament in every aspect.

”I have taken two teams as a head coach and walked away saying, ’if we ever get invited again- we are going back.’ Every year, if you look at the state tournament field at least five or six teams have participated in the King of the Bluegrass. They have a long history of state champions participating as well.”

The Jaguars have been tagged by many prognosticators as the team to beat in the 13th Region going into the 2020-21 season, and Valentine wants his team tested throughout the season.

What better way to do it than participating in the King of the Bluegrass.

“The King of the Bluegrass is always an extremely competitive field,” he said. “There are no easy games. It can be a grueling three or four days. I’ve seen really good teams go to the King of the Bluegrass and go 0-3. But I’ve also seen some of those teams make a big jump after the tournament and make deep postseason runs.

“This is something we wanted to do here since day one,” Valentine added. “I think to be one of the premier programs in the state, you have to see what those top teams look like. Many of the teams participating have been where we want this program to go. We will be extremely young next season with only one senior but I think it will be a great experience for our players. The King of the Bluegrass is extremely well attended by fans and media. College coaches from all across the country attend. It’s a great opportunity for some of our players to play on the big stage. We certainly hope to have a good showing but I hope it prepares us for the postseason.”

King of the Bluegrass Tournament director, Lloyd Gardner, announced the tournament is scheduled to be played Dec. 18-22 at Fairdale High School.

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