KHSAA releases 2019-22 draft football alignment

Published 8:55 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Things could be on the verge of changing for Bell County and Middlesboro football beginning in 2019. According to the KHSAA draft football alignment, both teams could see changes to their district opponents from 2019-2022.

Bell County, who would be competing in District 5, would only play two familiar district opponents under the new alignment — Jackson County and McCreary Central. Corbin would move up to District 7 in Class 4A and Casey County would remain in Class 3A but move to District 2.

Other schools that the Bobcats would compete against in district play would be Estill County, Powell County and Rockcastle County.

“I guess they just try to make it as balanced as much as they can every four years,” said Bell County coach Dudley Hilton. “They have to put us somewhere. That’s a heck of a lot of traveling, but you have to be able to play somebody. I guess the only thing we could’ve done was choose to move up to get somebody closer to us. You hate to go that far because it’s hard to make big rivals.”

What the proposed changes would do is spark an old rivalry with Rockcastle County.

“That kind of renews an old rivalry we used to have several years ago. Bell and Rock went head-to-head for a long time,” said Dudley. “We’ve had some hard fought football games. They’re still a good program. We’re not doing anything any easier because Rockcastle is just as good if not better than Corbin.

“Powell County this year beat our No. 2 team, which was Casey. So, Powell County has a pretty good program going down there.”

Middlesboro would also see drastic changes to their district schedule after competing in one of the toughest districts over the past several years. The Jackets, who would be competing in District 7 of Class 2A, would not see a single familiar district opponent.

Instead of competing against three of the top teams in Class 2A, they would play Breathitt County, Knott County Central and Leslie County in district play each year.

“It’s very favorable for our football program. It moves Danville, (Lexington Christian Academy) and Somerset into the western bracket along with Washington County,” said Middlesboro coach Zach Massengill. “We’re still facing the other teams in District 8 with Prestonsburg, Shelby Valley, East Ridge (and) that group of teams. What it does is it allows you to make it to the state semis from our region before you see a Beechwood.

“I was looking at it and in the past seven years, we’re 3-22 in our district. That doesn’t matter who is coaching. That’s not good results. Our district has been very dominating in 2A football. Danville has been to the past two state championship games, and LCA beat them one year. To get rid of those three teams is very beneficial for our district and our region.”

As far as travel issues, Massengill said Middlesboro isn’t really close to anywhere. The Jackets were over two hours from LCA, Danville and Somerset during their time playing those teams.

“We benefited a little on travel…but still not much,” said Massengill. “I think demographically, we wound up better with schools systems that are in similar shapes that we’re in as far as population, demographics (and) kids.

“We’re down 360 kids, and we were playing Danville that were up to 555. There is just a discrepancy there, and I think KHSAA did a good job looking at that and figuring some things out. I think it wound up good for us overall.”

Pineville’s district schedule would not change under the new alignment with the Mountain Lions continuing to play Harlan, Lynn Camp and Williamsburg for a district title each year.

The changes are not set in stone at the moment. According to the press release, feedback will be solicited from the membership and a final determination will be made at the May 8-9 KHSAA Board of Control meeting.

Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN