The Harrison County Thorobreds football district just got significantly more difficult after the KHSAA granted a request by Covington Holmes to drop in class from 5A to 4A for the 2009 high school season.
Two weeks ago, Holmes requested a drop in football class through the KHSAA Board of Control citing a “significant drop in enrollment over the last three years.”
After hearing the case put forth by Holmes’ Athletic Director Ron Madrick and football coach Stephen Lickert at the monthly Board of Control meeting on Jan. 14, it was unanimously decided to grant their request to be dropped in class.
Holmes will immediately join Harrison County and three other teams in class 4A, Region 1, District 5 for the coming 2009 season.
In his presentation to the Board of Control’s football committee, Madrick showed that Holmes’ school enrollment has dropped in the last three years to the point that, now, Holmes would be the 24th largest school in Class 4A.
“We are looking out for the well-being of our kids,” said Madrick. “We don’t think it is fair for our student-athletes to be classed against schools that have a significantly higher enrollment than us.”
Two years ago, the KHSAA realigned the entire state and Harrison County was placed in class 4A where it has played for the last two seasons in Region 1, District 5 with Bourbon County, Franklin County and Pendleton County.
In that same realignment, Holmes was placed in Class 5A, Region 1, District 5 along with Highlands, Covington Scott, Covington Catholic and Dixie Heights.
It is that most recent KHSAA realignment, and the lateness of Holmes’ request for the drop in class, that has rankled Harrison County and Bourbon County, two of the teams impacted by Holmes’ drop in class.
“I don’t think that Bourbon County, Franklin County, Pendleton County or us is upset about Holmes joining our district,” said HCHS Athletic Director Lee Kendall. “The biggest problem we have is the timing of the change. Here it is, January, all of the teams have already completed their schedules for 2009, and for us, the 2010 seasons and now Holmes is requesting a drop in class. They knew at the beginning of this school year what their enrollment numbers were. It would have been a lot more convenient for all of us had we known then about their desire to be dropped to 4A.”
HCHS football coach Aaron Stepp echoed those sentiments.
“I think it is very unfortunate the way the whole thing played out,” said Stepp, who will be entering his second year at the helm of the Thorobreds this coming season. “First, Holmes always has great athletes and it will make our district much, much tougher. Second, it puts us and the other teams in the district in a bind with scheduling. We now have to make room for Holmes in our schedule, which means we have to drop a team that we just entered into a new contract with. That team will then have to find someone to fill that spot in their schedule, and so on.”
The KHSAA did grant Harrison County, and the other teams affected by Holmes’ drop in class, the freedom to break necessary contracts to allow their assimilation into district play and allowed the district teams to schedule Holmes anywhere they may fit into their schedule. Currently, the KHSAA has established a scheduling grid that permits district contests to be played on specified weeks. That scheduling restriction will be waived for two years.
Holmes has long been recognized as having perhaps the best athletes living within their school district in all of Northern Kentucky.
Currently, their boys basketball team is the top-ranked team in the state and is coming off a runner-up finish in the Sweet Sixteen last season.
Last year, Holmes finished with a 3-7 regular season mark, was fourth in its district, and were defeated by Johnson Central in the first round of the playoffs, 54-13.
Their lone district win came when they beat Scott in overtime, 26-20. They lost district games to eventual 5A state champ Highlands (70-6), Dixie Heights (45-0) and Covington Catholic (42-0) to finish in fourth place in the district.
The last time Harrison County and Holmes were in the same classification was 2000 when Harrison County defeated Holmes 42-28 in the second round of the 3A playoffs. That year, the Breds finished 12-1 overall and were defeated in the third round by Highlands.