Casey chimes in on realignment

Three local teams weighed in on the proposed football realignment released by the KHSAA earlier this month, but only one of them really had much to say.

Casey County politely objected to the placement of Bell County in District 3A-4, something Bell isn’t very happy about, either. And while it would be easy to say that Casey wants no part of playing a powerhouse like Bell on a yearly basis — and would probably also be true — this is one case where both Casey and Bell have a legitimate geographical beef with the proposal the Board of Control is expected to vote on today in Lexington.

As proposed, this district would contain Bell, Casey, Corbin, McCreary Central and Wayne County. It would also be considered part of the western semi-state, even though Bell lies on the state’s eastern border. The distance between Casey and Bell is about 123 miles, and you won’t find too many more district road trips of that length in the proposed alignment. And never mind that Bell could be asked to go to Louisville or Elizabethtown for regional playoff games or to Fort Campbell or Paducah for the semifinals.

In their response to the KHSAA, Casey principal Barry Lee and athletic director Victor Black wrote:

“We do not feel that Bell County is a geographic fit for 3A for District 4. The trip for us is approximately 3 hours by school us. This is not a traditional rival game for us and does not present our fans with any added benefit for the travel. We have two other area schools within an hour drive of us that have been placed in other districts. The moving of Bell to a traditional mountain district would leave our district with the required four teams.”

In short, it means Casey would love to see Bell put somewhere else. A few days earlier, Bell said pretty much the same thing in its response submitted by principal Jeffrey Saylor and coach Dudley Hilton, which reads in part:

“Bell County is a mountain football team. For us to be placed in a district that puts us in the western half of the state does not sit well with our school and its fans. I knew that a class change was going to take away some of our annual rivals, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be completely removed from southeastern Kentucky.”

Bell offers two suggestions for solutions, one of which asks that it be placed in District 3A-7 with Breathitt County, Jackson County, Knott County Central, Magoffin County and Morgan County. The school also checked the box indicating its representatives wish to address today’s Board of Control meeting.

Bell is close to only one 3A opponent in the proposed alignment, and that’s Corbin, which is about 45 minutes away. But if it wants to move to District 7, there’s an easy way to make that happen and still keep every district in the class at five teams. Simply swap Bell for Jackson County, which is already playing Casey and Wayne in its current district and is closer to Corbin than to any of the teams it would be paird with in District 7.

Bell’s other proposed solution, by the way, is to leave the alignment intact but change the numbers of four districts, which it says would reduce travel for playoff games.

As for the two other local schools that responded to the KHSAA, both Garrard County and Lincoln County checked the box that says they recommend no changes.

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