HCHS moving to 4A in new grid alignment

Published 9:45 am Thursday, May 10, 2018

After playing 10 of the first 11 years of the school’s existence in 5A, including the 2018 season this fall, the Harlan County Black Bears are moving down to 4A in the recently approved Kentucky High School Athletic Association football alignment for the 2019-2022 seasons.

Harlan County will move with two rivals in their current 5A district as Letcher Central and Perry Central will join HCHS in District 8 of 4A, along with Clay County and Johnson Central. The Bears have had success against everyone in the new district, except Johnson Central. The Golden Eagles, under coach Jim Matney, have been one of the top teams in the state the past decade and won four straight against HCHS from 2013 to 2016. Harlan County has never lost to Clay County or Perry Central and leads the series against Letcher Central.

The Bears played their first season in 3A, replacing Cawood for the final season of a four-year alignment before bumping up to 5A in the 2009 season. HCHS won regional titles in 2010 and 2012 under coach Tom Larkey and again last fall under coach Eddie Creech. Teams will alternate which district they play against in the first three rounds of the playoffs. The District 8 teams will play District 6 in 2019, then District 4 in 2020 and District 5 in 2021.

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“The new alignment brings a new district, obviously, but also brings a new challenge in the playoffs,” Creech said. “We look forward to the competition the realignment will bring starting in 2019.”

Harlan will remain in Class A, the same place the program has been since the KHSAA started the football playoff system in 1959. The Dragons will stay with traditional rivals Pineville, Lynn Camp and Williamsburg, but they are moving from District 7 to District 8 as the two districts switch numbers. District 7 will feature Pikeville, Hazard and Phelps, with Jenkins moving back into district competition in the 2019 season.

KHSAA football alignment – 2019 to 2022 seasons


District 1- Apollo, Daviess County, Henderson County, Marshall County, McCracken County

District 2- Barren County, Central Hardin, Meade County, North Hardin

District 3- Butler, DuPont Manual, Pleasure Ridge Park, St. Xavier

District 4- Bullitt East, Fern Creek, Male, Southern

District 5- Ballard, Eastern, Trinity (Louisville)

District 6- Campbell County, Dixie Heights, Ryle, Simon Kenton

District 7- Henry Clay, Lafayette, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Tates Creek

District 8- Bryan Station, George Rogers Clark, Madison Central, Oldham County

*For playoff bracketing only, the 5th place team in District 1 would become the 5th place team in District 5


District 1- Breckinridge County, Graves County, Grayson County, Muhlenberg County, Ohio County, Owensboro

District 2- Bowling Green, Christian County, Greenwood, South Warren

District 3- Bullitt Central, Doss, Fairdale, Iroquois, Western

District 4- Atherton, Jeffersontown, North Bullitt, Seneca, South Oldham

District 5- Boone County, Conner, Cooper, Covington Catholic, Highlands

District 6- Frederick Douglass, Grant County, Great Crossing, Montgomery County, Scott County

District 7- Collins, East Jessamine, Madison Southern, West Jessamine, Woodford County

District 8- North Laurel, Pulaski County, South Laurel, Southwestern, Whitley County


District 1- Calloway County, Hopkins County Central, Hopkinsville, Logan County, Madisonville-North Hopkins

District 2- Allen County-Scottsville, Franklin-Simpson, Russell County, Warren Central, Warren East

District 3- John Hardin, Marion County, Moore, Spencer County, Valley

District 4- Central, Franklin County, North Oldham, Shelby County, Waggener

District 5- Anderson County, Bourbon County, Boyle County, Lexington Catholic

District 6- Boyd County, Harrison County, Holmes, Rowan County, Scott

District 7- Corbin, Knox Central, Lincoln County, Wayne County

District 8- Clay County, Harlan County, Johnson Central, Letcher County Central, Perry County Central


District 1- Paducah Tilghman, Trigg County, Union County, Webster County

District 2- Adair County, Casey County, Glasgow, Hart County, Taylor County

District 3- Bardstown, Elizabethtown, LaRue County, Nelson County, Thomas Nelson

District 4- Christian Academy-Louisville, DeSales, Henry County, Mercer County, Western Hills

District 5- Bell County, Estill County, Garrard County, Jackson County, McCreary Central, Rockcastle County

District 6- Fleming County, Lewis County, Mason County, Pendleton County, Powell County

District 7- Ashland Blazer, East Carter, Greenup County, Russell

District 8- Belfry, Floyd Central, Lawrence County, Magoffin County, Pike County Central


District 1- Ballard Memorial, Caldwell County, Fort Campbell, Mayfield, Murray

District 2- Butler County, Hancock County, McLean County, Owensboro Catholic, Todd County Central

District 3- Clinton County, Edmonson County, Green County, Metcalfe County, Monroe County

District 4- Danville, Lexington Christian, Somerset, Washington County

District 5- Carroll County, Gallatin County, Owen County, Shawnee, Trimble County, Walton-Verona

District 6- Beechwood, Holy Cross (Covington), Lloyd Memorial, Newport

District 7- Breathitt County, Knott County Central, Leslie County, Middlesboro, Morgan County

District 8- Bath County, East Ridge, Prestonsburg, Shelby Valley, Sheldon Clark, West Carter


District 1- Caverna, Crittenden County, Fulton County, Russellville

District 2- Bethlehem, Campbellsville, Fort Knox, Holy Cross (Louisville)

District 3- Berea, Eminence, Frankfort, Kentucky Country Day

District 4- Bellevue, Dayton, Ludlow, Newport Central Catholic

District 5- Bishop Brossart, Bracken County, Nicholas County, Paris

District 6- Betsy Layne, Fairview, Paintsville, Raceland

District 7- Hazard, Jenkins, Phelps, Pikeville

District 8- Harlan, Lynn Camp, Pineville, Williamsburg


NON DISTRICT PLAY (NEW TEAM)– 2019 and 2020 – Sayre