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As part of a series of interviews that is conducting in 2018 with coaches around the Commonwealth, BGP had a chance to catch up with Jim McKee, head football coach of the 6A Scott County Cardinals. Coach McKee started off the interview with a few comments about the community at Scott County.

Coach McKee: We have had great community and administrative support here for years and it has made building a yearly competitive program much easier than in many places. Many kids whose father’s played for us are now coming thru the program. It is a close knit group of football people in this town. They love football.

BGP: Tell us a little about your coaching background - which schools you've been at as a head coach or as an assistant before you started at Scott County? Which positions have you had personal experience coaching?

Coach McKee: Assistant at Montgomery County for 3 years, head coach at Oldham County for 2, and now here - this will be my 22nd year here. Played at Harrison County and Centre College.

BGP: What was it that made you realize you wanted to be a coach? It's obviously not as easy a job to do in this day and age as it may have been in the past. Are there any particular individuals or coaches who pushed you to realize that it's what you wanted to do?

Coach McKee: I have loved coaching for a lifetime, I stood on the sidelines of middle school games as a high school player and acting like I was helping and at the time I thought I was.

BGP: Are there any games in your coaching career, or even as a player or spectator of a high school game, that you look back at and think, 'Man…now THAT was a memorable game' ?

Coach McKee: When we blocked the field goad at Male in 2013 semi-final game right before half and scooped it for a score will always stand out.

BGP: A lot of teams adopt some sort of motto or a mission statement for the program, or even for the individual program year. Does your team have one right now? Do you have a different motto for yourself as a coach?

Coach McKee: Our motto this year is: “One Town, One Team!

BGP: If I were to ask your players - past or present - if there's one thing they hear you say the most, what do you think it would be?

Coach McKee: Who knows, you would have to ask them. Hopefully when they look back at their career they will feel as if our staff gave the maximum chance to be successful as a player.

BGP: So many players come into a high school program these days with significant experience from pee-wee or middle school programs, and some of them are even walking into the 9th grade already having thoughts about getting college exposure. What is your approach to coaching your team knowing that you may have players walking onto the practice field who may not have any prior football experience at the same time as players who may have 7 or 8 years of football experience and coaching?

Coach McKee: Never really think about that. We just coach them hard as frosh and try and get them into the position that they can excel at the most individually and as a team.

BGP: Scott County ended the season with an 11-3 record last year and made it up to the 6A semifinals. What are your plans for this season: just keep grinding and putting in the same hard work and get the most you can out of your players, or are you thinking there will be any noticeable changes from last season's overall gameplan?

Coach McKee: Our general approach will be very close to the same - we like our blue print. One key is that each year you have to adopt to the talent you have. Last year we threw for 1600 yards for example out of the Wing-T because we had a heck of thrower at quarterback. One year we threw for 600 yards because our quarterback was a much better runner than thrower. Same goes for defense and special teams: if we have an end zone kicker we will sit back and watch him kick it in the end zone, and if not we find ways to effectively kickoff. The road map is similar the turns along the way depend on the strengths and weaknesses of our team.

BGP: With spring practice wrapped up, what strengths do you see the team having prior to really getting into the nuts and bolts of summer practice?

Coach McKee: We have a lot of good players, good coaches and strong tradition. We will finish up our youth camp tomorrow (we had 91 kids) and then the kids are off until July 11, we like to give them a break and let them come back in re-charged. We have done this for years and feel like it helps us be fresh and ready when the November games get here.

BGP: If you could pare down all of the qualities that you look for in a player, and get down to just one or two top qualities that you like to see the most, what would they be?

Coach McKee: One thing I think our players would say is that they can count on me as a head coach to be there daily, fired up and ready to roll along with our staff. We want players who we can count on more than anything else. Someone who is committed, someone who will eligible, will not miss school or practice, and will put the team first.

BGP: Who are some of the players on your team this year that we should expect to see a lot out of?

Coach McKee:

Bryan Hudson - National recruit committed to Virginia Tech. We are promoting him for Mr. Football. Kid is unreal and a great kid.
Glenn Covington - 1st Team Courier-Journal All-State as a junior. He will climb well into the KHSAA records for career receptions if he has a good year. 4 year starter.
Berk Watts - 3 year starter at inside linebacker. Tough as nails, sideline to sideline kid.
Austin Barnett - Gained over 1000 yards as a junior fullback.
Payton Brown - Really good halfback. Hoes all the little things right.

BGP: Obviously the opening of Great Crossing High School and the 2019-2022 re-alignment are big news for the Scott County football program, with the Cardinals moving down to 5A. Can you tell us a little about how you think that's going to impact things for the Scott County team, and maybe a little about what your expectations are with all of those changes coming up for the team?

Coach McKee: In my opinion it would be unfair to this team to even think about that. We'll cross that bridge when it comes. These seniors are awesome kids and our staff owes it to them to give them everything we have to have the best possible season we can.

BGP: Are there any teams that you would like to look at getting onto the Scott County schedule within the next handful of years?

Coach McKee: It is very tough to get a schedule outside of our Honorary Membership to the GCL. We do have 9 games scheduled for 2019 and 2020, we will continue to try and find a 10th one. We do play Ballard and Manual and we are excited about playing those schools, should be good games for us and them.

BGP: What are some of your favorite things to do when you have a little time in the off-season and you're not in football coaching mode?

Coach McKee: I have 3 sons. Clay is about to play his senior year at Georgetown College, Colby is a red-shirt freshman at Austin Peay, and Cade just completed his sophomore year and is a starter on the baseball team. I enjoy watching them play games and also enjoy time being a father in general. They have all played for us here and it is been a great joy, they call me Dad on the field, I am their Dad all the time.

BGP: Which college / NFL teams do you root for the most?

Coach McKee: I follow the SEC the most and other big-time games. We never work on Saturdays. It is our down-day during the season so I enjoy whatever games I can watch or go to. I have always loved and will always love the Cowboys in the NFL. Frankly, Sunday is a very busy day in-season so following the NFL really does not occur until our season is complete. We have been in 9 of the last 10 regional title games so hopefully we can continue that trend and we will not have time to follow the NFL until late! would like to give a big thank you to Coach McKee for offering us some of his valuable time to answer our questions!