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theguru

Eddie James is the new Highlands football coach

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Congrats Coach James!

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From the open job thread:

𝐇𝐈𝐆𝐇𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐒 𝐇𝐈𝐆𝐇 𝐒𝐂𝐇𝐎𝐎𝐋 𝐇𝐈𝐑𝐄𝐒 𝐅𝐑𝐀𝐍𝐊𝐋𝐈𝐍 𝐂𝐎𝐔𝐍𝐓𝐘’𝐒 𝐄𝐃𝐃𝐈𝐄 𝐉𝐀𝐌𝐄𝐒 𝐀𝐒 𝐍𝐄𝐗𝐓 𝐇𝐄𝐀𝐃 𝐅𝐎𝐎𝐓𝐁𝐀𝐋𝐋 𝐂𝐎𝐀𝐂𝐇

The Fort Thomas Independent Schools announced today that Eddie James has been hired as the next varsity football coach at Highlands High School.  James will oversee all aspects of the Bluebirds’ storied program after a four-year stint as head coach at Franklin County High School.  This past season, James led the Flyers on a remarkable run that ended with a state runner-up finish in the 2020 Kentucky Class 4A playoffs.

“The Highlands Bluebirds represent one of the true blue blood programs in the Common-wealth of Kentucky and a gold standard when it comes to excellence,” James said.  “I would only leave Franklin County for a job of this magnitude, and I am very eager to work with the great student-athletes in Fort Thomas to restore a championship tradition on the foot-ball field.”

After conducting a comprehensive search, Highlands High School principal Matt Bertasso said James’ clear and energetic vision for what Highlands football will embody, both on and off the field, separated him as the ideal candidate to walk the sidelines.

“Eddie James sees the football program as an extension of his own family,” Bertasso said.  “He is about championship-building, for sure.  But he also uses football to teach life lessons that will help mold our students into fine people long after they leave the program.  That’s very important to us.”

James graduated from Franklin County High School in 2005 and held positions as an assis-tant coach at FCHS and at Boyle County before his promotion to head coach at Franklin County in 2017.  James holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Ken-tucky and teaches special education.  James also received his Rank 1 in Special Education from University of the Cumberlands.

“Highlands has a long and proud history of competing at the highest levels and Eddie brings with him the coaching acumen and experience needed to bring this kind of achieve-ment back to our football program,” athletic director Wes Caldwell said.  “Hiring Eddie rep-resents a critical investment in our entire athletic department, and his energy will galvanize our community.  We believe a lot of great Friday nights are in store for the Bluebirds.”

James’ wife, Nikki, also teaches special education and the couple has two children, Ava (6) and Jax (3).  The family plans to move from the Frankfort area to Northern Kentucky in the coming months.

“Preparing for my interview at Highlands was like preparing for a big game,” James added.  “Lots of adrenaline and excitement.  And I want to communicate very clearly that everyone who wears an ‘H’ in our program will represent Highlands in a first-class manner on the field, in the classroom and in the community.  That’s my expectation.”

The Fort Thomas Independent Schools will host a small media gathering at the Highlands Fieldhouse, an indoor training facility for Highlands Athletics, to introduce Eddie James.  Masks must be worn at all times and please bring recording equipment compatible with social distancing.

Livestream of the press conference Monday, January 11, will be available on the District Facebook page and Film/Broadcast YouTube channel: http://broadcast.hhsbirds.com

📸 credit: Nick Moore, 44 Sports Photography

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Also from the open job thread by @Colonels_Wear_Blue:

I don't have any information on whether or not he has applied or interviewed, but this one interests me somewhat. Eddie is an '05 Franklin County grad, which puts him around 31 years old. He has experience on the middle school level in his resume. He spent time on Chuck Smith's staff at Boyle County coaching quarterbacks, and was the OC at Franklin County for a year or two before becoming their head coach in 2017.

Franklin County was down in '16 when he was OC under interim coach Nick Sheridan, and went 4-7 that year. Then Eddie took over in '17 and they finished 5-6. They were 10-3 in '18, then 11-1 in '19, and 9-2 this past season, losing to Central by 2, and losing to Boyle by 3 in OT in the state finals. That's a solid resume for success.

Pros:
- Middle school experience would assumedly check a box at Highlands for a coach who has firsthand knowledge of how to create involvement and manufacture excitement in the kids from their middle schools and the FTJFL
- Time served coaching under Chuck Smith can't be seen as anything but a resume builder for any coach.
- Successful track record at a school that's relatively comparable in size to Highlands.
- Coach James seems to do a good job of catering his offensive look to compliment the players he has. Work with what you got. Sometimes the original plan or the "system" you thought you had in place just won't work, and you have to be willing to scrap it and move on to figuring out a Plan B, Plan C, or Plan D.
- Program success under the coach.

Cons:
- Has only been head coach at one school.
- For better or worse, Franklin County has been a program with 7 different head coaches in the last 20 years. Even with that much coaching turnover, the majority of their seasons have had at least 7 or more wins. Franklin County is a program that recent history shows has a tendency to succeed, regardless of who their coach is. That's not to say that Coach James hasn't been anything short of a major asset, but it's still true.
- Eddie has had some serious talent the last couple of seasons at Franklin County. There's bound to be someone who will look at Coach James' record in the last couple of years as a largely being product of talent. I have to hope that the people calling the shots at Highlands know that there's more that goes into a couple of deep playoff runs that include an overtime appearance in the state title game than just having talent on your roster.
- He doesn't have a state championship. He has a runners up from one of the most competitive games played against Boyle County in the last 2 or 3 seasons, but no state championship.

I think the other thing some folks may or may not ask about Coach James (if he applied or interviews) is whether or not he is prepared for the NKY environment and the insular and highly critical - but supportive - Highlands community. Fort Thomas is different from Frankfort, although it's probably fairly comparable to Boyle County and the Danville area.

All in all, I think hiring Coach James would have a kind of a Duffy feel to it - albeit a little more likely not to have a coach who walks in the door at his new job telling the school and parents that they probably won't like him, and that he couldn't care less whether they do or don't like him.

One of the biggest questions is whether or not Eddie James is even interested in Highlands, though. I think we would all have to assume the Highlands job is a pay raise over the Franklin County job, but Eddie is currently the head coach at his alma mater, he's having some real success their as the head coach, and he still more than likely has some personal initiative to try to get a state championship at his alma mater.

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This is a great hire. I think EJ will succeed at Highlands. 

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Just now, TheDeuce said:

This is a great hire. I think EJ will succeed at Highlands. 

I sure hope so and I am rooting for Coach James to succeed. 

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I think it is also crystal clear now that Don Owen was censored by some combination of Highlands and the NKY Tribune.  

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Congrats to Coach James! I believe he will have great success!

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5 minutes ago, theguru said:

I think it is also crystal clear now that Don Owen was censored by some combination of Highlands and the NKY Tribune.  

Who cares? He could have waited. 

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Just now, TheDeuce said:

Who cares? He could have waited. 

I don't really care but it does reinforce to me that the NKY Tribune is a shill for NKY high schools. 

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2 minutes ago, Jack of all Trades said:

Glad this is over and an excellent hire.  

Agree JOAT!

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Congratulations to Coach James and Highlands on hiring a great coach.

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I watched an interview with him before the state championship on YouTube. I liked what he had to say and was about. I especially like to hear he gets heavily involved with the youth league in the community where he coached, that is a recipe for success. 

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