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Highlands Taps James as New Football Coach

The Highlands Bluebirds have a new head football coach.

Fort Thomas Independent Schools announced that Eddie James will take over on the sidelines at one of Kentucky's most storied programs.

James has spent the past four seasons as head coach at Franklin County, and led the team to a state runner-up finish in the Class 4A playoffs this season.

“The Highlands Bluebirds represent one of the true blue blood programs in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a gold standard when it comes to excellence,” James said in a statement. “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 football field.”

Highlands principal Matt Bertasso said that James's vision for the program separated him from the field of candidates.

“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 assistant 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 Kentucky 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 achievement back to our football program,” Highlands Athletic Director Wes Caldwell said. “Hiring Eddie represents 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 and his wife, Nikki, who also teaches special education, have two young children, and plan to relocate to Northern Kentucky in the coming months.

“Preparing for my interview at Highlands was like preparing for a big game,” James said. “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.”

James was welcomed to campus on Sunday during a socially-distanced event.

-Staff report

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