The Fort Thomas Independent school district announced Saturday that it has hired Eddie James as the next varsity football coach at Highlands High School.
James will oversee all aspects of the Bluebirds' 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.
James was 35-12 at Franklin County, his alma mater. After the Flyers went 5-6 in 2017, James led them to a 10-3 record in 2018, 11-1 in 2019 and 9-2 last season.
“The Highlands Bluebirds represent one of the true blueblood programs in the Commonwealth 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 football field.”
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 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,” 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’ 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 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.”
Highlands will introduce James at a press conference 1 p.m. Sunday. Livestream of the press conference will be available on the District Facebook page and Film/Broadcast YouTube channel: https://broadcast.hhsbirds.com
James replaces Brian Weinrich, who was 51-36 in seven seasons. His first season, 2014, the Bluebirds went 13-2 and won the 4A state championship, Highlands' last title and 23rd all-time. Weinrich was an assistant coach for nearly 20 years, helping the program win 11 state titles.
Highlands ended this season with 906 all-time wins, third in Kentucky history.