An old school player in a modern world, Scotty Bailey doesn’t subscribe to the me-first approach that many of his counterparts in the high school sports scene of today follow.
Bailey concerns himself with only one stat when the game is over and that’s whether his team won or lost, a big reason why the coaches at Harlan County High School are unanimous in singing the praises of the 6-foot multi-sport star.
In a time when two-sports standouts are rare, Bailey is in the midst of a senior season where he is a key player on three teams at HCHS. He is a standout quarterback/defensive back in football, provided valuable leadership as a forward after the basketball Bears were wiped out by graduation following last year’s regional runner-up finish and serves as a shortstop/catcher/pitcher for the HCHS baseball team that was also a regional runner-up and district champion last season.
Bailey’s brains, athleticism and leadership made him a popular target for colleges around the state. After touring several schools during the winter, Bailey announced his selection Wednesday in a signing ceremony at the school. He chose the University of the Cumberlands and football, joining a program that was an NAIA national runner-up last fall
“Scotty is a hard working player who comes from a good program in Harlan County,” said Cumberlands assistant coach Phillip Wells. “We feel he can be a real good player for us in the future.”
Harlan County native Matt Rhymer was recently named the new head coach of the Patriots, which could lead to more local players finding their way to the University of the Cumberlands.
“Coach Rhymer takes pride in where he’s from, so we’ll be back. This a good football program with quality players,” Wells said.
Bailey made several visits, including Morehead State, Carson Newman, Lindsey Wilson and Thomas More. He narrowed his list to the Cumberlands and Lindsey Wilson before choosing the Williamsburg school.
“They just played for a national championship and they are a winning program,” Bailey said. “I will be going from a winning program here to a winning program there. Maybe we can take that next step. Coach Rhymer talked to me constantly and told me I would be welcomed with open arms.”
Bailey will be remembered as one of Harlan County High School’s best all-around athletes and played a part in numerous championship teams that will provide plenty of pleasant memories through the years.
“It’s been a great experience. I wouldn’t change anything about my experience at Harlan County,” he said. “It’s a great school with great coaches who have taught me a lot about being a player and a man in life. They taught me life lessons.”
Bailey already knew quite a bit about being a good teammate and a leader when he arrived at Harlan County after starring in middle school at Cumberland. Bailey’s father, Scotty, was a standout football player at Cumberland in the late 80s, starting on the Class A state runner-up team in 1986 as a sophomore being going to to play four years at Morehead State University as a nose guard.
“My dad always taught me to put my team first and work hard,” Bailey said. “I’d rather win a championship, even if I struck out or didn’t score any touchdowns or points. I love my team. Even though I just played basketball for one year, I feel like I played for four years. They are all part of my family.”
That unselfish attitude made Bailey popular among his teammates and coaches.
“He’s the dream player to have on your football team. His attitude and leadership have been outstanding” Harlan County football coach Tom Larkey said. “He’s a great athlete who has played several positions. He moved to quarterback with no experience and led our team to a regional championship. He came back this year did a superb job at quarterback and defensive back. He will really be missed. I really am proud of him and think he will do a great job at the University of the Cumberlands.”
“Scotty has been a blessing for us,” Harlan County assistant basketball coach Michael Jones said. “He works his butt off every day and never says a word. He isn’t worried about stats. He just does his job and has been a great addition to our team.”
Bailey moved from receiver to quarterback midway through his junior season and helped lead the Bears to their second Region 4 title. He had an even better year as a senior, passing for 648 yards and running for 434. He had eight touchdowns rushing and nine passing with only two interceptions. Despite his success in high school at quarterback, the move to college will likely signal a return to Bailey’s original position of receiver.