LHSAA opts to combine Classes 3A and 4A for select football playoffs
CROWLEY – The ‘Road to the Dome’ just got a lot bumpier for Class 3A schools, including Notre Dame.
The perennial powerhouse, which has advanced to the Class 3A state football championship game seven times in the last 12 years and won two titles, now finds itself competing not only with 3A teams for a state championship, but 4A teams as well.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee made that official when it met Thursday to finalize an acceptable playoff system for it’s newly-created “select schools” division.
The committee opted for four select divisions to complete its split football playoff plan and in doing so, the group lumped Class 4A and 3A into one division.
The five 4A schools slated for the division were all in favor of the decision as were eight of the 3A schools.
Notre Dame, E.D. White and De La Salle were opposed to the move.
“Obviously, you’d rather play within your class,” said Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook of the decision. “The reason I wasn’t for the combining of 4A and 3A is because the more separation you have in enrollment, the worse it is for our kids. Now we have to play against 4A schools with 1,000 students and we only have 420.
“But at the same time, let’s make a decision and let’s go. I’m fine with it.”
The enrollment figures were what ultimately led the panel to its decision of combining 3A and 4A instead of 4A and 5A, said officials.
“The original plan was to put 4A and 5A together, but when they looked at the discrepancy of the numbers from the 5A’s down to the 4A’s, there was much more of a gap than it would have been by putting the 4A’s with the 3A’s,” said Cook.
For now, Division I (Class 5A) will consist of 10 teams, Division II (Class 3A and 4A) will consist of 16, Division III (Class 2A) will consist of 15 and Division IV (Class 1A) will consist of 30.
Cook said is pleased with the fact that his division will have an even amount of teams. With 16 teams, there will be three rounds of playoff games leading up to the finals and the winners of the two semifinal contests will likely get the fourth playoff date off before the championship game.
“I like that we have 16 teams,” said Cook. “There will be no byes. It’s better than having 13 or 11 teams and you could only end up playing two weeks. Somebody would get a bye the first week then if you win the next two, you are in the finals.
“There are 15 teams in 2A and 30 in 1A so it is what it is. Everybody is going to make the playoffs. All the select schools are going to be in the playoffs. If you are a select school, you know you are either going to be playing or have a bye in Week 11.”
Experts agree that Division II is the most difficult of the four.
As it was the case before the split, Class 2A powers John Curtis and Evangel had already elected to play up in class, joining traditional Class 3A powers Notre Dame, Parkview, St. Charles and E.D. White just to name a few.
Now, the field includes newcomers like Class 4A’s St. Thomas More, Teurlings, Vandebilt, Loyola Prep and St. Michael.
With a lineup like that, the playoff picture looks more like a semifinal matchup each week.
“Whether this had passed or not, (John) Curtis and Evangel were going to play up so that by itself changed the whole dynamic of 3A,” said Cook. “Now, you throw STM and Teurlings in there and, of course, you still have Parkview and St. Charles and E.D. White and those people.
“It’s going to be a really good, competitive playoff bracket now.”
Coaches and administrators agree that even with a plan, there could still be a change made at some point during the season due to expected legal challenges.
“I know that there’s been a group of attorneys that have been looking at the (LHSAA) constitution and the way that the proposal is written,” said Cook. “The constitution says that a school can’t play down, but now the 4A’s are going to play down to 3A in the playoffs.
“So there is probably going to be some injunctions filed. I don’t know for sure, but just hearing what everyone was talking about at these earlier meetings, I would think so.”
The executive committee also voted to place nine of its school relations committee’s other recommendations aimed at alleviating tensions between its schools to the January agenda for all principals to vote on.
Items to be considered include review of transfer rules, allowing schools to play up to any class, requiring private schools that offer financial aid to use an appropriate financial aid processing service or software and unannounced compliance checks at all schools.
LHSAA Select Schools
Here is a list of Louisiana High School Athletic Association schools listed as select schools for football playoff purposes in 2013 as of June 7.
Private schools: Catholic-Baton Rouge, St. Paul’s-Covington, Archbishop Rummel-Metairie, Archbishop Shaw-Marrero, Brother Martin-New Orleans, Holy Cross-New Orleans, Jesuit-New Orleans, St. Augustine-New Orleans.
Magnet/dual curriculum: C.E. Byrd-Shreveport, Scotlandville-BR.
(17 schools, 16 playing for championship honors)
Class 4A private schools: Loyola Prep- Shreveport, St. Thomas More-Lafayette, Teurlings Catholic-Lafayette, St. Michael the Archangel-BR, Vandebilt Catholic-Houma.
Note: Ben Franklin-New Orleans does not play football for championship honors.
Class 3A private schools: Evangel Christian-Shreveport, St. Louis Catholic-Lake Charles, Notre Dame-Crowley, Parkview Baptist-BR, E.D. White Catholic-Thibodaux, John Curtis-River Ridge, DeLaSalle-NO, St. Charles Catholic-LaPlace.
Charter schools: Lusher Charter-NO
Magnet school: Thomas Jefferson.
Laboratory school: University High-BR.
Private schools: Calvary Baptist-Shreveport, Holy Savior Menard-Alexandria, Catholic-NI, Opelousas Catholic, Westminster Christian, Dunham-BR, Episcopal-BR, Redemptorist-BR, St. Thomas Aquinas-Hammond, Archbishop Hannan-Madisonville, Northlake Christian-Covington, Pope John Paul II-Slidell, Newman-NO, Riverside Academy-Reserve.
Magnet: Haynes Academy.
Private schools: Cedar Creek-Ruston, Ouachita Christian-Monroe, St, Frederick-Monroe, St. Mary’s-Natchitoches. Hamilton Christian-Lake Charles, Catholic-Pointe Coupee (New Roads), False River Academy-New Roads, Sacred Heart-Ville Platte, St. Edmund-Eunice, Christian Life-BR, Ascension Episcopal-Cade, Central Catholic-Morgan City, Hanson Memorial-Franklin, Highland Baptist-New Iberia, Lafayette Christian, Vermilion Catholic-Abbeville, Ascension Catholic-Donaldsonville, St. John-Plaquemine, Ascension Christian-Gonzales, Convenant Christian-Houma, Crescent City-Metairie, Ecole Classique-NO, Houma Christian, Metairie Park Country Day, Ridgewood Prep-Metairie, St. Martin’s-Metairie.
Charter: Delhi Charter-Delhi, Madison Prep-BR
Laboratory schools: Grambling, Southern Lab.