Separate playoffs fiasco continues for another year
A tremendous regular season it has been in Louisiana prep football. And, now that the playoffs have arrived, we could anticipate some terrific matchups.
In Class 5A, Evangel vs. Destrehan would be a great game, with the winner perhaps playing West Monroe. Lutcher and De La Salle, who played for the district title, would be a great playoff rematch in Class 3A.
In Class 2A, Many vs. St. Thomas Aquinas or Riverside would be a must-see game. So, would Vermilion Catholic against either Kentwood or Southern in Class 1A.
But, of course, those games will not happen. In January 2013, public school principals voted overwhelmingly to split the football playoffs into public and private school brackets. What has followed since then has not been good for Louisiana high school football.
We are coming up on a three-year sample. And, that sample says the quality of the playoffs has been diluted dramatically.
In the first round in 2014 in Class 5A, here were some results: Ponchatoula 76, South Lafourche 22; Destrehan 54, Pineville 0; Hahnville 61, Natchitoches Central 14.
In the Division I first round, John Curtis, Catholic, St. Thomas More and Rummel had byes. Jesuit and John Curtis played for the Division I championship on the first Friday in December. It was the last of four “select” school championship games on Friday. It kicked off at approximately 9:40 p.m.
While the “selects” were playing their title games, semifinal games in the public school pla offs were being played throughout the state.
It was total nonsense.
So, Notre Dame of Crowley coach Lewis Cook has proposed a rural/metro playoff system. If your school is within 9.5 miles of a major metro area, you are metro. If not, you are rural.
The proposal has several scenarios, among them three rural titles and three metro titles. Or four rural football championships and four metro championships.
LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine says he’s “optimistic” he can get the public and private schools back together under one playoff umbrella. When he officially began working last March 1, it was his No. 1 task. It still is.
Several principals have weighed in privately. What I have heard is mixed. Last week, a public school principal said he hoped that, at the very least, all the championships could be contested on one weekend.
If that is the best that comes out of the January convention – a yes vote to play on the same weekend – that is sad. Playing for a state championship used to be special. Now, “getting to the Superdome” is viewed as some kind of right – like, every school deserves a chance.
That is flawed reasoning. Winning a championship and surviving five weeks of distractions, road trips, bad weather and bad luck were supposed to be the ultimate test.
Not any more.