‘Battle for Gentilly’ should decide 9-5A champion

    The once famous psychic Criswell made millions by doling out outlandish and unfounded predictions of what lay ahead in the future, none of which were true.
    I always believed that Criswell’s real claim to fame was his cameo appearance in the pseudo horror film, “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” credited by critics as the “worst movie ever made.” It is. I have it in my DVD collection.
    With that in mind, your humble writer will gaze into the future to formally predict the outcome of the various districts in which Archdiocese of New Orleans schools are members.
    No crystal ball – just observation from the early games I have seen and photographed.
    One caveat: I have yet to see every school play, but I have three close “allies” I call upon – wins, losses and power rankings.
    For what it is or is not worth, here we go:
    Let’s begin at the top: The Catholic League (District 9-5A).
    As it was in football before  its last semifinal round game, all signs point to St. Augustine as the champion.
    But don’t count out the Purple Knights’ Gentilly rival, Brother Martin. The Crusaders have a strong starting five and enough depth to be a factor.
    If there is a dark horse in this district, it’s Jesuit. Led by the district’s dean of coaches, Chris Jennings, and a forward who could be the best in the district, Trey Laforge, the Blue Jays are a title threat.
    How they’ll finish  (record at the start of the week in parentheses): 1. St. Augustine (15-5), 2. Brother Martin (15-4), 3. Jesuit (8-5), 4. Archbishop Rummel (10-10), 5. Holy Cross (11-5), 6. Archbishop Shaw (4-12).
    This race will be exciting for the simple reason that all six schools are well-coached, and victories not only mean bragging rights for the winner, but a step closer to the Class 5A playoffs.
    St. Augustine, Brother Martin and Jesuit have the power rankings to qualify at the moment, but Rummel, at No. 35, and Holy Cross, at No. 36, are below the number needed (No. 32) to play in the post season.
    Hammond, Mandeville and Slidell are the only teams in District 6-5A which are playoff-eligible, according to LHSAA power rankings. A strong showing by St. Paul’s could put the Wolves in that picture as well. But their work is cut out as play begins.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Hammond (13-4), 2. Slidell (11-6), 3. Mandeville (13-6), 4. St. Paul’s (8-9), 5. Covington (7-11), 6. Northshore (4-10),  7. Ponchatoula (5-8), 8. Fontainebleau (5-13).
    The top five teams in Class 5A are Scotlandville (19-1), Byrd (17-2), Dutchtown (14-2), Natchitoches Central (13-3) and St. Augustine.
    In District 11-3A, John Curtis would like to add another trophy to its collection, and so would the public school dissident principals who are looking for another excuse to separate themselves from their “select” counterparts in all sports.
    The Patriots have enough ability to be accommodating, but Lusher Charter and De La Salle will not let the Pats  step over them without a say.  The three are the only playoff-eligible teams in this district to date.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Curtis (8-5), 2. De La Salle (13-6), 3. Lusher (10-7), 4. St. Charles Catholic (7-7), 5. McMain (1-13).
    When the statewide polls are published, you’ll find University Lab (12-3), Richwood (15-3), Amite (10-4), Port Allen (10-5) and Patterson (8-1) as the top five.
    Winner of its last six games, Northlake Christian appears to be the team to beat in District 8-2A, and unfortunately, neither Archbishop Hannan nor Pope John Paul II look to be the spoilers. They rank No. 50 and 52, respectively, in the LHSAA power rankings.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Northlake Christian (11-10), 2. Mount Hermon (4-7), 3. Pope John Paul II (5-11), 4. Pine (4-14), 5. Archbishop Hannan (2-12).
    The best in this class, statewide, are Riverside Academy (11-1), Lakeview (13-4), Dunham (14-4), Episcopal (12-5) and Opelousas Catholic (11-3).
Girls have few qualifiers
    As of the start of district play,  just two schools – Mount Carmel in Class 5A, and Cabrini in 4A – are ranked high enough to qualify for the girls’ state playoffs. St. Katharine Drexel Prep, at No. 33, is a notch below in its class.
    District 9-5A has just three teams, but the race may already be over in this girls’ Catholic League.
    Mount Carmel is enjoying a 16-5 record despite a few nagging injuries. The Cubs have survived because of their outstanding depth, an asset which should carry them through this six-game district campaign.
    Because this district is small, there will be three rounds of play. And if either Dominican or Archbishop Chapelle is to make the playoffs, it will have to win the district championship.
    Dominican has also been beset by injuries, but unlike the Cubs, it does not have the depth to overcome having key players sidelined.
    Winner of its last three games, Chapelle is improving and will play hard.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Mount Carmel (16-5), 2. Dominican (7-12), 3. Archbishop Chapelle (7-10).
    The state’s top five in Class 5A are Denham Springs (17-2), West Monroe (18-3), Walker (17-3), Ouachita (18-2) and Destrehan (15-1).
    There’s good and bad news for Cabrini, which has finally blossomed under the coaching of veteran Nancy Walsh. The good news is that the Crescents are ranked No. 3 in Class 4A. But, they rank behind two other local girls’ powers:  No. 1 Salmen and No. 2 Warren Easton, a member of Cabrini’s district, 9-4A.
    Ursuline Academy is also a member of District 9-4A.  But despite the leadership of All-State guard Jenna Deemer, the Lions are basically a young team and have little experience to support her talent.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Warren Easton (18-2), 2. Cabrini (13-6), 3. East Jefferson (11-3), 4. Ben Franklin (7-9), 5. Riverdale (2-10), 6. Ursuline (3-14).
    St. Scholastica should be a contender for third place in District 8-4A whose powers are clearly Salmen and Franklinton.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Salmen (15-1), 2. Franklinton (13-4), 3. St. Scholastica (9-10), 4. Pearl River (7-8), 5. Lakeshore (5-17).
    The Academy of Our Lady would have fared better by moving up to Class 5A to compete against Mount Carmel, Dominican and Chapelle. Instead, the Penguins are in a league with some athletic teams. Yet, just one, Edna Karr, is likely to make the playoffs.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Karr (11-4), 2. Belle Chasse (9-7), 3. Landry-Walker (11-7), 4. McDonogh 35 (5-12), 5. Academy of  Our Lady (5-12), 6. Lake Area New Tech (5-12).
    John Curtis is not among the top five in Class 3A, but it is queen of a sweetheart district, being the only team with a winning record.
    Drexel Prep needs to finish second to assure itself of a playoff berth.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Curtis (17-3), 2. Drexel (5-8), 3. Lusher (6-8), 4. St. Charles Catholic (7-10), 5. De La Salle (4-9), 6. McMain (7-9), 7. Academy of the Sacred Heart (4-10), 8. McGehee (2-6).
    No. 16 Pine is the team to beat in District 8-2A. Northlake Christian is also a contender, but Archbishop Hannan needs to have a strong showing to move into playoff position, now sitting at No. 35.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Pine (12-8), 2. Northlake Christian (6-7), 3. Archbishop Hannan (9-9), 4. Pope John Paul II (2-9), 5. Mount Hermon (1-13).
    Riverside Academy is the only team in District 9-2A that figures to make the playoffs, unless it is upset by one of the other four. And St. Mary’s Academy has the best chance of being the spoiler. The others have not been very competitive.
    How they’ll finish: 1. Riverside (12-8), 2. St. Mary’s (5-11), 3. St. James (3-18), 4. Sci Academy (1-6).
    So, there you have it. The  New Orleans Advocate and The Times-Picayune should soon follow suit as district play begins around the metro area.
    Anyway, Criswell would have predicted they will.
    Ron Brocato can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
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