Moving up to Division I was a smart move by J.T.
Realizing the geometric fact that the closest distance between two points is a straight line – and concluding that the fastest way for John Curtis Christian School to win its 27th state football championship was to voluntarily move up to compete in the Division I playoffs – it was a no-brainer for the school’s headmaster and head football coach, J.T. Curtis.
He was moving on up.
Curtis simply studied the math as it relates to probability and drew the ascending line from his school’s two-campus combine in River Ridge to another trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The numbers are in his favor.
John Curtis was one of four sub-Division I select schools to take advantage of an unusual decision by the LHSAA’s executive committee to allow schools to play up to the highest division in a non-classification year.
It doesn’t make sense to break a long-standing rule, but in its zeal to provide Division I with more than eight teams, the committee chose to open the door for smaller, non-public schools to compete for a championship football trophy in the highest class.
Four schools took the bait. St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic, a pair of 4A schools in Lafayette; Evangel, a small Shreveport power; and Curtis, whose program is set up to win at any level, signed on.
The four will join Catholic High of Baton Rouge, St. Paul’s and Catholic League mainstays Archbishops Rummel and Shaw, Jesuit, Brother Martin, Holy Cross and St. Augustine as Division I playoff contenders in November. All 12 will be playing in the postseason.
What makes the LHSAA decision so unusually out of the box is that these schools will continue to compete for district championship honors in their sub-Division I districts, then move up to Division I for the playoffs only.
That makes little sense, but that seems to be the modus operandi of the association these days.
The decision has been called a “new frontier” for prep football’s power brokers and the most “glamorous” Division I playoff bracket.
True, the new division will be the most powerful of any division or public school class, and it will be the most lucrative to the schools, whose support from parents, students and prep enthusiasts is unmatched by any other group of schools in the state.
And it was a wise move for J.T. to move up when you consider the following:
While the local Catholic League schools will be slugging it out the final five weeks of the regular season in a district that is highly competitive, Curtis will continue to compete in the five-team District 11-3A, whose top opposition (De La Salle and St. Charles Catholic) may be able to keep the score close until the later stages of the game before succumbing.
To be fair, Curtis’ schedule shows five competitive games early in the season against Mandeville; Lufkin, Texas; East St. John; Karr and St. Augustine. These opponents will give the Patriots enough power points to be among the top four seeds in Division I.
And what does that mean? Curtis will have a bye in the first playoff round, while eight other schools are still slugging it out. The starters on this powerful team will be well-rested because they will unlikely have to play a full game during district play. Curtis will need to win just two playoff games to play for its 27th championship trophy.
The Catholic League shapes up to be a tight race from top to bottom. To pick an order of finish, I pencil them in thusly: 1. Rummel, 2. Jesuit, 3. St. Augustine, 4. Brother Martin.
Shaw, with a solid first unit, but little depth, and Holy Cross, which lost several key positions but has a promising squad of young talent, should follow.
Depending on how the Division I bracket is stocked, the Select championship could match 2012 and 2013 champion Rummel against Curtis.
The two Jefferson Parish East Bank rivals met just once, back in 1964 when they were both football fledglings. Rummel won that game, 26-0, after losing back-to-back games against St. Aloysius’ B team and Ridgewood. How times have changed.
A unique luxury
Does this signal the dawn of a new era where Curtis will be placed in a district with the local Catholic schools? Could be, and Curtis would be the beneficiary, both financially and in terms of prestige.
And, as a K-through-12 with an elementary school that has a playground talent scout who’s also the elementary school’s football coach, the high school has a feeder of talent through the natural progression that sends most of its elementary schools a half-mile down the highway to the mother school with full knowledge of the varsity playbook.
And there’s nothing illegal about it. It’s just a perfect scenario few other schools can deploy by virtue of their structure.
And that’s a luxury a family-owned K-through-12 private school has that traditional high schools do not.