Division I football finale as ‘Select’ as it can get
Never to my knowledge or in my research have there been three schools from the same district among the final four competitors for a high school football championship in Louisiana.
But thanks to the LHSAA’s quirky dual-playoff system for that sport, three of the Select Division I finalists are members of District 9-5A, the Catholic League.
In one half of the bracket is district champion Archbishop Rummel, the No. 2 seed, against district runner-up Jesuit, the No. 6 seed. On the other half is the third-place team in 9-5A, Brother Martin, a No. 5 overall seed, against No. 1 seed, John Curtis.
Moving up from Class 3A to explore its chances of winning a championship in the state’s highest class for the first time, Curtis has never faced Brother Martin. But the Patriots have won more games against 5A competition than they have lost and have 26 championship trophies in their fold. Brother Martin has one (1971).
On the other side, Rummel has won state championships in 2012 and 2013 and is on a 17-game win streak, which includes a hard-fought 10-7 victory over Jesuit on Oct. 25.
Although the Raiders are just getting used to winning state titles, Jesuit has a long history. The Blue Jays won their first in 1933, just four years after the public school principals voted to allow private and parochial schools to join their exclusive club.
Jesuit won four more in the 1940s, including 1940, 1941, 1943 and 1946. The Jays won again in 1953 and added its seventh and final (so far) championship in 1960.
A Rummel victory in the finals would make it the first Catholic League team to three-peat.
Catholic League schools have met in the finals three times.
➤ Holy Cross defeated Jesuit, 14-6, at Tulane Stadium in 1963, marking the first year two teams from the same district were allowed to play for championship honors.
➤ Brother Martin, just two years old at the time, defeated district rival St. Augustine, 23-0, at Tad Gormley Stadium in 1971.
➤ St. Augustine won its third title of the 1970s when the Purple Knights defeated Jesuit, 13-7, before 50,000 spectators in the Louisiana Superdome in 1978.
Will there be a fourth? That was to be determined following Friday’s (Nov. 28) semifinal round between Martin and Curtis at Gormley. Kickoff was set for 7 p.m.
Jesuit was set to host Rummel on Saturday (Nov. 29) at 6 p.m. at Gormley.
Rummel earned a semis berth by beating Teurlings Catholic, 28-20, giving Jay Roth his 195th coaching victory. Jesuit eliminated St. Thomas More, 20-13; Brother Martin edged Catholic High, 25-23, and Curtis defeated Evangel, 13-7.
Comets move on
St. Charles Catholic, playing in its 14th consecutive postseason under head coach Frank Monica, takes a 9-2 record into the Division II semifinal round following the Comets’ 24-0 victory over District 11-3A rival De La Salle on Nov. 21.
St. Charles won the 2011 Class 3A title by beating Amite, 9-8, and was runner-up in 2005 and 2006 to John Curtis.
The No. 3 seed Comets were to face No. 7 Parkview Baptist in Baton Rouge Nov. 28.
About the LHSAA
Although the names have yet to be formally announced, John Cavell, a former principal at Archbishop Hannan, is among the candidates for the vacant executive director position. He announced that candidacy himself.
Other candidates include, but are not limited to, Port Barré principal Bill Duplechain and Rhonda Dreibelbis, who was an assistant executive director until she left the LHSAA two years ago.
Duplechain, a former LHSAA president, was among the candidates when the executive committee elected Kenny Henderson in 2008.
Prior to joining the LHSAA, Dreibelbis served as teacher, coach, athletic director and assistant principal for 16 years in both Lafayette and Vermilion parishes. She was inducted into the LHSBCA (basketball) Coaches Hall of Fame in March 2011.
My feeling is that the LHSAA executive committee will not act on hiring Henderson’s replacement until after the January 2015 annual convention and reclassification of the member schools, which takes place in February.
At the moment, former LaGrange principal Jimmy Anderson is serving as acting executive director.
Anderson, who commutes from his home in Lake Charles to Baton Rouge three days a week, is a capable administrator and former president of the association. Now retired from the school system, he would be a prime candidate for the position but said he is not interested in a full-time job.
And among the convention agenda items will be a proposal to further split the public and non-public schools for the sports of boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball and softball. And look for another try to reunite classes 5A and 4A for one, common football playoff but to maintain separate playoffs in classes 3A, 2A and 1A.