(Hopefully) This will be the final year of the split
But don't count on it.
I'm referring to the above headline that may be more wishful thinking than a call to principals to end the absurd system of separating public from non-public schools during post-season championship play.
The men and women who run the schools and write the rules in the LHSAA handbook enjoy the fruits of their playground conception that nine championship trophies should be doled out in a state that has just five classes of competition.
So, once again, the LHSAA will have to rent the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for games to be played on Dec. 4 and again on Dec. 11-12, at a combined, tidy, six-figure sum.
The association’s executive director, Eddie Bonine, and its president, Vic Bonnaffee, want to do away with holding separate playoffs, and I suspect one or more items on the January 2016 convention agenda will reflect the wishes of the executive committee.
In the meantime, there will be four championship games for Select schools on Dec. 4, two more games to determine Non-select titlists in classes 1A and 2A on Dec. 11, then the final three classes (3A, 4A and 5A) will be decided on Dec. 12.
Another Catholic champion?
On a positive note, the dual playoffs have given the Catholic League a chance to return to prominence.
Until Archbishop Rummel won back-to-back titles in 2012 (the last year for a combined playoff) and 2013, followed by Jesuit in 2014, no Catholic League team had won a state championship since 1988.
Because Division I of the Selects has just 10 teams – and eight are Catholic schools – the prospects of another local parochial champion is probable. The non-Catholic schools in this division are John Curtis and Evangel, both Christian schools.
Rummel drew the top seed, and, as such, is one of six schools to watch from the sidelines in this week’s first round.
The Raiders, who gave head coach Jay Roth his 204th victory in a 30-12 win over St. Augustine last Saturday, will host the winner of the Jesuit vs. Archbishop Shaw game on or about Nov. 20.
Rummel has already beaten Shaw, 49-14, and Jesuit, 28- 14. And under a singular playoff system, it’s likely that neither school with a 4-6 record would have qualified for the post-season.
Also as a No. 1 seed, let me point out that Rummel is somewhat at a disadvantage in the semifinal playoff round because it will be deemed the “visiting team.”
“Why,” you ask?
Remember 2013 – Leonard Fournette’s senior season at St. Aug?
The Purple Knights won the district championship. On the way, they thumped Rummel, 35-21, at Tad Gormley Stadium.
But because St. Aug drew a first-round bye, it was the home team in the regional playoff round. The Knights easily won again to advance to the semis. But they did so as a visitor against Rummel at Joe Yenni Stadium. The Raiders sprung a 31-28 upset on a miracle play, then went on to win the Division I title.
Again, just last season, Rummel was an undefeated district champion. Among its victories was a 10-7 knee-knocker over Jesuit. But when the two met again, this time at Gormley with Jesuit as the home team, it was the Blue Jays who ended Rummel’s unbeaten streak of 17 games, 28-14, and went to the Dome where it captured its first title since 1960.
If incidents occur in threes, one can see history repeating itself in three weeks.
Rummel’s first “home game” is its week off. It will then be the home team in the regional round. If the Raiders win again, they will be the visi- tors in the semis against the winner of the John Curtis-St. Paul’s game. Rummel has beaten both.
If Curtis wins, the game will be played at Yenni, which is the home stadium for both schools. If St. Paul’s wins, the Raiders will visit Hunter Stadium on the St. Paul’s campus, where they beat the Wolves in an August jamboree game.
No. 3 Brother Martin is on the easier side of the bracket (if such a thing exists).
The Crusaders are an interesting group. Their offense averages 46 points per game. And it has to because their opponents average 35 points.
Still with a fine 8-2 record and a Top 10 ranking, Martin will host a fellow Brothers of the Sacred Heart school, Catholic High, on or about Nov. 20.
Also on Martin’s side of the bracket are No. 2, Evangel, which will host the winner of the No. 7 Holy Cross vs. No. 10 St. Augustine game. Holy Cross won the first meeting, 23-19.
Three more to watch
Well, De La Salle’s dream season ended after nine consecutive wins when it lost the District 9-3A title to Lutcher, 20-12. Now the two will go their separate ways.
De La Salle (9-1) is the No. 3 seed in Division II and will host No. 6 Teurlings Catholic (7-3), while Lutcher is the top Dog in the Class 3A playoffs.
The loss was costly for the Cavs. Teurlings will be their most difficult opponent to date, and if they win, they will have to visit No. 2 St. Thomas More.
St. Charles Catholic is No. 5 in the Division III playoffs and will host No. 12 Opelousas Catholic (7-3). A rematch with Riverside may also loom in the Comets’ future.
Joining them will be Archbishop Hannan (7-3), which enters Division II as a No. 13 seed. The Hawks draw undefeated and No. 4 Madison Prep in Baton Rouge.