Prep Football Playoff Pitfall
9 champions to be crowned; only 12 teams didn’t make playoffs
The second week of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association football playoffs commence this weekend amid plenty of buzz. This is the LHSAA’s second year of teams being organized in select and non-select groupings, basically a split between private and charter (select) schools in one bracket and public (non-select) schools in another. The system has support in many corners, but also plenty of detractors, seemingly around every turn. But no matter for or against, excitement is building as the anticipation for potential fantastic matchups await.
Nine teams will be crowned state football champions this year. Four select championship games will be played on Friday, December 5, with the four consecutive contests kicking off at 10 a.m. The non-select Class 1A and 2A championships will be played a week later, on the evening of Friday, December 12. Classes 3A, 4A and 5A will play consecutively the next afternoon.
Supporters of the system say it is fair because the state’s schools are grouped by specific rules that apply to their category. For instance, non-select schools can only recruit athletes from their allowed geographic area, while select schools can register kids from however far away they are willing to travel to attend that school. Another point made is that select schools often have better financial support, resources and facilities compared to their non-select brethren. Valid points.
Detractors say there are too many champions crowned now – nine compared to five before the split – and too many teams in the playoffs. This year, only 12 Louisiana high school football teams didn’t make it to the postseason.
But before joking about this generation being soft because they all seem to get a trophy, check out the potential matchups the playoffs could produce this year. The Select Division I bracket is chock-full of recognized programs. Tonight, John Curtis and Evangel face off while Brother Martin and Catholic of Baton Rouge meet up on the top side of the bracket. St. Thomas More and Jesuit get it on and Rummel hosts Teurlings Catholic on the bottom side. Next week could see a match-up of Archbishop Rummel against Jesuit to go to the dome, while any potential meetings between the four teams in the top half would be amazing. Ultimately, all of this could lead up to a colossal clash of the titans game against perennial state champion John Curtis and the two-time defending state champion Rummel Raiders.
Each bracket has intrigue. And each winner will hold their heads high. It’s not a perfect system. But it’s fun. The playoffs are putting more fans in the stands this year than two years ago. That means more support for these programs, for our kids. In the long run, life is hard enough. Let’s give as many of our kids the opportunity to enjoy success. Don’t we know it’s all too fleeting in the real world?
LHSAA Prep Football Championship Schedule
All games will be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Friday, Dec. 5 – Select Schools
Division IV – 10:00 a.m.
Division III – 1:30 p.m.
Division II – 5:00 p.m.
Division I – 8:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 12 – Non-Select Schools
Class 1A – 4:30 p.m.
Class 2A – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 13 – Non-Select Schools
Class 3A – Noon
Class 4A – 3:30 p.m.
Class 5A – 7:00 p.m.