LHSAA to split schools in football playoffs
By GEOFF STOUTE
Principals of schools in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association voted overwhelmingly to divide the state’s high schools that offer football into “select” and “nonselect” classes when state playoffs start, effective this fall.
Principals voted 206-119 for the move.
With the change, there now will be seven state champions crowned this fall instead of the traditional five.
In addition to the five champions crowned among nonselect schools, two state champions will be crowned among select schools, defined as those who are private school, charter school, full magnet schools, laboratory schools and dual-curriculum schools in which a minimum of 25 percent of their “magnet component enrollment comes from outside a traditional attendance zone,” according to The Baton Rouge Advocate.
Schools in the select group will be put in two divisions, Division 1, which is comprised of schools in Classes 5A-3A, and Division 2, which is made up of schools in Classes 2A and 1A.
The change means Central Catholic now is a select school, while Morgan City, Berwick and Patterson High schools remain nonselect schools.
While they will compete in separate playoffs, these select and nonselect schools will continue to compete against each other during the regular season.
Another proposal, which would have split these same schools into select and non-select schools in all major sports and eliminated classes B and C, didn’t have enough support to be considered by Friday’s delegation.
Locally, Central Catholic Principal Vic Bonnaffee said he thought schools voted for their own interests rather than looking at the tradition of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
“My gut reaction is that the motion passed overwhelmingly, because the Louisiana High School Athletic Association is overwhelmingly made up 2 to 1 of public school principals,” Bonnaffee, who is a member of the LHSAA executive committee, said. “I believe that individuals voted based upon their personal agendas in regards to their individual schools rather than looking at the tradition and history of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. What they passed did not solve any problems because the public school system still has a tier of excellence that a very large number of schools will still not be eligible for state championships in football.”
Bonnaffee, who voted against the proposal, said members are no longer treated fairly.
Central Catholic football coach David Fuhrer said that he thought things could have been handled in a better way than splitting the schools like they did because of the dominance that John Curtis and Evangel have had in high school football.
“The bottom line is I don’t think they thought it through as well,” he said.
Berwick High School Principal Buffy Fegenbush and Patterson High School Principal Rachael Wilson both voted for the measure to split in football, referred to as Proposition 18.
Fegenbush said she thought it was smart to only make changes right now in one sport.
“Small steps are probably much better for us to take than a wide sweeping jump,” she said.
However, she noted that there are other issues in other sports, too, though, that need to be addressed.
Wilson said that during the meeting, there were “quite a few ridiculous analogies” offered by select schools for their argument, something she said she thought turned off the principals that were on the proverbial fence.
“I’m very happy that we’re doing the split,” she said. “Eventually, hopefully, we can get it for all sports.”
She said she thinks a sweeping change for all sports would pass when issues, such as dividing Class B and C schools into divisions more compatible with their enrollments rather than trying to lump them with larger schools, are hammered out.
Wilson also noted that the passage of a split playoff for football can be looked at again if need be.
“It’s not like we’re carving this in stone,” she said.
Morgan City Principal Mickey Fabre could not be reached for comment this morning.
As for the future of the select schools, Bonnaffee said meetings between select school coaches and principals are ongoing about their next steps.
Information from The Baton Rouge Advocate was used in this article.