Principals vote to split prep football playoffs starting next year

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

BATON ROUGE — After more than a decade

of debate and several votes to keep the status quo, Louisiana High

School Athletic

Associations principals approved what amounts to a public/private

school split for the football playoffs at Friday’s general

business meeting.

The proposal passed Friday will go into

effect next season. The regular season will remain the same but create

two new postseason

divisions for “select” schools — defined as all non-public,

charter, university lab, magnet and dual-curriculum schools that

include at least 25 percent of their enrollment as

select-admission students who do not live in the designated attendance

zone.

Select schools in Classes 5A-3A will form Division I for the playoffs, while those in Classes 2A and 1A will comprise Division

II. Non-select/public schools will compete in Classes 5A-1A.

In Southwest Louisiana, private schools

St. Louis Catholic and Hamilton Christian will be designated select

schools, with

St. Louis going into Division I and Hamilton into Division II for

the postseason. Washington-Marion, which has a dual-curriculum

enrollment, does not meet the 25 percent threshold and will be

grouped with the non-select/public schools, said W-M Principal

Robert Pete.

St. Louis and Hamilton voted against the split. The vote was 206 votes in favor of the split, 119 against, and largely went

according to partisan lines with most public schools voting in favor and most private schools voting against.

“I voted no because I don’t like to split us up. I think kids are all the same,” said St. Louis Principal Ted Nixon. “I think

when we split ourselves up we become weaker. When you look at Division I, we are going to have a tough road to hoe. We’ll

see how it works. We are going into unchartered waters.”

Enrollment size has been the lone criterion used for separating LHSAA schools during the organization’s history.

That will change as a result of increasing backlash against the dominance of private schools at the Superdome Prep Classic.

In the 2012 edition, seven of the 10 participants — and four of the five champions, were private schools. John Curtis Christian

has appeared in 17 consecutive championship games.

The Patriots, and fellow 2A superpower

Evangel Christian, will have a rougher time extending that streak. In a

handout from

Commissioner Kenny Henderson showing how the schools could be

separated, Curtis and Evangel were two of the smallest three

Division I schools. They voluntarily moved up to Class 3A during

fall redistricting and will be grouped with 5A schools with

the likes of as last year’s champion Archbishop Rummel, Jesuit and

St. Paul’s.

Issues to be worked out include determining which select schools qualify for the playoffs, and which dual-curriculum schools

will be classified as select schools.

LHSAA bylaws calling for 32-team football playoff brackets were left unchanged, but there could be as few as 27 non-select

schools in Class 1A.

Also approved were proposals calling

for a return to the old format for basketball playoffs, with separate

championship tournaments

for boys and girls. Each tournament will host semifinal and final

rounds. Sites will be determined by bid this summer.

Last season and this season, three regional sites host all semifinal-round games, with all championship games played at one

site.

The Class 5A baseball playoffs will

have a new format beginning in 2014, with a single game in the

bi-district round followed

by best 2-of-3 series in the regional and quarterfinal rounds. The

state tournament will be reduced from eight teams to four,

but remain single elimination.