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Arceneaux: Decision to split playoffs hardly creates perfect situation

Last Modified: Saturday, January 26, 2013 9:23 PM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

The venom spewed by public school principals toward the private schools and their dominant football programs reached a new high Friday when Louisiana High School Athletic Association principals voted to separate public and private schools for the football playoffs in each of the next two seasons.

The principals will get to enjoy seeing the private powers beat up on each other in the playoffs, but the action taken Friday hardly creates a perfect situation.

What it does is satisfy the blood lust of principals and coaches who are tired of seeing a few private powers, most notably John Curtis Christian and Evangel Christian, but lately Parkview Baptist, Notre Dame, Karr and Ouachita Christian as well, form an oligarchy that passed most of the football championship trophies among themselves.

Ensuring private schools won’t win the Class 5A-1A football trophies is the only sure thing the split accomplishes in the short term.

In the process, the split creates a new set of problems, some of which must be quickly solved before next season begins. Others may lead to long-reaching problems that could include the departure of private schools from the organization.

As things stand, as few as 27 public schools could be competing for next year’s Class 1A championship. In a 32-team bracket. Grand Lake may have a playoff bid secured before it ever takes the field for a varsity game as part of the program’s rebirth.

It has not been determined how the private school playoff teams will be selected, only that participating coaches will vote to seed them. The power ratings that are used now can’t be applied because the public schools will be competing in various classes for the regular seasons before being lopped together into two divisions for the playoffs.

That’s probably an issue the public schools, which voted overwhelmingly in favor of the split, are not concerned with. They just wanted private schools out, and got their wish.

There are still several schools that offer dual curriculums that might be sent to play with the private schools. Schools that get more than 25 percent of its enrollment from outside their designated attendance zone will be designated “select” schools and sent to play with the privates for the postseason.

One of the big questions now will be, What price did the desired split cost?

It could be a big one.

Being shunned, with widespread recruiting and varying eligibility rules among the reasons given by the public schools, does not give the privates much reason to remain in the association, in terms of football.

With the private schools also filling the trophy cases with titles from other sports, it is probably not too long before a similar split occurs in other sports as well.

At which point, necessity might be the only motivating factor that keeps the private schools in the organization.

There were alternatives the principals could have considered, including a past proposal — which failed — that would have allowed private schools to play up just in football, on the condition that they move into the highest class, which would have been a “super class” made up of those powers looking for the highest level of competition and the schools with the highest enrollments.

But, at Friday’s meeting, the intentions of the principals were clear: get rid of the private powers so we have a shot at the trophies. Everything else will be worried about later.

Now they have the private schools out, but maybe not really a better shot at the trophies. There is no guarantee a small group of public schools — such as West Monroe and Acadiana in 5A, Neville in 4A or Haynesville in 1A, won’t dominate the championship games the same way the private schools did.

The proposed solution passed Friday may simply result in new, and still few, powers ruling the land. Should that occur, the only things gained will have been animosity from the private schools and further dilution of the championship trophies with two more being given out in a state that probably has too many classifications to begin with.

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Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at

Posted By: peace On: 1/30/2013

Title: out of district enrollment

What about public schools who get kids that's out of thier district and go on to dominate the schools from which those kuds belong.

Posted By: Noon On: 1/28/2013

Title: Learn the rules


Posted By: Neil On: 1/27/2013

Title: unfair to public school what was happening

It is unfair to public school kids when they have to compete against private school that has no legal boundary but public school kids have to play only with kids inside the district boundary........this has made a mockery of high school sports for the past 10-15 years in coach has to work with kids in district but another coach gets to have kids from all over the parish and there has been recruiting by private schools so it has been unfair to public school kids.....If you think just a little bit you will realize WHY the principals voted as they did.......It is high time the public school kids should not have to compete against recruited private school teams..........Private school teams were like all star teams when public school teams are only kids in that district.........This is fact and I bet you do not post this.

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