A year after finishing as the Division III select state runner-up, Catholic High of New Iberia has been mathematically eliminated from a return to postseason play.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association, which conducted a routine compliance check, informed Catholic-NI this week it used an ineligible player, forcing the Panthers to forfeit four of their six wins.
Catholic-NI, now 2-6 overall and 2-3 in District 5-2A play, hosts Sacred Heart-Ville Platte for homecoming Friday and finishes the season at No. 1 Notre Dame.
“Our chances are pretty much zero, even winning out,” said Catholic-NI coach Brent Indest, who guided the Panthers to within 27-24 of Calvary Baptist in last year’s title game. “It is what it is.”
The player in question had the requisite grade point average but not enough credits to be eligible, Indest said.
“It was a complete oversight on our part,” said Indest, who said the school self-reported the violation. “They’ve had the same system and process in place long before I got here, and it’s served them well. This time the process failed, and we have to step in, review the process and make sure this never happens again.”
The LHSAA said the player, a reserve who saw action on special teams, played against Erath, Delcambre, West St. Mary and Loreauville — all teams that received wins by virtue of the ruling.
Indest said the player was injured and didn’t play in District 5-2A wins over Jeanerette and Opelousas Catholic.
The loss of four victories dropped Catholic-NI’s unofficial power rating to No. 19, outside the threshold of the LHSAA’s 16-team bracket for Division III.
Indest and CHSNI principal Ray Simon broke the news to the team Tuesday before practice, which went on as scheduled.
“It was unbelievable, the kids inspired me,” Indest said. “I was dragging a whole lot more than they were. At one point I thought about just calling it and going home. They convinced me they wanted to practice and they went out with an unbelievably positive attitude and had one of our better practices of the year.
“I expect us to come out and play with equal or more intensity in the last two games than we have all year long.”