Notre Dame of Crowley football coach Lewis Cook didn’t take offense when his team started the season ranked seventh in the Class 2A poll.
Cook surmised that since the Pioneers were longtime fixtures in Class 3A, along with St. Charles Catholic, while Ouachita Christian was a staple in 1A, voters hadn’t gotten their bearings on this year’s newfangled 2A rankings.
With each dominating victory, Notre Dame (6-0) cleared a path to the No. 1 spot which became a reality with the release of Tuesday’s Louisiana Sportswriters Association’s rankings.
The Pioneers garnered six of 10 first-place votes to overtake previous No. 1 Sterlington (5-1), which lost 21-19 to Ouachita Christian.
“It’s interesting to see the makeup of 2A now,” Cook said. “We’re all creatures of habit and teams like us, St. Charles and Ouachita Christian, which all changed classes, in the first ranking were ranked a little low. But you’re used to seeing Many and Kinder and teams like that in 2A.”
Notre Dame’s laid the groundwork for its climb to the top with an impressive stretch of three straight wins over Class 4A teams — LaGrange, Breaux Bridge and Teurlings Catholic — to open the season.
The Pioneers’ total of 103 points was better than No. 2 Many (95) and No. 3 Ouachita Christian (77) — both of which also received first-place votes.
“It’s always nice to be recognized,” Cook said. “(The polls are) something that keeps everyone’s interest up. It’s nice when you look and see your name first.”
Notre Dame represents the Acadiana area’s highest rated team with crosstown Crowley (6-0) remaining No. 3 in a Class 4A poll that also contains No. 4 St. Thomas More (5-1), No. 5 Teurlings (4-2) with Breaux Bridge receiving votes.
Ascension Catholic (6-0) continued to add to its historical season, defeating reigning District 7-1A champion Vermilion Catholic 40-39.
The victory enabled the Blue Gators to vault two spots to No. 2 in Class 1A behind top-ranked St. Mary’s (5-0), while the Eagles dropped two positions to No. 7.
Fellow District 7-1A member Central Catholic-Morgan City (6-0) was bumped up one spot to No. 6.
Another Acadia Parish team, Church Point (5-1), responded from its first loss with a 43-6 District 5-3A win over Port Barre and jumped three spots to No. 7 in Class 3A with Eunice (5-1) reappearing at No. 9.
Notre Dame’s demanding, early-season schedule has paid dividends thus far with a dominating 3-0 showing in District 5-2A.
The Pioneers, who host West St. Mary on Thursday, have led 28-0, 21-0 and 47-0 by halftime and have not played their starters in the fourth quarter.
In last week’s 61-0 win at Sacred Heart-Ville Platte, Notre Dame ran only 29 offensive plays and limited the Trojans to 23 total yards.
“The kids have done everything we’ve asked and played the teams we’ve had to play and handled it very well,” Cook said. “If that’s how it comes out it will be a nice reward for them.”