The frying pan or the fire.
Those were the options facing Belle Chasse’s football team as the LHSAA prepared to finalize the Class 4A state playoff pairings Sunday morning.
The Cardinals chose the devil they did not know.
Which explains how Belle Chasse (6-4) came to be paired against Plaquemine (8-2) in Friday’s opening round.
Belle Chasse initially was projected as a No. 29 seed by unofficial LHSAA power ratings and scheduled to play its 9-4A rival, fourth-seeded Warren Easton. But that was before BC officials contacted the LHSAA to point out what they believed was an oversight and error in the association’s methodology for calculating power ratings.
Belle Chasse and Carencro were awarded identical 10.31 ratings based on a system of rounding decimal places to the one-hundredth. Using strength of schedule as a tiebreaker, Carencro seeded No. 28 and Belle Chasse 29.
The actual power ratings though read 10.311 in favor of Belle Chasse and 10.309 for Carencro — numbers that put the Cardinals at No. 28 and Carencro at No. 29.
The case — made by BC principal Jemi Carlone and athletic director Wesley Mire in emails to LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine and Louisiana High School Coaches Association president Terence Williams — was that there was no written rule dictating rounding decimals to the one-hundredth.
After initially rebuffing the Cardinals’ appeal, Bonine and Williams reviewed the LHSAA rule book and agreed with Belle Chasse’s case, coach Stephen Meyers said.
The Cardinals then were switched to the correct seed of No. 28 and scheduled to make a road trip to Plaquemine while the Bears were moved down one place and matched against Easton at 7 p.m. Friday at Pan American.
The LHSAA also plans to take a closer look at the issue at the association’s annual winter meetings in January, Meyers said.
Without the reversal, Belle Chasse would have faced mighty Easton, a team ranked No. 1 in Class 4A for several weeks this season, for a fifth time in three years, counting a 56-14 loss in the 2015 playoffs when the Cardinals were a No. 28 seed and the Eagles a No. 5.
Easton defeated Belle Chasse 36-7 in District 9-4A play.
“We would have played them, but we weren’t that seed,’’ Meyers said. “We didn’t want to play them for the fifth time in three years especially when we had a higher power rating. Why play them again?’’
Plaquemine appears to be no bargain, either. The Green Devils finished as District 6-4A runner-up behind Parkview Baptist and have won three straight since dropping a 39-27 decision to Parkview.
“Plaquemine is a really, really good team,’’ Meyers said. “They’re athletic and very big. It’s going to be tough either way. But it’s a different team. It’s a different atmosphere. I don’t mind going on the road for the playoffs because the atmosphere is different.’’
The Cardinals actually could have avoided their 11th-hour stress if not for a 20-19 loss to Helen Cox in their District 9-4A season finale on Friday.
In that game, Belle Chasse scored a go-ahead touchdown with approximately one minute, 40 seconds remaining, but the PAT kick was blocked, allowing Cox to drive for a winning touchdown and PAT with 25 seconds remaining. Cox then advanced to the playoffs as a No. 22 seed.
“We made the mistakes and they didn’t,’’ Meyers said. “We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves.’’
Groundbreaking event for Shaw
Shaw announced construction plans for a 4,000-seat, multi-sport stadium on its Marrero campus with a ground-breaking event last Wednesday.
The project, 12 years in the making, is scheduled for a 2019 opening with seating for 2,500 on the home side.
Shaw is set to become the first Catholic League school with its own football stadium, guaranteeing the Eagles a full slate of Friday night home games.
“The whole community is happy,’’ Shaw football coach Tommy Connors said. “Shaw’s taken a lot of pride in pushing forward with this. We’re doing things the right way. (Academic) scores are going up. Athletics are getting invested. It’s really a huge step.’’
A hybrid turf, featuring a combination of natural grass and Field Turf, is planned as a playing surface.
In addition to football, the field will be available for soccer and rugby matches, as well and available to outside organizations.
No wins this season
While four area teams (De La Salle, Covington, Lakeshore and Newman) went undefeated this season, there were also four teams that went winless. Shaw, Bonnabel, Haynes Academy and Ridgewood were unable to get a W this season. Of that foursome, only Shaw still has a chance. The Eagles qualified for the Division I playoffs and will play Catholic High on Friday in Baton Rouge.
- Rod Walker, Mike Strom