Now that the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s football playoffs are just a couple of weeks away, football coaches are more concerned with power ratings than statewide rankings.

That doesn’t mean that this week’s Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s rankings won’t be used as a motivational tool.

“We’re ranked ninth (in Class 1A), and we’re OK with that,” West St. John High coach Robert Valdez said. “We’ve played a tough schedule that has included 5A and 4A teams. Our focus now is to win out and win the district title.

“I’m sure there are people who think we could be ranked higher. I also know you could make a case for other teams from down south, like Kentwood, St. John and Christian Life in the top 10, too.

“The other teams ranked higher are also deserving. The coaches will tell you it will all work out itself out once the playoffs start.”

Valdez’s West St. John squad (6-2, 3-0) hosts St. John (6-2, 3-0) for a game to decide the District 9-1A title on Thursday night.

Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said the power rankings are pivotal now because they are based on how teams have played. The mathematical power ratings formula calculated by the LHSAA ultimately determines where a team will be placed on the playoff brackets in each of the five football classes.

“Finding out where your team will be on that bracket is the most important thing now,” Detillier said. “What the sportswriters poll does is provide positive publicity for any program that’s ranked. You can never downplay the importance of that.

“Of course, they (rankings) can be used to motivate a team. That does happen.”

This week’s LSWA polls feature one major change. Monroe-based Neville (8-0) takes over as the No. 1 team in Class 4A, following St. Thomas More’s 28-14 loss to District 5-4A rival Breaux Bridge.

Assumption (8-0) moves up No. 2, while Breaux Bridge (7-1) makes the leap from No. 6 to No. 3. BBHS was rated second before losing to Teurlings Catholic (5-3) another 5-4A team, two weeks ago. Lutcher (7-1) remains fourth in the lone team in the 4A top 10. STM (7-1) fell to fifth, while Teurlings is sixth.

Lutcher and Assumption square off this week, providing a nondistrict mega-match-up.

“There’s no question that the Lafayette district (5-4A) is the strongest in the state,” Detillier said. “This game (with Assumption) is a challenge we welcome. I think it comes at the right time for both of us.”

Dutchtown (8-0) continues to be ranked second in Class 5A and is the lone area team in the 5A top 10. St. Paul’s-Covington (8-0) retains the No. 1 ranking. Shreveport-based C.E. Byrd (7-0) moves up to third. Carencro (7-1), the previous No. 3, drops to eighth after its loss to No. 7 Acadiana last week.

St. Charles Catholic (8-0) in 3A, John Curtis (7-0) in 2A and Ouachita Christian (8-0) in 1A continue to be the other No. 1 teams in the LSWA polls voted on by a panel of sportswriters from across the state.

University High (8-0), rated third in Class 2A, has the next highest local rating to Dutchtown. Episcopal (7-1) moves up one spot to No. 5 this week in 2A.

Livonia (7-1) moved up two spots back to No. 5 in Class 3A. It’s a ranking LHS coach David Brewerton plans to use for motivation as the Wildcats prepare to meet Church Point (7-1) in District 5-3A action Friday.

“We’ve been building this program for five years and to get to this point is a compliment for us,” Brewerton said. “A couple of weeks ago we were No. 5 and lost to Eunice. Very seldom do you get a second chance in a situation like this.

“We’re challenging our guys make the most of this. Church Point is probably using the fact that they’re not ranked as motivation. That’s what we (coaches) do.”

Parkview Baptist (5-3) moved up a spot to No. 9 in 3A. Three Tangipahoa teams are still ranked in the 3A top 10, led by No. 3 Amite (7-1). Loranger (8-0) is fourth, while Independence (5-3) is ranked 10th.

Class 5A

1. St. Paul’s (11) 8-0 143 1

2. Dutchtown (1) 8-0 126 2

3. Byrd 7-0 120 4

4. Jesuit 8-0 107 5

5. Rummel 8-0 87 7

6. West Monroe 6-2 83 6

7. Acadiana 6-2 71 8

8. Carencro 7-1 65 3

9. Ouachita 6-2 50 9

10. Brother Martin 6-2 23 10

Others receiving votes: West Jefferson 22, East St. John 12, Barbe 10, Mandeville 4, Natchitoches Central 3.

Class 4A

1. Neville (11) 8-0 142 2

2. Assumption 8-0 123 3

3. Breaux Bridge (1) 7-1 113 6

4. Lutcher 7-1 111 4

5. St. Thomas More 7-1 103 1

6. Teurlings 5-3 90 5

7. Karr 5-3 74 7

8. McDonogh 35 5-3 52 10

9. St. Augustine 5-3 50 9

10. O.P. Walker 4-2 38 NR

Others receiving points: Belle Chasse 16, Bastrop 12, South Terrebonne 8, Plaquemine 5.

Class 3A

1. St. Charles (12) 8-0 144 1

2. Patterson 7-0 131 2

3. Amite 7-1 117 3

4. Loranger 8-0 110 4

5. Livonia 7-1 85 7

6. Notre Dame 5-3 75 8

7. Eunice 7-1 72 9

8. Richwood 6-2 47 5

9. Parkview Bapt. 5-3 44 10

10. Independence 5-3 33 6

Others receiving votes: Farmerville 27, Avoyelles 19, Bossier 8, Marksville 1.

Class 2A

1. John Curtis (12) 7-0 144 1

2. Winnfield 8-0 132 2

3. University Lab 8-0 120 3

4. Catholic-N.I. 7-1 101 4

5. Episcopal 7-1 90 6

6. Loreauville 6-2 81 4

7. Calvary Bapt. 6-2 67 9

8. Menard 7-1 65 8

9. Kinder 7-1 45 10

10. Pope John Paul II 6-2 30 NR

Others receiving votes: Evangel Christian 25, Riverside 18, Many 7, Welsh 5, Lake Arthur 2.

Class 1A

1. Ouachita Christ. (12) 8-0 144 1

2. Haynesville 7-1 130 2

3. Vermilion Cath. 8-0 119 4

4. Mangham 8-0 99 7

5. Cent. Cath.-M.C. 7-1 87 6

6. Cedar Creek 7-1 73 8

7, St. Mary’s 6-2 66 3

8. Elton 7-1 60 5

9. West St. John 6-2 44 9

10. Westminster 6-2 37 10

Others receiving votes: Kentwood 25, St. Martin’s 16, St. John 12, Block 5, Oberlin 4, Christian Life 1, Oak Grove 1.