St. Michael the Archangel coach Paul Varnado said his team felt good about its chances for a successful season during the summer. Success is one thing, but the precedent-setting season like the Warriors are having is truly something else.
Friday’s win over Belaire gave St. Michael the first 9-1 season in school history. Then the Warriors got No. 2 among Division II select teams when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association released its football playoff pairings on Sunday. A total of 10 select BR schools made the playoffs.
“I think we felt all along that this group had the chance to be a good team,” Varnado said. “Each week it’s been great to watch their (St. Michael players’) confidence grow.
“We missed out on one goal, a (6-4A) district championship, when we lost to Plaquemine a couple of weeks ago. There’s still another one out there for us … getting that first playoff win.”
But the Warriors won’t get a crack at claiming the first playoff win in school history for another week. As a No. 2 seed, St. Michael gets a bidistrict-round bye this week. SMHS also shares the Division II select spotlight with another local team, top-seeded University High (10-0), and could look to a showdown with another local team.
Like St. Michael, the Cubs of 7-3A also garner a bidistrict bye. U-High faces the winner of the St. Louis Catholic-Thomas Jefferson game in the regional round. St. Michael hosts the winner of Parkview Baptist-Lusher Charter. Parkview (6-3), a traditional 3A power has won four state titles.
“We’ll have to wait and see, but if it’s Parkview, that would be something,” Varnado noted.
Fourth-seeded Catholic High of Division I also grabbed a bidistrict-round bye. The Bears moved up a spot in the final power rankings to take the final bye in the Division I bracket that has top-seeded John Curtis (8-1). Catholic meets the Brother Martin-Archbishop Shaw winner in the regional round.
Episcopal (7-2) leads the list of Baton Rouge teams in Division III at No. 8. The Knights host No. 9 Northlake Christian (8-2).
Southern Lab (5-5) tops the list of locals in Division IV with a No. 5 seed. The Kittens, who are coming off a 20-6 win over rival Kentwood on Friday, face another notable foe in St. Frederick (7-3). Last season, Monroe-based St. Frederick beat SLHS in the Division IV semifinals.
The select playoff picture involves more than just the higher seeded teams. In Division IV, Ascension Catholic (8-2) hosts Madison Prep (6-4) in an all-local contest. ACHS of District 8-1A is enjoying its best season in a decade with long-time St. Amant High coach Doug Moreau at the helm.
Madison Prep of District 6-1A is in just its second varsity season and was seeded No. 1 in the power ratings around midseason.
Redemptorist (1-8) of Division III won just one varsity game, but it was a big one. The Wolves ousted Northeast in their season finale on Friday. As a result, RHS moved up to the No. 12 seed and travels to New Orleans to take on No. 5 Newman (9-1).
“We’ve got a young group and I thought we played extremely hard the final five games of the season,” Redemptorist coach Terence Williams said. “We just weren’t able to finish until Friday.
“Playing a traditional power like Newman is a challenge. One of the first things I’ll remind our guys is that the Mannings (Peyton and Eli) and Odell Beckham Jr. (all Newman alums) won’t be there.”