Under a normal playoff system, the St. Augustine football players would have been putting away their helmets and shoulder pads for the final time Saturday afternoon.
Their coach, Al Jones, would have been scratching his head, trying to figure out just what went wrong in his first season in charge of the Purple Knights.
Saturday would have been the disappointing end to a 2-8 season that ended with a five-game losing streak.
But as you know by now, the LHSAA’s current playoff system is anything but normal.
So instead of walking off the field one last time, the Purple Knights get another chance.
Their names will pop up on the television screen Sunday when the LHSAA announces the playoff pairings at 10:30 a.m.
They will be the No. 10 seed, dead last, in the watered down 10-team Division I bracket.
Normally, an opposing coach’s eyes would light up with the thought of playing a team that hasn’t won a game since early October.
That won’t be the case for whoever draws the St. Aug straw (likely Holy Cross) in the first round.
“I don’t like saying things like we are the best 2-8 team in the state, but we had some games where we just didn’t get over the hump,” Jones said.
Ok, I’ll say it for you coach.
St. Aug is the best (or at least most dangerous) 2-8 team in the state, although they may not have quite looked like it in Saturday’s 30-12 loss to Rummel.
This loss was by double digits, unlike five of their other losses that were by seven points or less.
“We have a good team,” Jones said. “We have always been one play away from winning a game. A penalty here, a dropped pass here. We just haven’t got it together. I’m just hoping that the fact that we have a longer season, an extended season, will help us get over the hump.”
And the hump isn’t very big.
Want an idea of just how watered down the playoff format is?
Well, St. Aug has won just two games this season.
If they can match that total and win just two more, they will be making the short trip from A.P. Tureaud Avenue to the Mercedes Benz Superdome.
If they get really hot and win three straight, they’ll be state champions.
And despite their record, they could possibly do it.
They have shown glimpses of championship-type ability this season, most notably in a stunning upset over Brother Martin and a one-touchdown game against John Curtis.
Rummel saw a glimpse of it early Saturday when the Purple Knights took a 6-0 lead just two minutes into the game.
“They woke our guys up,” Rummel coach Jay Roth said. “They came in and stood toe to toe and punched us right in the jaw. We responded.”
Rummel responded in a big way, outscoring St. Aug 30-6 the rest of the way in a downpour.
It marked the second straight year Rummel went through Catholic League play with a perfect record.
But Rummel and St. Aug both know that going through the Catholic League undefeated doesn’t mean a thing.
Two years ago, Leonard Fournette led St. Aug to the district title but the Purple Knights fell in the semifinals to Rummel.
Last year, Rummel went through District 9-5A play undefeated before losing to Jesuit in the semifinals.
Now, Rummel will try to end the Catholic League Champion jinx and go all the way.
St. Aug will be one of the eight other teams looking to stop them.
Jones admits that the playoff format could be better.
“Right now, today, it’s good for us,” he said. “Hopefully we can take advantage of that. We don’t practice like a 2-8 team. We don’t act like a 2-8 team. We act like we are 8-2. We know that some things were in our reach that we just didn’t grab. I’m thankful we get another chance.”
Opposing teams probably aren’t.