Positive vibes at LHSAA task force meeting; some discussion about reuniting split football playoffs _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine

We’ve had a busy fall, complete with lots of football highlights and surprises. That was the small dose of medicine the LHSAA needed to distance itself from months of conflict.

But with the LHSAA’s annual convention just three months away, things are about to get interesting away from the games the student-athletes play.

The LHSAA Task Force appointed to address the organization’s private school vs. public schools issues met last week. Instead of spending time hashing out old business and previously stated ideas, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine and LHSCA Director Terence Williams handed the group something new.

Well, not entirely new. Bonine gave Williams the figurative LHSAA ball and told him to take the rural-metropolitan plan submitted by Notre Dame Athletic Director/football coach Lewis Cook and run with it. The result is a revamped plan that will be presented to the LHSAA’s executive committee via a video conference Wednesday.

“When I took this job, I talked about nothing being etched in stone and that I’m a white board kind of guy,” Bonine said. “This is what we’ve got, and we feel like it’s pretty comprehensive.

“Only about 25 percent of it mirrors the plan coach Cook brought us. Terence went really heavy data research. With that said, this is Eddie and Terence’s white board. We’re happy to discuss and make changes that are needed.”

Bonine and Williams presented a four-page handout to the Task Force that included some data and a map that fleshes out rural, metro and urbanized area in Louisiana based on census numbers, department of transportation numbers etc.

The sticking point for Bonine lies in the first three statements:

“We are not the select high school athletic association.”

“We are not the nonselect high school athletic association.”

“We are the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.”

Yes, “urbanized areas” is the new term. When Cook’s proposal was submitted, there was much talk about the larger metro areas such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and Lafayette.

Based on population size, those are the metropolitan areas. Lake Charles, Alexandria and Monroe qualify as urbanized. So do Houma-Thibodaux, Hammond and the north shore area that includes Slidell and Covington. Those urbanized areas would be considered metropolitan if the plan is approved.

Bonine expects opposition. In fact, he expects at least one proposal to split the LHSAA in all sports to be submitted by a member school for the January agenda. The key, Williams said, was to see if the nuts and bolts of the urban-metro plan had any merit.

The basic premise is that schools located in metro areas have a larger base of students to draw from than rural schools. It also, not coincidently takes the private vs. public schools issue out of the debate.

“When I started looking at the playoffs over the last 15 years, you could see it,” Williams said. “You see those rural schools getting knocked off through each round. It was the same way when I started doing the research.

“I was able to find data about where people live in relation to metro areas and how many people leave each bedroom community to work.”

Bonine and Williams declined to release any specific lists about where schools would fall. They say that will come with the presentation to the executive committee. The video then will be made available to principals.

Williams said the final numbers he came up with put 190 schools in one group and 210 in the other. Both expect opposition, and they did cite a couple of examples. Lutcher would be classified urban, but parish rival St. James will be rural. In Ascension Parish, west bank Donaldsonville is classified as rural, but east bank Dutchtown, East Ascension and St. Amant will be metro. Bonine said each school’s case will be considered individually and changes are possible.

Remember the white board?

Remember the conflict?

I’m eager to see who who is for this plan and who opposes it. Yes, the games adults play.

Red Stick Bowl XIV

Head football coaches from the Baton Rouge area are asked to nominate their top senior players for 14th annual Red Stick Bowl all-star football game Dec. 20 at Olympia Stadium.

Plaquemine head coach Paul Distefano and Central assistant Ken Hilton have been selected as the head coaches for the game that features 90 seniors from area schools. Coaches should submit nominations by Nov. 1. Nomination forms can be found at www.redstickbowl.com. Contact Barrett Murphy at (225) 266-4997 or Dennis Lorio at (225) 936-4921 for additional information.

Prep notables

Defensive lineman Sully Laiche was honored as Lutcher’s all-time sacks leader before Friday’s game with Sci Academy. Laiche had 311/2 sacks going into the game.

Brusly seeks sponsors for its annual Deep South Bayou Duals wrestling tournament set for late December.

Sponsors willing to donate money to help defray the cost of moving/renting mats are needed, along with sponsors to donate food for the coaches/officials. Contact BHS coach Jimmy Bible at (225) 270-1981.