Executive Director Eddie Bonine got to see the LHSAA’s classfication/districting system up close and personal Wednesday.
Though there was one notable heated exchange and a few other cases where schools unsuccessfully lobbied for changes, Bonine chalked the process up as a win. The LHSAA executive committee completed its 2015-17 process by approving districts in all seven classes while making just one change.
“Actually, I thought it was fine,” Bonine said. “I like the fact that schools get to come in and state their case. Out of 389 schools to have maybe four or five issues to address is pretty incredible.”
The third classification meeting started with a few appeals delayed from the second meeting because an ice storm prevented many committee members from attending.
Christian Life Academy’s appeal to be classified in Class 1A and instead of 2A was denied.
CLA Principal Peter Barnes cited a clerical error in reporting of the school’s enrollment figures last fall to the state Department of Education. The Crusaders wound up being the smallest 2A school when the numbers were released.
Barnes said CLA has been a 1A school for the past 18 years. Ultimately, the Crusaders remain in 2A and are part of the new 7-2A.
The only change approved Wednesday came in Class 2A where the committee approved splitting the nine-team 9-2A into separate districts for sports other than football. The proposal was made by Doyle Principal Tommy Hodges, an executive committee member whose school is part of the north shore league.
Doyle, French Settlement, St. Helena Central, Springfield and St. Helena Central will be one half new districts. Archbishop Hannan, Northlake Christian, Pine and Pope John Paul II would make up the other.
Ascension Christian’s second request to move from a Baton Rouge district to New Orleans-based 8-1A. So was Donaldsonville’s request to move from Baton Rouge’s District 6-3A to a league that includes St. Mary Parish schools.
Ecole Classique’s David Federico spoke on behalf of Ascension Christian’s proposed move. ACH remains in the new District 6-1A but was told not playing for district honors in football would be an option.
“It’s just not a good deal for us,” Donaldsonville football coach Benny Guilbeaux said. “I live in Baton Rouge and drive the route every day. You never know about delays. If it was just for football you could kind of deal with it. This could hurt us financially. Time will tell.”
The most heated exchanges revolved around the placement of Thibodaux-based E.D. White in a seven-team District 8-3A that includes schools as far-reaching as Kaplan and North Vermilion. Opelousas Catholic also sought a 2A realignment that would have put Notre Dame in a southwest district away from Lafayette.
“We’re good, it’s whatever,” Kaplan’s Stephen Lotief said after being allowed to voice his displeasure to the committee after an emotional outburst involving the 8-3A situation.
“There are 25 other schools between us and them (E.D. White) that we could be placed in a district with. You’re talking about 200-mile trips. We’ll be making the trip once in all sports. (E.D. White) will have to make it a lot more than that.”
Caddo Magnet, Northwood-Shreveport and Booker T. Washington were approved to play up to volleyball Division I. East Jefferson was approved to move up to Division I in volleyball, while Port Allen was approved to move up to Division III in volleyball.
Holy Cross’s request to play up to Division I for wrestling and tennis also was approved.
“My gut reaction is people care about their schools,” LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee said. “They want to do what’s best for their schools. That’s why we give people one month to come and voice their opinions. I think it’s a very good process.
“I think it’s important to understand there were zero appeals in 5A, zero appeals in 4A and zero in B-C. I understand people get emotional. But I also expect them to maintain their professionalism.”