Monday, Aug. 11, 2014.
That’s when a fax was sent from John Curtis High School to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
And just like that, Division I became the high school version of the SEC. And the LHSAA playoffs all of a sudden received a much-needed breath of fresh air. (Remember all the blowouts last December?)
John Curtis had officially announced its decision to play up another classification and compete with the big boys.
Evangel Christian, Teurlings Catholic and St. Thomas More joined the mix as well on Monday, the last day for teams to declare intentions of playing up.
The Division I playoffs, which was basically just a glorified Catholic League do-over tournament last season, is now one of the most intriguing classifications in the LHSAA.
But now things are a whole lot more interesting with 12 teams that will be competing for a title.
Rabid fans were already ranting on social media Monday about the possibilities of a possible Division I championship game between Rummel and John Curtis at the Merecedes-Benz Superdome.
With both of the Metairie schools already garnering national preseason rankings, don’t expect that buzz to stop anytime between now and Dec. 5 when the title game is scheduled to be played.
But the rest of the Catholic League, along with Catholic High and St. Paul’s, will have a say-so in that as well.
What does the move mean for Division I?
Well, the obvious is that it will be much more competitive with perennial powers Curtis and Evangel Christian joining in.
Also, it likely will mean more money for the schools.
Ticket sales at a Curtis vs. (insert the name of any Catholic League school team) game will be far greater than any gate produced by Curtis against one of the overmatched opponents it has played in the playoffs in recent years.
Curtis has made it to the championship game 18 straight years and is a mind-boggling 71-0 in playoff games leading up to the title game during that stretch.
The division is now more competitive.
And so is Division II.
Division II lost four good teams with the departure of Curtis, Evangel, St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic. But it also perhaps gave teams in the division a better chance now that the Patriots are gone.
Frank Monica, head coach at St. Charles Catholic, had to feel like Christmas came early on Monday.
His school is one of the smallest in the division and competes in the district with Curtis.
His Comets will still play Curtis in the regular season, but won’t have to face Curtis again in the postseason like he did last season. (Curtis beat St. Charles by a combined score of 94-13 in the two 2013 meetings.)
“In a way, it’s a relief,” Monica said. “Not saying it will be any easier, but at least it gives you an opportunity. They (Curtis) are a storied program. They are just real physical. We just don’t match up well with them. It makes it an open field and everyone left has a chance.”
But the move may help more than just Division I and Division II. It could also be a move to help everyone.
Both coaches hope it helps resolve some of the friction caused by the split format that separates the select and nonselect schools.
“I don’t like our state being separated,” Curtis said. “Whatever we can do as long as we can do and it’s not detrimental to our school we want to do our part in putting it back together.”
Monica, who has coached for 44 years, agrees.
“I think the play-up factor is a positive step,” Monica said. “That’s what caused everything when teams stopped being allowed to play up. It caused a lot of the friction. This is going to help create less friction.”
Time will tell.
We’ll know more on Dec. 5, when Rummel or Curtis (or maybe somebody else) hoists the championship trophy.
Both of them won’t win.
But in the end, maybe everybody wins.