NEW ORLEANS — It wasn’t the kind of weekend I’m used to. But it was still a championship weekend to remember.
Baton Rouge has had its share of football success at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Prep Classic. With no team from East Baton Rouge Parish in the title-game mix, there was time to watch and ponder some interesting facts.
The last time a Prep Classic didn’t have at least one team from the Baton Rouge metro area in it was 1997. Pretty amazing when you think about it.
And even in those years when the metro contingent was on the lean side, there have always been teams from nearby locales involved.
For example, this time around both West St. John (District 9-1A) and St. Charles Catholic (7-3A) are part of Baton Rouge-based districts. Class 3A Amite High (District 8-3A) is from neighboring Tangipahoa Parish. Carencro, Class of 5A, represented the Acadiana contingent in 2011.
The string of BR metro finals appearances started in 1998, when St. John-Plaquemine finished as the Class 1A runner-up to another one of those nearby schools, Kentwood. The following year, Capitol was the 4A runner-up to John Curtis.
In 2000, Baton Rouge’s golden era in Class 3A began with Redemptorist finishing as a state runner-up.
The following year, Parkview Baptist won the first of its three 3A state titles, beating Belle Chasse in the 3A title game. In 2002, Redemptorist notched its first 3A title with a win over Patterson.
The Wolves, then coached by Sid Edwards, went on to beat traditional power John Curtis to win a 4A title in 2003. In 2005, the Wolves of Guy Mistretta added another 3A crown. In between, The Dunham School, coached by Joey Thibodeaux, won a 1A crown in 2004.
Parkview won the first of its two 3A titles in four years in 2007, adding another in 2010.
The Eagles of coach Kenny Guillot also had a runner-up finish in 2009. Others, like St. John in 2006 (1A), St. Helena Central in 2004 (2A) and Baker in 2001 (4A) also posted runner-up finishes.
That legacy of teams located near Baton Rouge is long. It includes the likes of Lutcher, St. James, Independence, Kentwood and Amite all making appearances and often winning titles. A list of Acadiana teams would include Acadiana, last year’s 5A champion and a 5A champion in 2006.
Though no Baton Rouge team played for a title this year, it is important to acknowledge the accomplishments made. During any given season, winning can be mean everything, but it’s not the only thing.
A district title, a playoff win and a key win over a rival can all be meaningful. An undefeated season or even a winning season that follows a losing one are also special.
When a streak like this one ends there’s only one thing left to do — start another.
That’s the challenge for 2012. And for high school teams across Louisiana, including those in Baton Rouge, dreams of winning a state title in 2012 are already starting to take shape.