Football powerhouse John Curtis has done many things while winning 24 state titles over the years.
Being part of a Baton Rouge-area district is one thing the Patriots have never done. That could change, based on the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s preliminary districting plan No. 1 released Friday.
The LHSAA’s first districting plan was released two days after John Curtis, of River Ridge, and another football power, Shreveport’s Evangel Christian, opted to play up to Class 3A from their enrollment-based 2A class, a move made possible by an LHSAA bylaw change approved in January.
It shows Curtis, located in Jefferson Parish, as part of District 7-3A, which also includes Brusly, Donaldsonville, Port Allen, St. Charles Catholic of LaPlace, and E.D. White Catholic of Thibodaux.
The first districting plan is part of a two-year districting process for 2013-14 and 2014-15 that continues with meetings Nov. 27 in Winnfield and Nov. 28 at the LHSAA office in Baton Rouge. A final plan could be approved as early as Nov. 28, but a third meeting also could be called in December.
“It just baffles me,” Brusly High Principal Walt Lemoine said. “I’ve tried to look at this rationally and take the name John Curtis out of the thought process.
“When I drove down to the state volleyball tournament (in Kenner) last night, I was thinking about the logistics of sending a volleyball team there. Now you’d be talking about making that travel for every sport, not just football. If there wasn’t another alternative, I’d understand. But there are two other districts with New Orleans teams.”
Lemoine said he started receiving calls from coaches and administrators from across the state not long after the plan was released.
Curtis football coach/athletic director J.T. Curtis said he scanned the districting plan briefly before starting preparations for his team’s Class 2A playoff game with Pope John Paul II on Friday night.
“I did look at (the districting plan) briefly, because we have been busy today,” Curtis said. “I know the association has guidelines they follow when they set up the districts.
“Obviously, (the plan) is something different. I know they (LHSAA) take geography and demographics into consideration. To me, it is what it is right now.”
The LHSAA’s districting plan included a few other sweeping changes for Baton Rouge teams. The revival of New Orleans’ Catholic League in 5A was the biggest story for New Orleans.
In Class 5A, Baton Rouge’s two districts were divided by parishes. All East Baton Rouge Parish teams are in 4-5A, while the six teams from Ascension and Livingston parishes are in 5-5A.
Broadmoor moves from Class 4A into 4-5A with Catholic, Central, McKinley, Scotlandville, Woodlawn and Zachary, along with two nonfootball schools, Baton Rouge High and all-girls St. Joseph’s Academy.
District 5-5A will consist of Denham Springs, Dutchtown, East Ascension, Live Oak, St. Amant and Walker.
Three New Orleans parochial schools — Archbishop Shaw, Holy Cross and St. Augustine — all opted to play up to 5A from 4A. Those schools requested placement with Archbishop Rummel, Brother Martin and Jesuit to re-form the Catholic League. The LHSAA granted that request with its 9-5A, which also includes all-girls Archbishop Chappelle, Dominican and Mount Carmel.
The loss of Broadmoor, moving up to 5A, and Istrouma, dropping to 2A, leaves five teams in Baton Rouge’s 6-4A – Belaire, Lutcher, Plaquemine, St. Michael and Tara.
University High and Livonia move into the Baton Rouge area’s 6-3A with Baker, Glen Oaks, Parkview Baptist and West Feliciana.
Istrouma and East Feliciana drop into Baton Rouge’s 6-2A to join Capitol, Dunham, Episcopal, Northeast, Redemptorist, which opted to play up, and nonfootball Runnels.
First-year football school Madison Prep is listed in 6-1A with Christian Life, Kentwood, Southern Lab and Varnado.
The River Parishes’ Destrehan, East St. John and Hahnville move from the New Orleans league back to a bayou-area league in the LHSAA plan, joining H.L. Bourgeois, Central Lafourche, South Lafourche, Terrebonne and Thibodaux.
Most New Orleans 4A teams find themselves in 9-4A, including East Jefferson, Warren Easton, Edna Karr, McDonogh 35, Riverdale and O.P. Walker.