University High spent the entire 2013 season trying to catch John Curtis on the football field, eventually losing the Patriots in the Division II state championship game.
For the first five weeks of this season, the Cubs have been in the Patriots’ rear-view mirror in the statewide Class 3A rankings until Tuesday.
University garnered seven of 12 first-place votes with Curtis receiving five as the Cubs (5-0) went on to out-point the Patriots 139-133 for the No. 1 ranking by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.
The opening atop the 3A poll was created when Curtis (4-1) was defeated for the first time by Class 5A’s St. Augustine 15-13.
“Any recognition in the polls is nice,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said. “Personally, it’s kind of hard not to have Curtis ranked No. 1 until somebody in their class beats them. We appreciate it, and hopefully the kids will look to be worthy of that and not rest of their laurels. This group has worked pretty hard.”
U-High represents one of two changes in the LSWA rankings involving top-ranked teams with Mangham (5-0) taking over for Class 1A’s top spot after Haynesville (4-1) lost 27-7 to Class 4A Franklin Parish.
U-High’s residency at No. 1 will be immediately put to the test Thursday at home against No. 6 Parkview Baptist (4-1) in a matchup of undefeated District 7-3A powers.
For the third straight week, Catholic High (4-1) remained No. 5 in the Class 5A polls with a 42-14 road win over Salmen. Zachary and Woodlawn each received points.
Nothing’s been easy for Plaquemine (5-0) since rising to fifth in Class 4A following a 49-47 road win over Jennings before getting pushed to overtime last week in a 27-20 home win over Southern Lab.
Class 2A’s seventh-ranked Episcopal (4-0) showed no ill effects from an open date with a 19-0 shutout of previously undefeated Ascension Catholic in Donaldsonville. District 6-2A foe Northeast received points after a 12-7 win over The Dunham School to remain unbeaten.
White Castle (4-1) and East Beauregard (5-0) flip-flopped spots in the Class 1A poll with the Bulldogs ranked No. 10 despite a 44-26 win over Class 3A Iowa but received one less vote than the No. 9 Trojans.
Madison Prep (4-1), Southern Lab (1-4) and Ascension Catholic (4-1) all received consideration.
The No. 1 ranking shouldn’t add any external weight to a U-High team that’s been accustomed to dealing with high expectations and regularly getting the best efforts of their opponents.
After two wins over Teurlings Catholic a year ago, U-High found itself rallying from a pair of two-touchdown deficits without starting quarterback Manny Miles to a 36-35 road victory.
The Cubs overcame Southern Lab 19-6 in a similarly tense duel without All-State linebacker Dylan Moses and needed a second-half comeback for a 27-26 win at LaGrange.
“Each time you’ve seen different kids step up, and that’s what you find in those tough games,” Mahaffey said. “Things aren’t going to come easily and it usually takes a kid or two to get that momentum going your way and we’ve had different guys do that in different games.”