Anticipation for the release of the LHSAA’s second classification plan for 2022-24 has been building for a week. It started as soon as the second classification meeting ended.
Some changes were expected. From a Baton Rouge area perspective, I would say Christmas came a few weeks early for some schools. Others are probably trying to figure out what happened.
Up next is the third classification meeting held in conjunction with the LHSAA’s winter executive committee meeting Dec. 1. Additional tweaks can be made and the final plan will be approved.
The biggest local change is in Class 5A. Schools in Ascension and Livingston Parishes got their wish — a six-team district that includes just their schools.
That leaves all the East Baton Rouge schools, including current football top seeds Catholic High and Zachary, in a district together, along with Scotlandville, Woodlawn, Central and 5A newcomer Liberty.
The request for the Livingston-Ascension district may have caught some by surprise. However, the idea behind it is not new.
The framework for this plan was set when Dutchtown was a new school joining the 5A ranks in the early 2000s and Livingston-based Live Oak moved up to 5A from 4A. A similar plan was rejected at least once in a previous classification cycle.
At the time, the argument to reject the move was that Ascension and Livingston schools had to drive past Baton Rouge schools to play each other. But times and schools of thought do change.
Of course, the change to the local 5A power structure cannot be overlooked. Unless they choose to, the Livingston and Ascension schools will no longer have to play Catholic and Zachary. Or Scotlandville and Woodlawn for that matter.
I’ve heard the arguments about “like-minded schools” playing each other. The competition figures to be more likable, too. On the flip side, the new 4-5A with Catholic, Zachary, etc. should be one of the most influential in the state in multiple sports.
In Class 4A, Brusly and Plaquemine lobbied to be put in the new Baton Rouge-based 6-4A that will be bursting at the seams with nine teams. The plus side? Eight district football games mean fewer headaches scheduling nondistrict games.
When I look at Class 3A, I see one logistical issue — Livingston-based Doyle being placed in Baton Rouge’s 6-3A instead of the new 7-3A that includes another Livingston school in Albany and Hammond/Northshore area schools.
The Class 2A move to put French Settlement with the Hammond area district makes sense. The idea of Baker, once a Class 5A school, now in Class 2A enrollment-wise is a change no one would have predicted 25 years ago. But the move should benefit the Buffaloes.
When it comes to Class 1A … I have questions. And I understand there are no easy answers. Catholic-PC was moved back to the Acadiana area district it has competed in for years. That leaves 10 teams.
The decision was made to move Thrive Academy to a new six-team 7-1A district that includes Ascension Catholic, White Castle and others.
Meanwhile, Kentwood joins Southern Lab, Slaughter Community Charter and Central Private for a four-team district. Football-wise, that means just three district games and possible open dates that cannot be filled.
So what comes next? We will find out Dec. 1. And remember, things can change again in two years.