Dates to know

Scrimmages Aug. 19-24; Jamborees Aug. 29-31; Week 1 Sept.5-7; Week 10 Nov. 7-9; Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic Dec. 13-14 for nonselect schools; select schools title games TBA

They’re defending champions

Zachary – Class 5A

University – Division II

The runners-up

Division I – Catholic High

Division IV – Ascension Catholic

Trending: Zachary has won two Class 5A titles in a row and three of the past four. University has won two straight Division II titles in a row and has made four appearances in the past six years with three titles. Catholic has won two Division I titles in the past four years.

Other defending champions

Nonselect

Class 4A: Edna Karr

Class 3A: Eunice

Class 2A: Amite

Class 1A: Kentwood

Select

Division I: John Curtis

Division III: Notre Dame

Division IV: Lafayette Christian

Coaches leaderboard

Sid Edwards, Central: 161-66

Benny Saia, Ascension Catholic: 154-104

Travis Bourgeois, Episcopal: 130-80

Guy Mistretta, Dutchtown, 128-55

David Brewerton, Zachary, 118-38

David Masterson, Northeast: 114-123

Chad Mahaffey, Walker, 106-20

Neil Weiner, Dunham: 103-54

Robert Valdez, St. James: 97-46

Coaching changes

Class 5A-4A

District 4-5A — Lester Ricard, Scotlandville (last job: Walker); Chad Mahaffey, Walker (last job: University)

District 5-5A — Richard Oliver, McKinley (last head job locally at Baker); Marcus Randall, Woodlawn (last job: The Church Academy)

District 7-4A — Cyril Crutchfield, Broadmoor (last job: West Jefferson)

Class 3A and below

District 7-3A — Sean Beauchamp, Glen Oaks (last job: assistant McKinley); Stefan LeFors, Parkview Baptist (last job: Christian Academy, Louisville, Ky.); Andy Martin, University (last job: assistant at U-High).

District 6-1A — Jacob Goudeau, Slaughter Community Charter (last job: assistant SCC)

District 7-1A — Benny Saia, Ascension Catholic (last job: Dutchtown).

LHSAA varsity debuts

Istrouma, head coach Jeremy Gradney – District 7-4A

Collegiate Baton Rouge, head coach Kinte Hill – District 7-3A (not playing for district honors)

Central Private, head coach Robbie Mahfouz – District 6-1A

Thrive Academy, head coach Brian Glover – District 6-1A

Changing classes

Belaire: moves from Class 5A to 4A

Broadmoor: from Class 5A to 4A

Woodlawn: moves from Class 4A to 5A

Lutcher: from Class 4A to 3A

Marquee matchups

East Ascension at Zachary, Sept. 6: Defending champion Zachary plays 2018 quarterfinalist East Ascension as coaches David Brewerton of Zachary and Darnell Lee of East Ascension meet again. The coaches previously squared off in the 3A ranks when Brewerton was at Livonia and Lee coached at Northwest.

Scotlandville vs. McKinley at Memorial Stadium, Sept. 6: This rivalry has emerged over the past decade after both schools moved into the 5A/4A ranks. Both new coaches making their debut too.

Parkview Baptist at University, Oct. 3: There was a two-year hiatus when PBS moved to 4A for two years. Now they are back in District 7-3A together with two new head coaches at the helm. These teams have met in the regular season, playoffs and a title game.

Catholic at St. Thomas More in Lafayette, Oct. 4: This game grew out the relationship between former Catholic coach Dale Weiner, who coached under STM’s Jim Hightower at Catholic-PC in the 1970s. Both were select runners-up in 2018.

Southern Lab at Scotlandville, Oct 4: The fact  Scotlandville is 5A and Southern Lab plays in 1A is not a factor here. It’s the battle of two neighborhood rivals located a few miles apart, each featuring plenty of talent.

Denham Springs at Central, Oct. 11: These two District 4-5A rivals will meet for the 72nd time, easily the BR area’s longest running series. Some can trace their family tree on both sides of this rivalry.

Lutcher at St. James, Oct. 11: One of the oldest and most intense rivalries in the river parishes and it is once again a district game, District 9-3A. Lutcher drops down after two years in 4A may have something to prove, not that it matters in a game like this.

Episcopal at Dunham, Oct. 18: This game has decided the district title in recent years it could happen again in 8-2A this year. Each coach has over 100 career wins.

St. Amant vs. Catholic at Olympia Stadium, Oct. 25: This is a classic public school/private school rivalry started in the late 1980s. Two enthusiastic fan bases are always in the mix.

East Feliciana at Northeast, Nov. 8: Two District 8-2A rivals located on the border of East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana Parish. The tailgating starts before school ends. This rivalry goes back to when the schools were Clinton and Pride high schools.

St. Amant at East Ascension, Nov. 8: One of the most intense community school rivalries in the state. Plenty of pre-game things to do also, including the annual “Shout Out” for fans.

Leaders of player pack

Top lineman

DT Jaquelin Roy, University High: LSU commitment ranked No. 1 in Louisiana in 247sports, fifth DT in nation at position.

Top skill player

QB Keilon Brown, Zachary: Memphis commitment ranked No. 21 in Louisiana by 247 and the 19th dual threat QB in nation.

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com