A lot goes into any high school football season. After 10 regular-season weeks packed with joy, heartache and pressure, one key question remains.
What will high school football in Baton Rouge be remembered for in 2019? District titles have been won and some gaudy numbers have been put up by some teams and top players.
However, most legacies are built on playoffs and championships. The road to postseason glory begins Sunday when the LHSAA releases its playoff pairings in its five nonselect classes and four select divisions.
The 90-minute “LHSAA Prep Pairings Show” will be broadcast live on CST. The show also will live-streamed on the LHSAA app starting at 11 a.m.
We have had surprises. Central, for example, was picked to finish last in District 4-5A and heads into the playoffs at 8-2. Madison Prep (9-1) proved last year’s run to the Class 3A quarterfinals was no fluke by winning a District 7-3A title and has won nine in a row.
What about the “name brands” who have dominated the headlines and opponents of late?
Zachary has won the past two Class 5A titles and has three titles in four years. Is there enough horsepower under the hood for the Broncos (7-2) to win it all again with 18 new starters?
This ZHS team does have a flair for the dramatic, which can be a double-edged sword. Being battle-tested often serves the Broncos well.
Then there is second-ranked Catholic High (10-0) of select Division I. The Bears have been listed in a couple of national polls and have throttled virtually every opponent. It will be interesting to see what happens when Catholic gets locked into a close one for 48 minutes.
Of the area’s top teams, Ascension Catholic of select Division IV seems to fly under the radar, despite playing in two straight title games. The Bulldogs (9-0) will likely drop out of the power ratings top spot. Right now it is easy to cast others, including Calvary Baptist and Ouachita Christian, in the favorite’s role. So just, maybe ACHS and its large group of new starters is where it needs to be too.
Most of us love pulling for an underdog and the good news is that Baton Rouge has its share. Istrouma (4-6) will enter the Class 4A playoffs in its first varsity season since 2012 as a No. 32 seed destined to play a top seed. The Indians are in because they tied for the District 7-4A title by winning four of their last five games.
Mentorship Academy also makes its first playoff appearance in Class 3A. The Sharks only had one varsity win before this year. The Dunham School and Episcopal in Division III, along with Catholic-PC in Division IV are underdogs in different ways. Dunham and Episcopal are in division stacked with Lafayette Christian, Notre Dame, Newman and St. Charles. CHSPC doesn't have recognition other in Division IV
Do not forget the teams with unfinished business. Like East Ascension of 5-5A. The Spartans (8-2) made it to the quarterfinals last year. Count Walker (7-3) and Scotlandville of 4-5A in this group too, along with University High (7-3) of 7-3A and Southern Lab (6-3) of 6-1A.
Yes, U-High won the past two Division II select titles and Southern Lab of Division IV also has that championship pedigree. This is U-High’s first year since coach Chad Mahaffey left for Walker. That loss to Madison Prep may have taken some pressure off a UHS team and first-year coach Andy Martin.
Of course, Walker seeks an elusive 5A playoff win. Southern Lab also has a bunch of new faces and could prove good things happen the year after star players graduate. Scotlandville also seeks a return to playoff prominence after a tough 2018.
Don’t see your team here? No worries, there is always room for a team to rise and surprise.