There was a familiar feel as the LHSAA began its two-year classification process for 2019-21 on Wednesday. But there was just a little drama.
Two New Orleans schools, John Curtis and St. Augustine, were not initially on the list of schools opting to play above their enrollment-based classification as they traditionally do. That was rectified as the first classification meeting held at the LHSAA office in Baton Rouge concluded. So ultimately it was more of the same.
“Overall, I am pleased with how things went (Wednesday). This is a process and (Wednesday) was the first step,” LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said. “The process that Louisiana has in place is good and I do think there are ways we can improve it."
Numbers were verified with a cross check of numbers with the Louisiana Department of Education. The LHSAA's executive committee finalized the …
Bonine said his office had some email issues that led to confusion regarding the John Curtis and St. Augustine cases.
"In our office, we do not lose things or misplace them, so we had an unusual scenario," he said. “There was a staff change, and any time we have a staff change, we have to secure the website and the email and that is what happened. We were able to go through and find the documents (for John Curtis) that were sent during that time.”
St. Augustine later resubmitted its request to play up from Class 4A to 5A, wrapping things up a neat package. Bonine said the initial two-year plan for districts would be placed on the LHSAA website within the next 48 hours. LHSAA member schools then have five days to submit their own plans/requests in advance of a second classification meeting set for Nov. 19.
Curtis will again play up from Class 2A to 5A. Three other New Orleans area Catholic League schools, Rummel, Shaw and Holy Cross, also opted to move from 4A to 5A.
Perhaps the lone surprise was Shreveport’s Evangel Christian playing up from Class 2A to 4A, instead of playing in 5A as it has in recent years.
Bonine said the LHSAA staff is also scanning its system for communications from Kentwood, a Class 1A power listed as the smallest 2A school in the fall 2019 to spring 2021 list by a margin of three students. Kentwood football coach Jonathan Foster said the school incorrectly included about 50 middle school students who are not registered to play sports in its enrollment.
“In hindsight, we should have come to the meeting (Wednesday),” Foster said. “Our true enrollment is right at 180, so we are a 1A school. Hopefully, we can get this straight (Thursday).”
Scotlandville and St. Michael were the only local schools opting to play up. Scotlandville was listed as the largest 4A school in the LHSAA list and opted to go back up 5A. Enrollment numbers put St. Michael in 3A, but the Warriors opted to play up to 4A where they traditionally play.
Schools playing up do not alter the basic classification numbers/dividing lined approved Wednesday. Those schools are simply added to the classes they are playing up to.
There are two key changes in the local 4A ranks. Lutcher dropped back down to 3A after two years in 4A. Parkview Baptist opted to remain in 3A and not play up to 4A from 2017-19.
“We tried something different the last two years, and after looking at the overall picture, we decided it was best for us to stay in 3A,” PBS Athletic Director Darron Mitchell said.
McKinley, with 1,152 students, is the smallest 5A school. Woodlawn (1,210) moved up to 5A. Broadmoor (1,110) dropped from 5A to 4A.
Sanctions don’t alter playoffs
The LHSAA released a football-related penalty ruling to Vandebilt Catholic on Wednesday morning, but they do not alter the playoffs. Under LHSAA rules, violations reported within the final 10 days before the playoff pairings are released result in postseason sanctions.
The Houma-based school was cited for a recruiting violation and has been fined $1,000 and will also forfeit wins that will be announced later. The 12th-seeded Terriers will travel to play No. 5 De La Salle in the Division II playoffs Friday.