In Louisiana, waiting for a new football season to begin is not all that different than being a kid who must wait to open Christmas gifts.
The wait is excruciating as the days slowly count down. And there is never any guarantee that you — or your team — will get exactly what you're dreaming about. Instead of those trendy basketball shoes, there could be a pair of ugly dress shoes you only wear twice a year. Rather than a winning season, your team finishes below .500 and is seeded No. 32.
Now that the season is less than a month away, it is finally time to get more specific about wish lists and issues at hand.
The elephant in the room has gotten larger. Since January, we’ve waited and wondered just what will happen with the LHSAA’s select title games. The reality is we still don’t know, even though the newly minted but not LHSAA-sanctioned Louisiana Select Association provides a structure for whatever is decided.
Since the select/nonselect split for football began in 2013, the struggle to strike a balance between nine championships has been real. A recent move to three Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic games a day has provided the best balance so far.
That January vote that gave select schools control of their split sports title events is a game-changer in more ways than one. The chance for the select/nonselect schools to reunite for the Allstate/LHSAA Prep Classic appears slim. The best bet is for nonselect games in New Orleans and select games at some other site like Cajun Field in Lafayette.
To be clear, the private/select schools are still part of the LHSAA and the only place they’re going is to their usual separate playoff brackets and then on some other site for championships. First, all local teams will compete together in the same districts, battling each week to see who the best teams are.
The possibilities abound for key matchups throughout the season. Both Zachary and Catholic High make the trek to Shreveport’s Battle on the Border for Week 2. Each will play an out-of-state opponent at Independence Stadium. As cool as that is, I would rather see the teams play each other — something they have done the past few years.
A new season is just like those bright new Christmas gifts. Sometimes the glitter disappears during the day. A high school football game is made of four 12-minute quarters. The season itself is a marathon that begins with the official start of preseason practice for many schools this week.
The gift that is high school football is here. The marathon that ends with trophy presentations in December is about to begin.