The 2013-14 high school sports year came to a close Saturday night with the conclusion of the LHSAA state baseball championships in Sulphur.
What a year it was.
Here’s a look back at some of the good, the bad and the ugly of the school year:
Let’s start with the case of too many men in the Hudl.
In a strange story in this age of technology, the Destrehan football team was penalized by the LHSAA when it was discovered that five assistant coaches obtained a password and illegally scouted South Lafourche practices. They used Hudl, a video application that lets teams study themselves and scout opponents using film from their previous games — but not other team’s practices.
The penalties were severe.
The team forfeited its 49-24 victory over South Lafourche, and the five assistant coaches weren’t allowed to attend any more games during the regular season. Four of the five were allowed to come back for the playoffs, but they had to coach from the press box. A fifth coach (and his girlfriend) weren’t allowed to attend any playoff games.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t the most bizarre story of the year. Heck, that wasn’t even the most bizarre story in October. That title belongs to the next story, which left me wondering, “Who’s in charge?”
In one of the strangest stories in the over 15 years I’ve covered high school sports, two referees were arrested … DURING a football game.
The referees, trying to get assistance on crowd control from law enforcement, were booked on a count of public intimidation of a police officer during a game between St. Paul’s and Mandeville.
The charges were dropped. After further review, one of the Covington Police officers was demoted. Another one involved in the incident retired.
Several teams and several players played lights-out this season.
Several local stadiums played lights-out too, doing their best Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Super Bowl XLVII impression. (Too bad we didn’t get a Beyonce halftime show to go with it.)
The lights at Behrman Stadium in Algiers failed during the playoffs, forcing Landry-Walker to postpone a Friday night game against Ellender until Saturday afternoon.
The power failed again the next week, but officials were prepared and had an auxiliary set of lights on standby.
It wasn’t just Behrman Stadium and football. Tad Gormley and futbol got in on it as well: The Division I state championship game between St. Paul’s and Grace King was delayed because of a power outage, too.
Speaking of lights-out, how bad were some of the football state championships with the new select and nonselect format? There were 99 games played in the opening round of the playoffs. In 44 of those, the winning team won by at least 30 points.
Things didn’t get much better in some of the championship games. (There were eight instead of the normal five.)
Three teams scored over 60 points. Calvary Baptist surged for 62 in a 62-7 victory over Archbishop Hannan in the Division III select title game. The 62 points tied the record for points scored in the State Farm Prep Classic.
That record lasted for just two days: Vermilion Catholic broke it in a 63-18 victory over St. Frederick in the Division IV select game.
And that record stood for just seven hours: Acadiana broke it later that night in a jaw-dropping, 77-41 victory over Parkway in the Class 5A nonselect title game.
Want some even worse news? School administrators voted to stick with the split format for this season. The vote wasn’t close.
Some of the scores this fall won’t be close, either.
Let’s start with the East Jefferson football team, my easy choice for best team this year. (OK, you can make an argument for the Ben Franklin girls soccer team, which stretched its winning streak to 40 games and won its second straight championship.)
But East Jefferson went undefeated on its way to taking the Class 4A nonselect state championship trophy back to Metairie. It made its playoff run through a brutal schedule that included Warren Easton and then favorites Neville and Karr.
Two months later, EJ coach Nick Saltaformaggio accepted the head coaching position at Hahnville.
The East Jefferson football team wasn’t the only feel-good story, though. The Landry-Walker basketball team won the 4A crown in the school’s first year after the merger of Landry and O. Perry Walker high schools. And let’s not forget Lusher, which won the boys soccer title, the school’s first in any sport.
The Mount Carmel girls basketball team won its first title. Salmen repeated with a classic title-game win over Warren Easton.
The Country Day boys hoops team repeated, overcoming a slew of injuries in the title game. And the Riverside boys continued to roll along, winning another title.
The Rummel football team also went back-to-back. Some dynasties don’t appear to be ending anytime soon.
John Curtis won its 26th state title in football. Brother Martin continued to dominate on the mat, winning its third consecutive championship. And the Jesuit boys tennis team won its 19th title in 20 years.
But the story of this year was St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette.
In a year the New Orleans area was overflowing with talent with guys like Malachi, Speedy and Gerald, it was Fournette who dazzled all season long while being in the bright spotlight that comes with being considered the nation’s top player.
His announcement in January of where he will attend college was one of the most anticipated in years. He chose to keep Buga Nation close to home, signing with LSU.
He’ll be a tough act to follow. But so will the 2013-14 school year.