Decisions by Landry-Walker and McDonogh 35 to compete in classifications dictated by their enrollment highlighted the first meeting of the LHSAA classification process Wednesday at LHSAA headquarters in Baton Rouge.
Landry-Walker, a Class 5A state champion in football in 2016 and a state champion in basketball in 2017, declared its intention to return to Class 4A following a four-year run in the state’s highest classification level.
McDonogh 35, a perennial Class 4A power in football and basketball, similarly decided to compete in Class 3A rather than play up in classification.
“We didn’t decide to play up (previously). We were classified as a 5A school when we played in 5A due to our enrollment numbers being up,’’ Landry-Walker athletic director Tarence Davis said. “We play where we’re classified.
“For us, (Class) 4A provides an opportunity to have those natural rivalries again and to get to play against teams that we have played in the past. It allows our kids to play against other kids that they are familiar with.’’
“Our decision was based on the situation with our school,’’ McDonogh 35 athletic director and boys basketball coach Kevin Sanders said. “We don’t know where we’re headed (as a school). (The Orleans Parish School Board is) trying to charter the school and they don’t know where the enrollment numbers are going to be in the future. So we basically decided to stand where we fell.’’
Landry-Walker, a No. 18 seed in the upcoming 5A football playoffs, projects as Class 4A’s 12th largest school with 1,054 students. The Charging Buccaneers are expected to be reunited with Karr, Warren Easton, Belle Chasse and Helen Cox in one of two New Orleans area Class 4A football districts that also includes McMain.
Carver, Ben Franklin, John F. Kennedy and Riverdale currently comprise the other local Class 4A football district. Riverdale is moving up in classification to 5A. Inserting Landry-Walker from Algiers into the predominantly West Bank district could allow McMain to replace McDonogh 35 in the 10-4A East Bank district.
McDonogh 35 is expected to be placed in one of two local Class 3A football districts that likely are to be drawn from a group that includes De La Salle, KIPP Renaissance, KIPP Booker T. Washington, Sophie Wright, Abramson Sci, Haynes, Thomas Jefferson and Kenner Discovery, which is fielding a varsity football team for the first time in 2018-19.
St. Charles Catholic and Cohen, two other area football-playing schools that currently are in Class 3A, are dropping down in classification to 2A.
In regards to the two other area Class 3A schools that play football, Lusher is moving up to Class 4A while St. James is expected to compete in a Baton Rouge area 3A district.
McDonogh 35’s decision was reached in deliberation among the school’s Executive Director, Harold Clay, and athletic department officials, Sanders said.
“We told (Clay) our thoughts on reclassification and he said you all know better about this than me, so he concurred with (the coaches recommendation) and said to play where our numbers dictated,’’ Sanders said.
McDonogh 35’s current enrollment of 452 would place the Gentilly school well below the Class 4A cutoff of 659 while playing in 3A still makes the Roneagles the seventh smallest school in that classification.
“We don’t have the numbers to play up and compete at a high level,’’ Sanders said. “That’s why the football team is struggling (5-5 this past season) and that’s why we’re going to struggle (in basketball). Hopefully, (the numbers) will build back up.’’
The next most noteworthy news involving local schools involved Holy Cross, Rummel, St. Augustine, Shaw and John Curtis opting to play up in classification and with Jesuit and Brother Martin keep the Catholic League intact as a seven-team league.
Holy Cross, Rummel, St. Augustine and Shaw’s enrollment numbers placed those schools in Class 4A while Curtis’ current enrollment of 390 ranked the three-time reigning Catholic League football champion as Class 2A’s ninth largest school, one spot behind St. Charles Catholic.
Some initial confusion occurred regarding Curtis and St. Augustine’s option to play up to 5A. Their names initially were not read aloud during the meeting, causing a minor stir.
Curtis’ documentation was located quickly, however, and found to have been misplaced in the LHSAA email system.
St. Augustine was not as fortunate and had to re-submit its paper work later in the afternoon.
“We’ve got it squared away,’’ St. Augustine athletic director Barret Ray said. “We had sent the documentation. (The LHSAA) said they never got it. But I had the paper work. I re-scanned them and sent them in.’’
KIPP Booker T. Washington also had a temporary encounter with anxiety when its 3A enrollment figure of 560 was confused with that of Booker T. Washington-Shreveport’s 858 number that placed the northwest Louisiana school in Class 4A.
The error involved the LHSAA’s verification of BIPP BTW’s enrollment through the Department of Education in which an incorrect “site code’’ was entered producing BTW-Shreveport’s enrollment. The situation was corrected during an appearance by KIPP BTW principal Robert Corvo.
One other noteworthy piece of news emanating from the meeting was Evangel’s decision to compete in Class 4A rather than 5A. That move frees the Shreveport school, with the fifth lowest enrollment in Class 2A, to compete in the Division II state playoffs in football rather than Division I.
The LHSAA’s next classification and districting meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 19 at the association’s Baton Rouge headquarters.