Year 4 of the convoluted “separate but equal” football playoff system has been friendly to most of the local Catholic schools.
But because the non-public schools are fewer in number than their public counterparts, the largest brackets will hold just 16 teams in two of the four divisions.
Meanwhile, the public schools, whose playoffs are divided equally into five classes, will have full 32-team brackets (even though some teams qualified for the playoffs without having to win a single game.
Many High principal Norman Booker and his merry band of principals, who voted to end a single playoff system in five sports (for now), have given themselves the opportunity to win a first-place trophy without having to beat what they perceive to be the best teams in Louisiana.
Booker’s football team is the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A playoffs. As such, Many High, with a perfect 10-0 record, gets to open the playoffs on its home field on Nov. 11 against General Trass, a school that sports a 0-10 record and has been shut out four times.
And hurrah for No. 3 Welsh, also 10-0, with a first-round home game against Sophie Wright, a former junior high that has a roster of 17 players. In eight losing games, Wright has managed to score 14 total points while Welsh has averaged 47 points per game. And that includes a 69-13 win over Vinton.
That’s the mentality behind “separate but equal.”
Selecting the top 56
Fifty-six private and Catholic schools qualified for the Select football playoffs. Thirty-nine, or about 70 percent, have winning records mostly by beating the public schools in their districts.
The entire Catholic League qualified, including Holy Cross (3-7 record) and Archbishop Shaw (1-9), because there aren’t enough schools in Division I to fill a 16-team bracket.
On the other hand, Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Hannan, two Select schools with 4-6 records, did not make the playoff cut because they were seeded below the No. 16 position, at Nos. 18 and 20, respectively.
Archbishop Rummel and Jesuit, which meet in the first round on Nov. 11 as Nos 8 and 9 seeds, will be playing each other for the second time. Rummel won, 17-10, when they met in a District 9-5A game. It was Rummel’s last victory to date.
The winner gets to play John Curtis, which drew a bye as the No. 1 seed. That game will likely take place on Nov. 19.
St. Paul’s, the District 6-5A champion and No. 4 seed, hosts Shaw, the 13th and final seed.
No. 7 St. Augustine will host No. 10 Byrd, and if the Purple Knights are victorious, they will then be required to get past No. 2 Scotlandville, a team that beat St. Aug, 36-20 in early September.
No. 6 Brother Martin will meet No. 11 McKinley, and that should be a “W” on the Crusaders’ side. But then they’ll meet the reigning Division I champion Catholic High in Baton Rouge in the quarterfinal round.
Holy Cross, at No. 12, will travel to Shreveport to play Evangel (a long trip at great expense) and a probable loss.
Cavs will see competition
De La Salle has experienced its best season since 1961 when the Cavaliers played (and finished second) for the state championship.
This is a good, well-coached team made up of some of the finest young talent from area playgrounds.
If the Cavs have anything working against them, it is the weak district they ruled this year.
De La Salle was the only team with a winning (10-0) record. The district included bottom dwellers like KIPP Renaissance (2-8), Sci Academy (3-7) and Clark (0-10). But they passed their greatest test in Week 10 when the Cavs beat defending 3A champion Lutcher, 27-3.
They should make it to the semifinals, where they will meet either No. 5 Parkview Baptist, the 2015 Division II champion, or No. 4 Teurlings, both, by far, the best opponents they will have faced.
Comets will be tested
As the No. 3 and winner of eight games, St. Charles Catholic will host Thomas Jefferson, a team the Comets handily defeated, 35-6, on Sept. 9. And they won’t have to face district rival and No. 1 seed, Riverside Academy, unless it’s in the Division III championship game in the Dome on Dec. 2.
But there is enough quality competition in this bracket.
Calvary Baptist, the No. 6 seed, and its opponent, No. 11 Opelousas Catholic, are seven game winners.
Also on the Comets’ side is the No. 2 seed, Notre Dame, which is unbeaten for the season.
Riverside appears to have smooth waters until the semifinals.
The Rebels open with Sacred Heart of Ville Platte, a team that went 5-5 but was soundly beaten by three playoff participants: Catholic of New Iberia, 56-13; Opelousas Catholic, 41-21, and Notre Dame, 62-8.
For Riverside to get to the finals, where the Rebels lost to Notre Dame, 13-3, in 2015, they will have to get past No. 4 Catholic of New Iberia in the semis; no easy task.
Ron Brocato can be reached email@example.com.