Three Catholic and two predominantly Baptist high schools once again lead every football class in Louisiana this week.
In an association whose vast majority of member schools are public, the five considered by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association the best of the bunch are St. Paul’s in Class 5A, St. Thomas More of Lafayette in 4A, St. Charles Catholic in 3A, Christian schools John Curtis (2A) and Ouachita Christian in Monroe (1A) for the fourth straight week.
But will any or all be state champions when the state finals come to the Superdome on Dec. 9-10?
Of the five, St. Paul’s, St. Thomas More and Ouachita Christian have the highest power ratings in their respective classes. St. Charles Catholic has the second-highest rating to Livonia in Class 3A, and John Curtis ranks third behind Winnfield and Menard in 2A.
But as the final four weekends of the regular season wind down and intra-district competition heats up, look for changes at the top.
St. Paul’s has gotten past the toughest part of its schedule, but I know that head coach Ken Sears and his staff will not allow their Wolves to exhale with games against Fontainebleau (6-0) and Ponchatoula (4-2) ahead in the weeks to come.
Archbishop Rummel’s 42-0 dismantling of Thibodaux did little to elevate the Raiders from No. 10 to No. 9 in the 5A poll, but it keeps Rummel among the top two 5A schools in power ratings.
Now unbeaten in five games, Rummel will have its biggest test to date this weekend when it meets West Jefferson at Memtsas Stadium on Oct. 14. The Bucs have all the incentive they need to make the game interesting: (1) They have to overcome the early mistakes that cost them their first loss last week to Brother Martin, 34-22; and (2) they need to raise their No. 19 power rating to get a decent position in the state playoffs.
I believe the most dangerous public school teams in 5A are 1. Dutchtown, 2. Carencro, 3. Byrd, 4. West Monroe and 5. Acadiana.
There is no team remaining on Dutchtown’s schedule that figures to be a speed bump en route to a 10-0 regular season.
Although Barbe routed the reigning 5A champion Acadiana, 44-21, last week, the Lake Charles school usually folds in the “big” games. And Barbe will have one on Friday when 5-0 Carencro comes to their Prien Lake campus.
Carencro may be the best team in 5A. The Bears have averaged 52.5 points through a perfect 6-0 run.
Byrd, which sent North Louisiana power West Monroe to its first defeat in Week 1, has a date with 6-0 Parkway this week. I don’t believe this will be a problem for Byrd because, although Parkway has the No. 4 power ranking, it has gotten little attention from the pollsters outside of Shreveport-Bossier.
What makes West Monroe and Acadiana dangerous is that both likely will make the playoffs with low seeds. That will be bad news for two unnamed first-round hosts in bidistrict play.
The top teams in Class 4A – St. Thomas More and Breaux Bridge – are another week away from their battle to determine their district’s champion. A Breaux Bridge victory would put that school in the driver’s seat on the bus to the Dome. But don’t count No. 3 Neville or No. 4 Lutcher out of the equation.
St. Charles Catholic (6-0) travels to Port Allen (6-0) to decide the District 7-3A title, and I know the Comets will be prepared for this challenge, perhaps their last big test of the regular season.
Livonia and Loranger are also unbeaten and rank high in 3A, but to me the team to watch is Amite, which has allowed just 24 points in six games and has been winning handily since losing to 5A Ponchatoula, 17-16, in Week 2.
Unbeaten Patterson is ranked No. 2 behind St. Charles in the poll, but its schedule of weak opponents only rates a No. 14 power rating. That could be trouble for that team in the second round.
A volleyball sweep?
Could it be that the five-state volleyball champions will be from the Greater New Orleans area? Sure could.
And three of the schools considered the best in their divisions are Cabrini, Ursuline Academy and De La Salle.
Coaches Greg Castillo of Cabrini and Ursuline’s J.J. Juan have led their schools to state championships in recent years, but De La Salle has taken its place among the elite of that sport under coach Jessica Helgeson.
As an athlete at Dominican and UNO, Helgeson was a polished performer. As a coach, she’s shown the skills of a veteran mentor at a young age.
Her Lady Cavaliers have the best record in Division IV at 19-5. The losses were dealt by schools in higher divisions with combined records of 94 wins and 13 losses.
De La Salle entered the week on a seven-match win streak, five of which were three-game sweeps of it opponents. Included is a win over district rival No. 2 Newman, its main rival.
Division I top seed, Fontainebleau, has yet to lose a game, much less a match, in accruing a 24-0 record. Along the way, the Lady Bulldogs have beaten 22-5 Cabrini, 21-3 Mount Carmel, 23-2 Destrehan and 13-1 Country Day, the top seed in Division V … quite impressive.
If the playoffs were to begin today, 14 Catholic schools from the Archdiocese of New Orleans would be in, including Mount Carmel, Dominican, Archbishop Chapelle, Cabrini, Academy of Our Lady, St. Scholastica, Ursuline, Xavier Prep, De La Salle, St. Charles Catholic, Academy of the Sacred Heart, Pope John Paul II, St. Mary’s Academy and Archbishop Hannan.
Ron Brocato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.