By Ron Brocato, Sports
Mount Carmel and Pope John Paul II are favored to repeat as division champions in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Volleyball Tournament this weekend, while Cabrini and St. Scholastica are pointing toward a possible meeting in the semifinals.
The tournament at the Pontchartrain Center tips off on Nov. 9, and all 10 of the local Catholic school teams that survived the qualifying rounds will be among the quarterfinalists to play on that day.
Meanwhile, the division football playoffs will get underway on Nov. 10 as a first step to the championship games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Dec. 7-9.
But first, off to Kenner…
Mount Carmel and Pope John Paul II, the reigning champions of their respective divisions, return to the Pontch as No. 1 seeds with two easy postseason wins in hand.
The Division I champion Cubs will face No. 9 Baton Rouge Magnet at 8 p.m. on Thursday (Nov. 9).
Pope John Paul II is looking to win a fourth straight Division IV title. The Lady Jaguars have defeated Newman twice (2014 and 2016) and Archbishop Hannan (2015) in the most recent championship matches. This year PJPII and the Lady Hawks could meet in the semifinal round as the bracket shapes up.
The Slidell Catholic school meets No. 8 Academy of the Sacred Heart at 9 a.m. on Thursday, and Archbishop Hannan must get past No. 5 Newman, also at 9 a.m., to set up that return match.
Dominican and Archbishop Chapelle also qualified for the Division I quarterfinal round. No. 5 seed Dominican opens against No. 4 Northshore at 6:10 p.m. Chapelle, the No. 11 seed, will face No. 14 St. Amant at the same time two courts over.
A win by Dominican will likely match them with district rival Mount Carmel on Nov. 10 at 3:30 p.m. A Chapelle victory will pair the Chipmunks against No. 2 St. Joseph Academy, also at 3:30 p.m.
Two Division II matches to watch will be the debuts of No. 2 Cabrini vs. No. 7 Ben Franklin at 4:20 p.m. and No. 3 St. Scholastica vs. No. 6 South Lafourche at 6:10 p.m.
The two are on the same side of the bracket and would square off in the semifinals on Nov. 10 at 1:40 p.m. The winner will likely face the No. 1 seed and defending champion Teurlings Catholic in the finals on Nov. 11.
No stranger to Division III championships is Ursuline, the No. 4 seed, which drew the top side of the bracket with favorite Vandebilt Catholic. Ursuline meets No. 12 Westlake at 12:40 p.m. on Nov. 9.
And a greatly improved De La Salle team enters the Division III quarterfinals as the No. 10 seed and a date with No. 2 St. Michael’s at 9 a.m.
The final semifinal round matches will be played at 3:30 p.m. to accommodate the football playoffs on Friday.
And speaking of…
The convoluted playoff system – which matches public school vs. public school and non-publics vs. their kind – begins on Nov. 10, and, yes, some teams will play each other for a second time this season.
It’s happened each of the four previous years of separate playoffs. Remember?
In 2013, the first year of the select schools playing for division titles and non-select schools playing for class championships, Archbishop Rummel won the first Division I title by beating Byrd, 23-22.
St. Augustine faithful will remember how the Raiders got there. After losing to St. Aug and its great running back Leonard Fournette, 35-21, during the regular season, Rummel scored the winning points on a broken play in the final seconds of a semifinal-round game, 31-28. The loss denied the favored Purple Knights their first finals appearance since 1979 and denied Fournette an opportunity to display his greatness before a Superdome crowd.
The following year, Jesuit met St. Aug. on the last week of the season, then beat the Knights again a week later in the first playoff round. The Blue Jays then defeated Catholic League champion Rummel, 28-14, after losing to the Raiders during district play. The Blue Jays then defeated John Curtis for their first title since 1960.
Similar situations have occurred each year involving Archbishop Shaw, Brother Martin, St. Paul’s, De La Salle, Archbishop Hannan and St. Charles Catholic. And it’s about to happen again.
On Friday, No. 5 seed St. Augustine (6-3) will meet No. 12 Jesuit (2-8) at Tad Gormley Stadium. St. Aug won the first game, 37-24.
No. 7 St. Paul’s (6-4) will host No. 10 Holy Cross (5-5) in a key Catholic vs. Catholic match-up. The winner will then play John Curtis (9-1), which drew one of three first-round byes.
No. 9 Rummel will travel to Shreveport to face No. 8 Byrd.The reward of another Rummel victory would be a return trip to Shreveport a week later to face No. 1 Evangel.
No. 6 Brother Martin (6-4) hosts No. 11 McKinley (4-6) at Yulman Stadium on Friday, and No. 13 Shaw (0-10) has the dubious honor of meeting No. 4 Catholic High (7-3) in Baton Rouge.
De La Salle is looking for a second opportunity to play for a football championship since 1961. As they did last year, the Division II Cavaliers ended the regular season with an unbeaten record. So they will sit out the first round, awaiting the winner of the No. 8 Archbishop Hannan (8-2) vs. No. 9 Vandebilt Catholic (7-3) game at Hannan.
De La Salle (9-0) is the No. 1 seed in that division. In 2016, the Cavaliers won 11 straight before being eliminated by eventual champion Parkview Baptist in the semis.
No. 3 St. Charles Catholic (8-2) also drew a bye and will host either No. 6 E.D. White (9-1) or No. 11 St. Louis (3-7) on Nov. 17.
No. 13 Pope John Paul II (2-8)will visit No. 4 Dunham (8-1) in a Division III game on Friday.