Expect the Catholic League to survive reclassification

By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

expect all hands to be on deck on Nov. 7, the date that schools of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association below Class 5A declare their intentions to remain in their respective classes or to “play up.”

The LHSAA’s recently released projected enrollment figures for the 2019-20 school year show that just two Catholic League (District 9-5A) members have the numbers to remain in Class 5A.

They are Jesuit and Brother Martin. The others – Archbishops Rummel and Shaw, Holy Cross and St. Augustine – have projections below that class.

There is no question that John Curtis (390 students) – the only non-Catholic school in the Catholic League – will choose to remain in 9-5A. Curtis has been dominant on the field. 

Numbers doubled

The figures reflect the enrollment for schools that field football teams. The LHSAA doubles the number reported for single-gender schools.

Jesuit ranks as the sixth-largest high school in the state, with 2,154 students. Jesuit’s actual projected number is 1,077 students in grades 9-12.

Brother Martin ranks No. 19 with 1,814, when, in fact, it has 907 boys in grades 9-12.

Falling short of 5A status are Rummel (525), Holy Cross (517), St. Augustine (512) and Shaw (394). These are actual numbers, not those doubled by the LHSAA.

There has been speculation that Shaw, which has not posted a winning record since rejoining the Catholic League in 2013, may elect to play in a Class 4A district against area teams of similar size.

I don’t see that happening under any circumstance. 

The Marrero school is in a district of faith-based schools, five of which share their Catholic beliefs. They are under the umbrella of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which has many schools run by religious orders.

The district is well organized as a business and its members have an amicable, professional relationship. Most are usually on the same page when making decisions.

If Shaw were to drop down, it would be placed in a district whose members might not have Shaw’s best interests at heart.

There likely will be two local Class 4A districts. One will include Edna Karr, Landry-Walker, Helen Cox, Warren Easton, McMain and Belle Chasse.

The other likely will include Carver, Kennedy (at Lake Area), McDonogh 35, Riverdale and Ben Franklin, which doesn’t compete for district  honors in football.

If the Shaw administration has any question about what to expect with such a move, it needs to ask Archbishop Hannan athletic director Joe Hines.

When Hines was the AD at De La Salle in a similar public school district, he had to volunteer to be the district chairman every year in order to have the business of the district run smoothly. 

I am confident that the Shaw administration will choose to remain in the Catholic League beyond Nov. 7. Although the football program may continue to battle the odds until enrollment improves, there are more reasons to remain in a district that will give the school some financial support through attendance at sporting events, as well camaraderie in a Catholic partnership.

Other enrollments

St. Paul’s is another true Class 5A school with a projected enrollment of 1,463 students (731.5 actual enrollment).

The school ranks in size as No. 34. Nevertheless, that doubled figure is less than the numbers of six of its northshore district counterparts. Hammond, with 1,441 actual students, ranks at No. 36.

Four coed high schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans will remain in their current classes. 

Archbishop Hannan projects 534 students; De La Salle, 488; St. Charles Catholic, 391; and Pope John Paul II, 300. The first three are Class 3A in size and compete in the Division II football playoffs. Pope John Paul II is a Class 2A member that competes in Division III.

Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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