From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 24, 1999

When the Louisiana High School Athletic Association went to a seeding procedure for the football playoffs this year, there were comparisons to the NCAA basketball tournament.

In one aspect, those comparisons are appropriate – in the number of lower seeds knocking off higher ones through the first two rounds.

While there were few cases in the bi-district round, those cases were notable, especially in Class 5A. In the biggest upset, 29th-seededAcadiana knocked off fourth-seeded Archbishop Shaw, a perennial semifinal contender. Staying in the same bracket, 20th-seeded Holy Crossedged 13th-seeded Destrehan.

The 13th seed was indeed an unlikely spot to be in in the first round as three of the five teams in that position were knocked off. BesidesDestrehan, Westminster (to Christian Life) in Class 2A and Logansport (to Southern Lab) in Class 1A were eliminated.

Other major first round upsets included 23rd-seeded Barbe defeating 10th-seeded Hammond in Class 5A; 27th-seeded Pineville over sixth- seeded Bossier and 23rd-seeded Bogalusa over 10th-seeded Chalmette in Class 4A; 21st-seeded Franklinton over 12th-seeded Washington (N.O.) inClass 3A; and 24-seeded Varnado over ninth-seeded Sumner and 21st- seeded Vermilion-Catholic over 12th-seeded Springfield in Class 2A.

The ball really got rolling in the regional rounds. Class 2A was especiallynotable where the third, fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth seeds were knocked off. Two were notable for the margin of victory. Fourteenth-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas rolled past third-seeded Coushatta, 26-8. And10th-seeded West St. John shutout cross-parish rival and seventh-seededRiverside, 38-0. In the other upsets, fourth-seeded Vidalia fell toChristian Life and fifth-seeded Newman lost in overtime to Vermilion Catholic.

In the other classes, 14th-seeded St. Augustine defeated third-seededRummel, 12th-seeded Ruston defeated fifth-seeded St. Amant andAcadiana defeated Holy Cross in 5A; 15th-seeded Capitol over second- seeded Eunice, 12th-seeded Salmen over fifth-seed St. Martinville nd23rd-seeded Bogalusa over seventh-seeded Woodlawn in 4A; 15th-seeded Teurlings over second-seeded Lutcher and 11th-seeded Karr over sixth- seeded Independence in 3A; and 11th-seeded Grambling over sixth-seeded Delcambre in 1A.

After the carnage was over, two number twos, two number threes, one number four and three number fives are gone. On the other hand, teamsseeded 12th, 14th and 29th remain in Class 5A; 11th, 12th, 15th and 23rd seeds are alive in 4A; 11th and 15th seeds are advancing in 3A; 14th, 20th and 21st seeds will be in the quarterfinals in 2A; and a 11th seed remains in 1A.

Regardless of what happens this week in the quarterfinals, the semifinals will have a different look than last year. In Class 1A, 1998 state runner-up St. John’s was eliminated by Haynesville in the regionals, leavingKentwood, Mangham and Grambling from last year’s top four.

The Class 2A state runner-up, Riverside, is also gone as is Loyola, which fell to Iota in the regionals. That leaves only West St. John and Oak Grovefrom last year’s semifinals.

Only one team from the 1998 semifinals, St. James, remains alive in theClass 3A playoffs this year. Lutcher and Independence, another staterunner-up, both fell in the regionals, while Evangel moved up to Class 5A and is still alive.

It’s the same story in Class 4A where only John Curtis remains. Crowleyfailed to make the playoffs while Bastrop fell in bi-district and state runner-up Eunice lost in the regionals.

Class 5A is more stable where West Monroe, Catholic and Ruston are still in the hunt. The fourth team, Jesuit, failed to make the playoffs.But have many of these games really been upsets? Some good teams – Ruston, West St. John, Capitol, to name a few -may have been underratedwhile some higher seeds may have benefitted by the new power point seedings.

What has not changed with the new formula is that the games are still decided on the field, where heart and desire are often just as important as talent.

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