New LHSAA classifications could make playoffs more competitive

Published 8:00 am Saturday, September 17, 2022

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NEW ORLEANS — The LHSAA finalized its classifications for Louisiana’s football, basketball, baseball and softball brackets following last week’s committee meetings.

The results are expected to make this year’s playoff games more competitive.

Select and non-select schools across the state now have a more even split, with 217 or 52.93% classified as non-select and 193 or 47.07% considered select.

When the split of public and private schools was first enacted in 2013, the LHSAA assigned 296 schools as non-select and only 109 as select.

A 16-5 vote among the LHSAA’s executive committee in June changed the definition of a select school to “private or public schools that have a state or parish approved designation as a lab school, magnet school, with one or more magnet components, approved charter schools, parish wide approved open enrollment, state recovery-district (RSD) application-based parish schools, tuition-based schools and/or any established academic and/or retention-based criterion schools.”

Prior to this change, a public school was only considered “select” if at least 25% of its student population resided outside of its school zone.

Under the new rules, all Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish schools are classified under the “select” category due to open enrollment policies.

The initial, unofficial list released in June had 211 select schools, compared to 194 non-select. During the September 2022 LHSAA committee meetings, 26 schools that submitted appeals moved from select to non-select.

Among the schools that won appeals to return to non-select were Amite, Independence and Kentwood.

Thirty-two team playoff brackets are also a thing of the past, at least for prep football; according to the LHSAA’s new guidelines, only 28 teams will be eligible for the post-season. There will be only eight classes statewide – four select and four non-select.

Basketball will keep the same format of 32-team brackets for non-select and 28 teams for select. In softball and baseball, non-select brackets will have 32 teams, and select will have 24.

In the River Parishes, St. Charles Catholic and Riverside Academy remain under the select category, and East St. John and West St. John will still be classified as non-select. However, the changes have implications for this season’s football playoff match-ups. The private schools in particular could face a bigger pool of competition.

Frank Monica, a coaching legend in the River Parishes who spent many years at St. Charles Catholic, weighed in on the select/non-select split in the first episode of his new sports podcast, “Let’s Be Frank.”

Monica believes this change will make the early rounds of the playoffs more meaningful compared to recent years.

“It really sounds like a good deal to me in terms of equal competition. The LHSAA got a little concerned about a lot of these blowout games because when you took the select out of the public schools, you weren’t playing 1 vs 32 anymore,” Monica said. “That 32nd now was more like a 45. You weren’t seeing those upsets anymore – and some people opting to not even play or go into it.”

In addition to reducing blowouts, Monica expects the new classifications to also reduce the number of bye weeks for select schools in the playoffs.

“The drawback is that the decision is being made during the regular season, and coaches may have scheduled different if they had this information beforehand,” Monica said.