By T. Scott Boatright
It was a surprising day for many Louisiana High School Athletics Association (LHSAA) teams Friday.
And an almost seismic one for a few, including Lincoln Parish’s Choudrant High School.
The biggest overall change is that there will now be only eight classes statewide. That includes the same number of select school classes – four, but reduces the number of non-select school classes down from five to four.
That means the Ruston High School Bearcats hope to be competing in the Class 4 (the highest classification) playoffs come November.
“I haven’t had time yet to really look at it and see what the changes were,” said RHS athletics director/football coach Jerrod Baugh after leading his Bearcats to a 28-23 home win over Jesuit Friday night. “Really to me, the people we play are really good football teams in both non-district and district, so at the end of the day, you have to beat really good teams to win a state championship. It doesn’t really matter who they are.”
If the changes stand after LHSAA meetings in January, it would likely remain the return of the classic 4A district that included Ruston, Neville, West Monroe and Ouachita playing in the same district starting next school year.
“That would be great, but Neville will now be playing in the same bracket as us this season, so that’s already kind of happened,” Baugh said.
In football, the non-select playoffs will include 28 teams, which would mean the top four seeds receiving first-round byes, while the select playoffs will have 24 participants in each class.
The non-select schools now number 217 (52.93% of LHSAA members) while select schools now number 193 (47.07%).
While Ruston, Choudrant and Simsboro will be select schools, both Cedar Creek and Lincoln Prep will now be considered non-select schools, putting them in the same playoff bracket consideration in Class 1.
“I figured it would work out this way,” Lincoln Prep athletics director/football coach Glen Hall said. “And it could easily change again after the January meetings. What they’re really trying to do is pull everybody back together.
“The thing is, now we’re going to be going against some schools that are literally much bigger than we are, because right now we’re probably the second smallest 1A school. But it really doesn’t matter to us. We’re going to line up and play because in the end, that’s all everybody wants — the opportunity to play.”
All of Friday’s changes mean that for the remainder of this academic year, there are now no B or C classifications. Choudrant is now considered a Class 3 non-select school (along with Quitman and Weston) while Simsboro is a Class 4 non-select school and New Living Word is now considered a Class 4 select school.
Those are big changes for Choudrant, which is the two-time Class B baseball champion while the Aggie basketball programs made solid playoff runs, and for Simsboro, which has won two straight and four of the last five Class B boys basketball titles.
“A lot of us were surprised at what a big change it was,” said Choudrant principal Tony Antley, who retired from his role as head baseball coach this summer but will remain a member of the LHSAA Executive Committee during January’s meetings for the last time before retiring from the Lincoln Parish School System later that month. “It’s pretty dramatic to drop three classes and move everybody in only four. That’s a big change for everyone.
“It’ll be a challenge for sure. We’ll be mixed in with football schools for the first time – schools that might not have more students in those schools but have a lot more athletes overall from time to time. We’ll have our work ahead for us and we could have some big changes here for athletics down the road. We may have to look at doing some different things.”
To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE