Fambrough: LHSAA’s big week includes search for football answers

By Robin Fambrough

Advocate sportswriter

It’s another big week for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. There is plenty of basketball playoff action starting Monday. The state soccer finals and state indoor track meet are set for the weekend.

One of the biggest days in the LHSAA’s recent history won’t involve any of those games/events, though. At 9 a.m. Thursday, select-schools representatives meet at the LHSAA office looking to find some common ground and a plan.

It’s been almost three weeks since a nonpublic school committee met with LHSAA officials, including Executive Director Kenny Henderson, to discuss plans for implementing a new football playoff system.

That meeting took place less than a week after the LHSAA’s member principals voted decisively to divide its football playoffs into select and nonselect divisions, placing traditional public schools on one side as nonselect and private, magnet, charter, laboratory and some dual curriculum schools as select on the other.

Several exchanges at that meeting were intense as school representatives expressed anger and disappointment over the vote, which allows for five championships for the more than 200 nonselect schools and two for select schools, whose total number has not been determined. That number is likely to be around 80.

Talk of actual playoff plans was somewhat limited, even though Henderson provided a possible option that would allow for three select divisions. Others submitted similar plans allowing for three or four divisions. Keeping the idea of separate-but-equal in mind, some in the group suggested the select schools should also have five championships, though 5A would have just nine teams.

Comparing the LHSAA select/nonselect vote to the start of divorce proceedings in the marriage is all too easy. It has been painful to watch. The nonpublic meeting wasn’t therapy. There was talk, but no real plan on how to move forward. There’s also talk of private schools taking legal action to stop the new system from being implemented.

Thursday’s meeting offers the chance to move forward in some fashion. The reality is both sides need to move somewhere. In order to make select/nonselect championships work this year, the LHSAA has lots of work to do. A playoff format has to be in place. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome might be available to add Thursday games. Depending on the plan, the LHSAA might have to secure a second site.

Thursday’s meeting won’t solve all problems. Any playoff plan would have to be approved by the LHSAA’s executive committee next month.

It will be interesting to see how many schools attend Thursday’s meeting and what their views are. Regardless of what happens in the long run, some first steps need to happen this week.

Milestones

Broadmoor High girls basketball coach Terence Gillette notched his 200th win a little more than a week ago. Gillette’s Bucs host Ellender in the bidistrict round of the Class 4A playoffs Monday.

Two Baton Rouge area players also cracked the 1,000-point barrier.

Episcopal’s Stan Mays scored his 1,000th point in a win over Runnels last week and leads the Knights into a Class 2A playoffs against Northlake Christian.

Port Allen High’s Rhecie Lee scored her 1,000th point in a recent win over rival Brusly High.