As the season nears, here are our fearless predictions for the upcoming year:
1: A lawsuit will be filed that will challenge the LHSAA’s new split football playoff format, and it may affect the postseason.
For the sake of all the teams involved, let’s hope this happens sooner, not later. Select schools have made no secret of the fact that they’re unhappy with the format, which places them in separate playoff brackets away from traditional public schools. The longer this process drags out, the greater the chances are that it will affect the playoffs and championship games — something no one should want.
2: University High will end Parkview Baptist’s string of six straight district titles, and Plaquemine will unseat Lutcher in 6-4A.
Call it a perfect storm. University High moves up to Class 3A and into District 7-3A with Parkview, and it’s loaded with college prospects. Parkview is again solid along the line, but the Eagles are replacing all but one component in their offensive backfield. It will come down to how well PBS meshes its offense by the time the teams play Oct. 11 at Parkview. Likewise, Lutcher is replacing people in lots of key places. Plaquemine returns plenty of top performers but travels to LHS on Oct. 25.
3: Notre Dame-Crowley coach Lewis Cook and St. Thomas More’s Jim Hightower will have to battle to reach milestones.
It is possible for Cook (287-78) to notch his 300th career win. Hightower (357-112-1) is nine wins away from tying Alton “Red” Franklin for second on Louisiana’s all-time wins list. Cook would have to win 13 of 14 games via the LHSAA’s select playoff format to reach 300. The Pioneers are in the select Division II with powers John Curtis, Evangel Christian and Parkview. Hightower’s team returns three starters from a year ago and faces the same Division II power brokers in the playoffs.
4: Other than University High’s Dylan Moses, what other phenoms will emerge?
Just look at UHS to find another gem in sophomore Tre’ Jackson, a defensive back-receiver who has committed to Florida. The Dunham School has sophomore Drake Davis, a 6-foot-4 sophomore wide receiver. Donaldsonville sophomore tight end Stephen Sullivan, who is 6-5 and 230, is attracting attention, too.
5: Don’t be stunned by this, but national media will continue to get caught up in the hype over Moses.
Rules for recruiting have changed dramatically in the past two years — most notably in the past year, since Moses started getting major college scholarship offers as an eighth-grader. Now that Moses is primed to start his high school career, the demand for game information and anything else available likely will grow. U-High staffers already have received emails requesting autographed Moses jerseys — months before the Cubs’ first game.
6: Football officials are in line to take less heat than they did last year.
We’ll find out how well the LHSAA’s system, which stresses accountability and professional improvement among officials, will fare. Football coaches and complaining about calls go together about as well as peanut butter and jelly. The chances for zero confrontations between coaches and officials is, well, zero. Hopefully the number will go down.
7: At least four players will rush for more than 1,000 yards.
Possibilities abound. University High’s Nick Brossette was a Metro MVP last season and thrives in the Cubs’ one-back set. LSU commit Sione Palelei of East Ascension is primed to have a breakout year. So is Catholic High junior Derrius Guice. East Feliciana’s Kameron McKnight and Scotlandville’s Dontrell Hilliard can be in that number if their teams’ young linemen mature. Arkansas commitment Torrance Mosley of Dutchtown and Plaquemine’s Julius Maracalin, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2011, are back, too.
8: There will be at least four 1,000-yard passers.
With so many teams running spread offenses, this is practically a foregone conclusion. Catholic senior Nick Coomes is a three-year starter and primed for a big season. East Ascension has an experienced signal caller in Layne Trahan. Live Oak’s Michael Claverie was a 1,000-yard passer as a sophomore. Look for at least two first-year starters in spread offenses to crack the 1,000-yard barrier.
9: It won’t just be the much-hyped newcomers moving into the spotlight.
If Redemptorist finds success, senior Russell Gage likely will have something to do with it, and coach Terence Williams plans to play Gage at multiple positions. Tara’s Kaleb Kador was on track for a 1,000-yard rushing season a year ago before injuring an ankle. He could carry the Trojans to success. West Feliciana will lean heavily on brothers Jay (linebacker) and Jazz Ferguson (receiver).
10: Playoff futility will continue for East Baton Rouge Parish school system teams.
Woodlawn snapped a four-year streak of postseason struggles with a victory over Ruston in 2010. The key to garnering a playoff victory will be having enough regular-season success to nab a high enough seed to host a playoff game. That powerhouse private school teams will be moved to a separate playoff bracket should help, but will it be enough?