More champions will be crowned this season than ever before
Grasping the fact that the Louisiana High School Athletic Association will have a split football playoff system this fall is tough enough.
Many observers, including fans and some member schools, don’t understand which schools fall in the select and nonselect categories.
Two things are certain, LHSAA Assistant Executive Director B.J. Guzzardo said.
First, LHSAA schools will continue to play each other in the regular season. From there, the teams will take separate paths to claim one of the nine state titles to be decided Dec. 12-14 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Second, there will be more playoff games. Under the traditional format, the LHSAA conducted 155 playoff games in five classes each year. The new format raises that total to 217.
The final plan approved by the LHSAA’s executive committee in June is different from what member principals approved in January. The original Proposal 18 called for seven total championships — five for nonselect schools and two for select schools.
After meetings and polling select schools, the executive committee opted to add two divisions for select schools to help alleviate concerns about the disparity in enrollment sizes in a two-division development.
While the brackets and number of games will be different, the regular-season process the teams and the LHSAA will follow remains pretty much the same. So will the LHSAA’s power ratings system.
“When it comes to putting the teams on the brackets, the process will be the same,” Guzzardo said. “It will take some more time because we’ll have nine brackets instead of five.
“Some other things are the same, too, like the power ratings. They talked about changing how the power rankings are figured but wound up leaving that the same way. The biggest change will be the brackets themselves.”
During the regular season, the LHSAA’s select schools — a group made up of private schools, certain charter schools, magnet/dual curriculum schools and laboratory schools — will play in the same districts with nonselect traditional public schools.
Schools will still report weekly scores to the LHSAA throughout the 10-week regular season. Changes will take shape when the LHSAA releases its playoff pairings.
Not much will change for the LHSAA’s nonselect schools once the playoffs start.
The five nonselect classes will continue to use a 32-team bracket for five weeks of playoffs. Because the nonselect Class 1A has just 27 teams, there will five first-round playoff byes in 1A.
The chances for a typical nonselect school to make the playoffs will improve. For example, in 5A and 3A there are 52 teams as opposed to the average of more than 60 previously. There are 49 nonselect schools in 4A and 39 in 2A.
By contrast, every select school will make the playoffs and only one of the four select divisions, Division IV-Class 1A, has enough teams for a 32-team bracket. The other divisions will use a 16-team bracket.
With 30 nonselect Division IV teams, there will be two first-round byes. When the nonselect schools and Division IV schools play first-round games, the other three select divisions will play regional games.
The process continues with regional/quarterfinal games the next week and quarterfinal/semifinals the following week. The top three select divisions have byes the week the nonselect schools play semifinals.
There will be more byes in the 10-team Division I-5A. There will be six byes and just two games in the Division I-5A regional round. Having 15 teams in Division III-2A means there will be one regional bye.