Curtis playing up; stage set for Catholic League reunion

To the surprise of practically no one, two of the state’s football powerhouses elected to play up from their enrollment classes Wednesday as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association announced the new classifications which will begin in the 2013-2014 school year.

Also to no one’s surprise, the coaches in the New Orleans Catholic League are maneuvering towards a reunion.

Evangel Christian Academy and John Curtis Christian School, which have won a collective 36 state championships between then, both elected to play up from Class 2A, where their enrollment numbers placed them, to Class 3A.

Meanwhile, St. Augustine, Holy Cross and Shaw elected to play up from Class 4A to Class 5A with the hopes of rejoining Rummel, Jesuit and Brother Martin in what has traditionally been known as the Catholic League.

“That’s definitely the intention,” said first-year St. Augustine coach Cyril Crutchfield. “That’s how it needs to be — one big happy family.”

The LHSAA voted in January to allows schools to play up one class higher than their enrollment dictates, beginning next school year. Until 2005, schools were allowed to play up as many classes as they wished. But in 2004, the organization’s principals decided that teams had to go back where they belonged. Curtis has dominated that span, winning titles except for 2009 and 2010 when Evangel won.

Curtis coach J.T. Curtis said the time was right for the school to make the move, as their numbers have steadily been inching up since Hurricane Katrina.

“We think there are several local teams that we could be competitive with,” Curtis said. “And for all our sports, not just football.”

Curtis said he did not know what Evangel would do before Wednesday’s noon deadline, but added he was not surprised at the Eagles’ decision to play up.

“They said last year that they would play up to wherever they were allowed,” Curtis said.

Also not surprised by the move was St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica. The Comets and Curtis have developed quite a rivalry over the years, as reclassification and redistricting have moved the two in and out of the same class and the same districts. Curtis has beaten the Comets several times for district titles and in 2005 and 2006 for the Class 2A state title. St. Charles won the Class 3A state title last year.

“I’m not surprised,” Monica said. “They’ve said all along that they were going to play up as high as they could go. Our thing is, we just would like to stay in the district we’re in right now.

“It’s a very competitive district. There’s a little bit of travel, but it’s very well-run.”

St. Charles competed this year in District 7-3A with Brusly, Donaldsonville, E.D. White, Port Allen and St. James. St. James’s enrollment will drop it down to Class 2A next year.

LHSAA Commissioner Kenny Henderson said he expects to announce the preliminary plan for redistricting either Thursday or Friday.