University No. 2, Lab No. 4 in polls

No Baton Rouge area team garnered a No. 1 ranking in the preseason high school football polls from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

There’s nothing wrong with being No. 2 and No. 4. Just ask University High and Southern Lab.

U-High, the Division II select state runner-up a year ago is ranked second in the LSWA’s Class 3A poll, behind 2013 state champion John Curtis. Southern Lab grabbed the No. 4 spot in 1A after making its way to the Division IV select semifinals last fall.

“I think there are a lot of similarities to last year,” UHS coach Chad Mahaffey said. “This ia a close knit group just like that team. There is room for improvement. If you had asked Friday night (a jamboree win over McKinley), I probably would have said I wasn’t sure we should be ranked.

“There is lots of potential, but there are things this group has to prove. Last year’s team was determined and motivated from the first snap. This year, we have the same goals, but we don’t know id they they’ll play with that kind of focus every week.”

Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell was pleased to find out his team’s No. 4 ranking. However, the SLHS coach was more concerned about happens next. The Kittens host No. 5 St. Charles Catholic of Class 3A Friday night at McKinley High.

“Now that’s some top 10,” Mitchell said, when told the order of the rankings. “I wouldn’t want to face some of those teams. With that said, we do have a schedule that includes a lot of schools from higher classes.

“Being ranked with a group like this is quite an honor. It’s important for the kids to know what it’s going to take to stay in that group. It won’t be easy. We’re going to have to work every day.”

A Baton Rouge area team claimed a top 10 ranking in all but one classification — Class 2A.

Catholic High squeezed its way into the Class 5A rankings at No. 10 after making it to the Division I select quarterfinals in 2013. Defending Class 5A champion Acadiana is ranked No. 1, followed by Division I select champion Archbishop Rummel at No. 2.

Also claiming a No. 10 spot was Plaquemine in Class 4A. The Green Devils were a 4A quarterfinalist last fall. New Orleans-based Warren Easton got the top ranking in 4A.

Traditional power John Curtis is rated first in 3A. The Patriots, who beat U-High in last December’s Division II select final, will play in the Division I select playoffs this fall. Parkview Baptist, a Division II semifinalist in 2013, is rated seventh.

Southern Lab is the only BR team in the 1A top 10. Two teams with ties to area districts also are featured. Kentwood of 6-1A (fifth) and West St. John of District 8-1A (sixth) also are in the 1A top 10.

Polling from the start

Calvary Baptist, last year’s Division III select champion, is ranked first in the Class 2A poll. Mangham, the 1A runner-up a year ago, edged out defending champion Haynesville for the top spot in 1A.

Last year’s Class 4A champion, East Jefferson, did not crack the top 10, but did receive four points from the LSWA committee that consists of voters from across the state.

Defending 3A champion Union Parish was ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, while runner-up Livonia finished outside the top 10 with 11 points.

Kinder, the 2A champion in 2013, is rated fourth, just behind last year’s runner-up, Many.