Fambrough: Prep Classic’s new format provides many memories

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELDAcadiana's Noah Melancon shows the championship trophy to fans as   players celebrate their 77-41 victory over Parkway Saturday after the Class 5A championship of the 2013 Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Farm Prep Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELDAcadiana's Noah Melancon shows the championship trophy to fans as players celebrate their 77-41 victory over Parkway Saturday after the Class 5A championship of the 2013 Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Farm Prep Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Years from now, the 2013 Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm Prep Classic may be relegated to a few lines of small type in a game program.

Scores of the games tell only a small part of the story that happened when the LHSAA hosted nine football title games for the first time at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

After months of debate and consternation over whether LHSAA member principals made the right call by dividing its championships into separate divisions for select schools and nonselect schools there was just football — three long days of football.

I’m sure there were fans in the stands, who just like the reporters in the press box, questioned whether the games illustrated the view of principals who want separate championships or the select schools, a group of mostly private schools, who don’t.

Both sides probably believe what happened proved their point. More than likely, the main thing the games will be remembered for is the number of points scored.

Those on hand for Saturday night’s Class 5A game likely won’t forget it. I know I won’t forget Acadiana’s 77-41 victory over Parkway. There were records set and more points scored than you’ll see in many basketball games.

By scoring 77 points, the Wreckin’ Rams took a wrecking ball to the Prep Classic records. Acadiana fell just four points shy of the record for most combined points by two teams in a title game.

The Parkway-Acadiana game was one of three games that saw the winning team score more than 60 points. Vermilion Catholic beat St. Frederick 63-18 in the Division IV final. Calvary Baptist beat Archbishop Hannan 62-7.

What do all these points mean? Call them a reminder that changing the format to include more teams isn’t a guarantee there will be parity in each game.

As I waited to enter the media entrance on Saturday, two broadcasters discussed the merits of the split format. One gentleman said that he was tired of seeing private-school powerhouses like John Curtis and Evangel Christian dominate every year.

Curtis was there and won again. Others, like Evangel and Ouachita Christian, were not.

There were plenty of Prep Classic newcomers, eight of them to be exact. And if the goal of the split was to get fresh faces into the finals it worked. However, three newcomers were beaten soundly.

East Jefferson provided the best Cinderella story by ousting traditional power Karr 38-28 in the Class 4A game. The Warriors had never played for or won a state title in football before.

Ranking right behind the Parkway-Acadiana game in terms of excitement were Rummel’s 23-22 win over Byrd in the Division I final and Union Parish’s 33-27 two-overtime victory over Livonia in the 3A.

Images of player on a Union Parish reserve holding up the No. 33 jersey of the late Jaleel Gipson during the game are etched in my memory. Gipson died last spring after a spring-practice injury. It wasn’t until afterward that I learned fans were chanting “33, 33, 33,” which wound up being the number of points the Farmers scored.

Yes, there was good stuff, along with some other moments that weren’t so good in the blowout games.

But is it the right stuff for the LHSAA and the Prep Classic going forward?

Those decisions won’t be made until LHSAA principals meet again next month. There could be another nine-game event, a return to the old five-game format, or something in between.

Now it’s time for someone other than the coaches and players to make the call.