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ESJHS adds experience to football staff

Some head football coaches collect tangible possessions like awards and equipment.

New East St. John coach Alden Foster has adopted a different approach. The former Amite High coach is collecting head coaches to join his staff.

Former Southern Lab coach Nick Mitchell, ex-Live Oak High coach Tut Musemeche and Bogalusa’s Craig Jones are all set to join Foster at Class 5A ESJHS.

Mitchell will serve as assistant head coach and work with the offense. Musemeche will be the offensive coordinator, while Jones will work with the defense. Foster’s defensive coordinator at Amite, Dwayne Davis, is already on staff.

“These guys are people I’ve always wanted to work with,” Foster said. “Tut and I have talked about it through the years and when we’ve played Bogalusa I’ve always talked with coach Jones.

“They’re all proven coaches. Nick took Southern Lab to the title game last year. They all bring a lot of experience with them.”

Foster was hired as the East St. John coach after leading Amite to its second runner-up finish over a four-year span in Class 3A in December. Mitchell, who resigned at SLHS last month, coached the Kittens to a runner-up finish in select Division IV.

Musemeche, who resigned at 4A Live Oak late last year, also has served as a head coach at St. Michael and St. John.

Foster said he decided to pursue his coaching colleagues based on the advice of another coach who recently made the jump from Class 3A to 5A, Zachary High’s David Brewerton. Brewerton moved from Livonia to ZHS last season.

“Coach Brewerton told me the one thing I had to do was get the best coaches I could,” Foster said. “He said on 5A the expectation is that every position has to be coached up to the highest level. So I tried to find the best people I could. These are guys I can trust.”

Dooley “released”

Christian Life Academy has confirmed that head football coach Keith Dooley is no longer with the school.

The Class 1A Crusaders of District 6-1A finished 2-8 last season. Dooley, who had two coaching stints at the school, compiled a record of 33-31 at CLA.

“We released coach Dooley on Friday,” CLA Athletic Director Steve Garcia said. “I can confirm that. Other than that, the school has no comment at this time.”

Ursin nets honor

Destrehan High sophomore Cara Ursin was selected as Louisiana’s Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

The 5-foot-7 sophomore averaged 26.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.9 steals a game for a DHS team that lost to eventual state champion Ponchatoula in the Class 5A semifinals last week.


Double-doubles and more hoops

By Robin Fambrough

High school basketball’s version of the double play is something everyone associates with University High. There’s a good reason for that.

The Cubs pulled off a unique double-double a year go when its boys and girls basketball teams won Class 3A state titles.

As the U-High girls play for a 3A state title on Friday night at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament, the Cubs sit a game away from advancing to the next week’s Boys Top 28. UHS plays Port Allen in a quarterfinal set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

The Cubs are not the only local team with a chance to double up on LHSAA tourney time. The White Castle High boys travel to Lafayette Christian on Friday looking to advance to an LHSAA tourney a week after the WCHS girls made it to the 1A semifinals.

“Our girls did a great job and now it’s our turn,” White Castle coach Troy Green said. “There are some similarities. Our girls were No. 6 seed and so are we. Lafayette Christian was the team that knocked us out in this round last year, which left a bad taste in our mouths.

“We know Lafayette Christian is going to be a huge challenge. Going one through five they can all shoot the 3-pointer and handle the ball. We’ll have our hands full, but we’ve got out fans behind us. They want to see both teams make it to the state tournament.”

Ja’Tyre Carter leads the Bulldogs (26-7) in scoring with a 16.0 average. Jacorey Washington has averaged 20 points per game in the playoffs and is at 12.0 for the season. Samson Westley (13.0) and Jerrell Dominique (10.0) also help Green’s White Castle team that seeks its first Top 28 berth since 2012. The Bulldogs last won the 1A title in 2011.

Sportsmanship hearing set

LHSAA Assistant Executive Director Keith Alexander said a sportsmanship hearing set for 9 a.m. on April 8 will address what happened to halt Tuesday’s Class 3A playoff boys basketball between Albany and Evangel Christian.

The game was stopped with 3:24 remaining with Evangel leading by 12 points when an altercation that reportedly included spectators and players broke. Five Albany players who left the bench were ejected.

Albany elected not to complete the game with its five remaining players, giving Evangel a forfeit win.

A Tiger and a Techster

They played in different eras for two of Louisiana’s women’s college basketball powers. Mansfield coach Kendra Neal and University High’s Bonita Johnson also bring some prep history to their Class 3A title game set for 8 p.m. Friday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament.

Johnson, who played at Stephen F. Austin and LSU in the 1980s, played for then Class 4A DeRidder in the 1980 state tourney then known as the Sweet 16. Neal played for Class C Pelican, a school that was closed two years ago, in the early 1990s. She went on to play at Louisiana Tech.

Remember when?

Class 5A title-game foes Walker and Ponchatoula have to look back to 1977 as a significant year both share in girls basketball. Walker won the 2A state title that year and Ponchatoula was the 3A runner-up.

Louisiana Representative J. Rogers Pope, the former Livingston Parish Superintendent of Schools, was the Walker girls coach in 1977.







Jean Credit makes a Top 28 mark

By Robin Fambrough

LAKE CHARLES — Winning a state title and making some kind of mark at one of the LHSAA Top 28 tournaments is something we typically think about players doing.

Local official Jean Credit made some history when she was part of three-member crew that called the Florien-Stanley Class B semifinal game on Wednesday.

A former all-state player at Redemptorist, Credit played in the LHSAA tournament for the Wolves two times in the mid-1990s. At the time it was known as the Sweet 16 tourney and was played in Alexandria at the Rapides Parish Coliseum.

Credit went on to play at Southeastern Louisiana University and had a brief coaching stint at Istrouma before settling into a private sector job. She is in her fifth season as an official.

“It was my first game at the state tournament, which is a huge honor,” Credit said. “I’ve been working and going to a lot of clinics in the summer just hoping to get a chance like that.

“I didn’t think much about playing in the tournament until I got out there on the court yesterday. You could tell the the girls were nervous. They were trying so hard,  but they missed layups and fumbled the ball some. I remember doing that myself.”

Anthony Hall and John Fielding completed the all-Baton Rouge crew that called the Florien-Stanley game.

Albany-Evangel game under investigation

Assistant Executive Director Keith Alexander confirmed that the LHSAA is investigating the altercation that led to a forfeit in the Albany at Evangel Christian Class 3A boys basketball game played Tuesday at ECA.

“We’re in the process of getting copies of videos and reports from both schools,” Alexander said. “This is something we take very seriously.”

The altercation involved spectators and five Albany players were ejected for leaving the bench area with 3:24 remaining, according to reports by The Shreveport Times.

Albany was given the option to finish the game with its five remaining players, but declined. Evangel was ahead by 12 points when the game was stopped and plays at John Curtis in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

Alexander is currently in Lake Charles for the Girls Top 28 tournament and said no time table has been set for handling the investigation.

Southern Lab gets its man

Southern Lab’s hiring of former LSU and Glen Oaks quarterback Marcus Randall for its head football job was easy to peg.

Randall, most recently the offensive coordinator for his brother, Eric Randall, at Scotlandville High, said he was waiting for the right opportunity. With a number of top players returning for last year’s team that finished as the Division IV select runner-up, Southern Lab is a great situation indeed.

Randall was rumored to be the favorite days after former SLHS coach Nick Mitchell resigned. However, a list of impressive finalists also included Central assistant Ken Hilton and Episcopal assistant Jimmy Williams. The school interviewed a total of 12 candidates, including Redemptorist’s Terence Williams.

There will certainly be pressure on Randall. Older brother Eric coached an SLHS team led by future LSU and NFL player Marcus Spears to the Class 1A title game.

Bonine gets comfortable

LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine is officially on the job for the first time this week and he’s wasted no time getting involved at the Girls Top 28 tourney.

Bonine has worked his way around the arena, meeting and greeting coaches, administrators, players and fans. He’s also getting a first-hand look at how the LHSAA staff runs a championship event.

Top 28 stuff

Wednesday’s five-game session attracted 5,260 fans. The fact that nearby Lacassine played in one of the Class B semifinals played a huge role in the attendance figures.

Lacassine’s presence should boost the numbers again on Friday. The tourney’s two-day attendance total at Burton Coliseum is 7,361.






Notes from the LHSAA Girls Top 28 Basketball Tournament

LAKE CHARLES – A map is not just helpful, it’s necessary, if you’re looking to understand the last three years of Randy Carlisle’s coaching career.

Carlisle was all business after Summerfield notched a 50-38 victory over Plainview in the first Class C semifinal game that opened the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament on Tuesday.

“It’s awesome to be here with this group,” Carlisle said. “It wasn’t our best game, but it was good enough to win.”

It was good enough to put the Rebels in Friday’s Class C title game just a year after Carlisle coached what he thought could be his last game in Louisiana for Class B Hosanna Christian.

A long time coach in north Louisiana and Texas, Carlisle came to Baton Rouge and Hosanna for the 2013-14 season. Hosanna made it to the Class B playoffs, but soon it was announced that the school was closing.

“I didn’t think I’d be here,” Carlisle said. “I’ve got a plan for a business and I was originally going back to Dallas. I coached in that area for a long time and I thought it would be easier for me to find a facility for my business there.”

Credit Summerfield Principal James Scriber for his pursuing Carlisle to coach the north Louisiana school’s boys and girls teams. Scriber and others knew plenty about Carlisle.

The year before his brief tenure at Hosanna, Carlisle coach another north Louisiana school, Castor, to the Class B boys semifinals. That year Castor lost to Madison Prep in the semifinals at SLU’s University Center.

“I was looking for a facility and the parish (Claiborne) was looking to sell the old Athens school so I’m going to be able to use that for my business,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle’s burgeoning business is a wellness program geared for people of all ages. For this week, the wellness of the two Summerfield teams comes first.

The top-seeded Summerfield girls play No. 2 Pleasant Hill in the Class C final set for 4 p.m. Friday at Burton Coliseum. His sixth-seeded SHS boys beat Singer 63-36 in a regional played Monday and will play a quarterfinal game on either Thursday or Saturday.

“Right now I’ve coached 72 games this year,” Carlisle said. “I’m blessed, but I’m also tired.”

LHSBCA Hall of Fame
The Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association is set to induct former coaches Clyde Briley, Billy Montgomery and Dale Skinner into its Hall of Fame on March 20 in Shreveport in conjunction with the LHSCA All-Star games.

Briley coached at Midland, while Montgomery coached at Haughton and Skinner is perhaps best know for his coaching stint at DeRidder.

The LHSBCA press release notes that the trio has “promoted the sport more than any combination of men in the state’s history. Together they have played on State Championship teams, coached State Championship teams, served as Principals of schools that won State Championships, served as Superintendents of Parishes that won State Championships and even officiated State Championship games.”

Another title tie
White Castle High junior Ashante Knight looks can carry on a family tradition if the Bulldogs win at the Girls Top 28 on Tuesday.

Knight’s brother, former LSU safety Ronald Martin, led the White Castle boys to a 1A state title in 2011.

– by Robin Fambrough

Live Updates from LHSAA Meeting

This is Robin Fambrough, The Advocate’s Baton Rouge-based high school sportswriter. I’ll be providing live updates from today’s Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday.

10:03 a.m.: Executive Director Kenny Henderson is giving report on SCR 128 which asks LHSAA to get involved in awarding letter jackets, other awards. It is mentioned just in passing in constitution.

Henderson calls it a local issue for principals to handle. Doyle’s Tommy Hodges moves that LHSAA not comply with request and it passes.

10:06 a.m.: Mike Boyer of Teurlings Catholic starts school relations committee report. Notes that Winnfield’s Jane Griffin is now on the executive committee.

Boyer notes that Episcopal’s Myra Mansur has left the committee and is being replaced by Redemptorist Principal Dary Glueck. Notes that St. Thomas Aquinas’ Jose Becerra replaced Northlake’s Monte Fontenit.

Boyer says the committee has cleared its table.

Said group discussed nine-game scenario for football.

10:09 a.m.:  Boyer recounts what new SRC member Norman Booker of Many sharing his thoughts. Booker talked about his desire last year to split all sports. Boyer said Booker is aware that the LHSAA Exec Comm took a stand against any added split of LHSAA during the summer.

10:12 a.m,: Boyer finishes report. President Vic Bonnaffee notes that School Relations Committee will meet once more before December.

Now Ecole Classique’s David Federico gives non-public school committee report and notes that there are many changes there.

Federico said committee believes the football playoffs involve too many schools and the committee also wants to see no additional split within the LHSAA and is committed to helping the exec committee and school relations committee to prevent an added split.

10:17 a.m.:  Strategic planning committee report from Lee Bellard begins

Bellard details goals/objectives:

1, Education, stressing the importance of it.

2, Safety: work with sports advisory committee to make decisions.

3, Work with coaches and coaches association on professionalism and career development.

4, Work with athletic directors and AD’s association on national certification and improvements.

5, Work with officials to develop training opportunities and recruitment of new officials which will be vital to the future.

6, Championship events. Make sure the LHSAA hosts events at the best facilities and at a reasonable cost to LHSAA.

7, Making sure that sports are education based and know that they help lower drop out rate and improve morale at schools.

8, Improved Governance. Being proactive on issues and not reactive. Make sure sound plans to handle procedures and finances are in place.

Bellard is told to consider meeting with committee to come up with possible proposals to be considered in January.

10:33 a,m.: Jimmy Anderson gives Hall of Fame report. Anderson asks that penalty be increased to $2,500 fine and being placed on playoffs if they play nonsanctioned Hall of Fame games.

Anderson also asked that the Hall of Fame games dates to play be expanded to more dates.

Anderson notes that one volleyball school was fined $500 for hosting a nonsanctioned volleyball Hall of Fame game. Note: restrictive probation would prevent both teams from being in the playoffs.

10:46 a.m.: Exec committee approves adding Hall of Fame fundraising games for volleyball, baseball and softball, joining basketball. Committee does not approve stiffer $2,500 fine and playoff probation for teams that host nonsanctioned games.

10:51 a.m.: LHSCA Director Gary Duhe talks to committee about making LHSCA summer clinic mandatory for coaches.  He notes that Alabama fines its head coaches $300 if they don’t attend.

Duhe said the plan would be to offer rulings clinics in all sports. He sees clinic moving to a larger facility in New Orleans. It might be seen as  more of a destination for coaches.

Duhe also notes the possibility of adding futures all-star games for basketball, softball, baseball, etc. to clinic. The possibility of a clinic for new coaches who just graduated from college is noted,

Duhe also notes LHSCA wants to limit nonfaculty coaches to assistant coaches roles in the future.  Current head coaches would be allowed to continue.

Possibility of giving clinic classes for professional enrichment also is noted.

Ouachita Parish’s Todd Guice questions the cost to schools of requiring coaches to a attend the clinic.

Duhe says that ideally the clinic would rotate around the state and have bidders for it once attendance improves. He also notes that Nike and BSN are all-star equipment sponsors.

11:07 a.m.: Assistant Exec Director Ronda Richardson takes about mounting a campaign to promote positive aspects of the LHSAA. Tell people the LHSAA does more than issue rulings that make people unhappy.

She also discussed the student advisory committee that was announced last week. Had 110 applicants.

Richardson shows a couple of video clips of students on the committee.

11:21 a,m.: Assistant Executive Director Keith Alexander reports on rules  testing for officials.

11:39 a.m.: Alexander talks about forming a committee to study pay raises for officials in order to avoid a possible walkout like the LHSAA experienced a few years ago. He says many groups do well and others, like basketball, are behind what other states pay.

Loranger’s Sam Messina makes a motion that is approved that would add two executive committee members to the sports officiating committee,

11:52 a.m.: LHSAA marketing assostant Jacob Doyle discusses asking schools to consider joining the school streaming program for sports that is offered for free to schools by the NFHS. He says it would give students not involved in athletics an outlet to be involved.  There is a subscription fee for those who will sign up to watch.

12:40 p.m.:  Meeting continues with presentation from LHSAA Exec. Director Kenny Henderson.

Henderson tell committee about meeting in Alexandria where use of the upgraded Rapides Coliseum for basketball championships in 2016. Says group will make a presentation perhaps in March. They’re also interested in wrestling and volleyball.

Very interesting. Henderson said he’s gotten an inquiry about Southside High of Monroe, an alternative school for boys from across the state who are placed there by a judge.

Discusses options. It’s noted that BR-based LTI was part of the LHSAA in the 1960s and 1970s.

He asks if member schools could  be allowed to play them.  Response is not favorable from committee members. Assistant Exec. Director B.J. Guzzardo notes that there are possibly two other schools like this,

Committee says to head it off and not have Southside pursue membership

Henderson tells schools about being approached about having scjools into National Bowl games. The committee votes against it.

1:10 p.m.: Henderson brings up passage of ACT 853 that would allow students to cross parish lines to attend a school if their school is academically failing. Exec. Committee votes to keep its Parish Boundary rule in tact which would make students who do this ineligible.

Henderson notes that 893 coaches/administrators have attended handbook certification classes so far.

1:18 p.m.: Henderson shows graphic in order to change baseball pitching rule.

Henderson wants the rule to say a calendar week instead of five-day rotation, which the rule currently states.

Committee is asked to decide whether it is done now or wait until January for a convention vote.

Tommy Hodges of Doyle moves to make change now, President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic says it should be considered by  association. Instead Todd Guice moves to put it on the January agenda for all principals to vote on and it’s approved.

Committee votes 11-10  against allowing athletes who follow coach to another school that play a spot he/she doesn’t coach. Interpretation will be that students are ineligible for all sports. It may go before the LHSAA membership again.

1:59 p.m.: LHSAA executive committee going into executive session.

2:55 p.m.: And the executive session continues for the LHSAA executive committee. Committee is now moving to executive boardroom for session without LHSAA staff.

4:15 p.m.:  LHSAA executive committee still in executive session.

































Looking at Week 3 Football

Sometimes the best thing about one week of the high school football season is being able to move on to the next one.

Such was the case for several Baton Rouge area teams who found themselves on the wrong side of lopsided scores in Week 2.

I’m getting plenty of questions about a possible lack of parity. Though that may be true to some degree, the first two weeks of the season tell us, if nothing us, just how mercurial the game can be.

One week your team might give up 48 points. But take heart because the same team might score 50 the following week.

It reminds me a lot of the weather in Louisiana, which can change dramatically in less than an hour.

Right now the only thing that is certain is more change.

The comment Brusly High coach Erik Willis made Friday about his team not having an “A” game yet really hit home for me.

The fact is some teams may never find that “A” game or even a “B” game.

We’ll find out more about several teams this week.

Take Dutchtown at Destrehan as exhibit A. Catholic High was picked as the preseason favorite in District 5-5A, which makes sense. Running back Derrius Guice is playing on a another level right now. A 48-0 win over Mandeville on Friday night was impressive.

No longer the new school or someone else’s little brother, Dutchtown has a tradition of its own that includes NFL Pro Bowlers Eric Reid and Eddie Lacy. Destrehan’s hard-nosed tradition includes two state titles in the past decade.

Consider Plaquemine at Woodlawn next. What’s not to like about two unbeaten teams playing each other?

Both teams have speed, size and something to prove. Ninth-ranked Plaquemine of 4A is out to prove it is better than last year’s quarterfinals berth. Woodlawn wants to prove it can challenge the likes of Catholic and Dutchtown in 5-5A.

Port Allen at Livonia, Amite at Southern Lab and University High at LaGrange in Lake Charles also merit watching.

Even though Livonia has a new coach in Guy Mistretta, the Wildcats are recognized now as a 3A power after advancing to the title game. Port Allen wants to prove its merit before going into a rugged District 7-3A schedule that includes No. 2 University and No. 9 Parkview Baptist.

And speaking of U-High, this week could be quite interesting. Quarterback Manny Miles has been sidelined by an injury and thanks to an altercation in a 19-6 win over Southern Lab, UHS running back Nick Brossette could be forced to sit out against LaGrange, now 0-2.

Southern Lab’s march through larger classification opponents continues after losses to Destrehan (jamboree), St. Charles Catholic and UHS. The 1A Kittens play eighth-ranked Amite of Class 3A.




Jamborees and other stories

As I walked into the gym at Louisiana School for the Deaf on Wednesday afternoon a volleyball whizzed past a nearby table and bounced off the wall.

Nothing says welcome to the McKinley Jamboree or to high school volleyball for 2014 quite like that. About six hours later it was over and the remaining four teams hurried out the gym, leaving the lights on and score sheets scattered on the scorer’s table.

In between there were snippets of volleyball excellence and interactions that define the sport for the unique entity it is.

Four teams rotated around the two-courts in one-hour intervals. Like all jamboees, the action fell behind because there is so much to squeeze into a short period of time.

First there was the underdog’s story with a twist. Broadmoor’s seven-member team fought its way to three victories, winning by narrow margins in the final two sets. One of those sets ended with the Bucs beating host McKinley 21-20.

One factor that always makes McKinley-Broadmoor match-ups special is the coaches. Broadmoor’s Maria Gonzalez played at McKinley for Brenda Simon before going on to play at SoutheasternLouisianaUniversity. Afterwards, Simon said she got what she expected and talked about the progression of her team.

“They (Broadmoor) are always scrappy,” Simon said. “They don’t give up. Considering I graduated five seniors – my whole group of attackers – I’m pleased.

“We pass the ball better than we did last year. Where we made mistakes was in executing our offense. We had three hitting errors right there at the end. We’ll get better.”

As expected, St.   Joseph’s Academy was nearly flawless.  The Redstickers’ JV and varsity teams swept their sets impressively. The crowd that gathered to watch the varsity was at times in awe.

Simon called SJA dominant. St. Michael the Archangel coach Rob Smith said he believes there’s a chance the defending Division I state champion Redstickers won’t drop a set this season. Another coach inquired about who is recruiting each of the SJA seniors after watching powerful hit after powerful hit.

It was good to see The Dunham School’s Donna Pixley back on the bench. She spent one season concentrating on athletic director’s duties and smiled broadly after her team posted two wins.

“The other part (athletic director’s duties) is work, this is fun,” Pixley said.

Yes it was.

Totally connected

I got the chance to congratulate new Zachary High Principal Joe LeBlanc on his new job at the McKinley Jamboree. LeBlanc and I first met each other more than 30 years ago when he was teaching in the Houma-Thibodeaux area and I was worked for a newspaper in that area.

We talked about Zachary and it’s coaches. LeBlanc mentioned the impressive way new ZHS basketball coach Kenny Almond got his physical education classes dressed out and whipped into shape. No surprise there.

LeBlanc also talked about his connection to the football coaching triangle the Broncos are part of. New ZHS football coach David Brewerton was an offensive lineman LeBlanc coached during his stint as an assistant coach at Catholic High.

Former Zachary coach Neil Weiner, who has taken over at Dunham, was a teammate and classmate of LeBlanc’s son at Catholic.

And what about Livonia’s Guy Mistretta, who left Dunham and is now at Livonia, the school Brewerton took to the Class 3A title game a year ago?

“Before I went to Catholic I was offensive coordinator at Redemptorist for one year and Guy was my quarterback,” LeBlanc said.

 Rebels lose quarterback

West Monroe has lost quarterback Randall Belton for the second straight year with a torn ACL. The injury was confirmed Wednesday.

Belton tore the ACL in the same knee during the 2013 season. The junior is expected to miss the entire season.






No answer or Tulane posters

I had the pleasure of speaking to the St. Charles Catholic booster club Tuesday night in LaPlace. You never know what to expect at a booster club meeting. By the same token, the fine folks there probably weren’t sure what they were getting either.

Getting the chance to talk about covering high school sports for The Advocate and some of the things I’ve seen isn’t something I normally do. But it did remind me once again how special it is to cover high school athletes.

I love the athletes, but it’s not just about them. When you have groups of adults who spent their time helping to promote and provide for high school sports teams that’s pretty special too.

The menu included salad and pasta. My grilling, albeit a mild one, started before the meeting began.

One staff member asked me about preseason polls in The New Orleans Advocate’s 2014 Football sections that I brought advance copies of. Since that’s not my area, I really couldn’t provide much more than my own thoughts.

Along the way I also had to explain that The Advocate, New Orleans Advocate and Acadiana Advocate are in no way affiliated with or the Times-Picayune. We get that more often than you think.

I came armed with a group of LSU schedule posters too. Predictably, a couple of folks wanted to know if there were Tulane posters. That’s something I assume our marketing department will work on for the future.

We talked a little about top players and top teams. I explained to them how the evolution of high school athletes still amazes me. And I talked about how high school athletics is an important teaching tool that gets teens to reach beyond their limits. They can do things they never thought were possible which is a great gift that builds confidence.

I also fielded a few questions about the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s select/nonselect football playoffs and what might be on the horizon for LHSAA schools.

We talked about a plan for seven football classes that would unite select and nonselect schools, an idea that has gained support from some coaches but is still in the talking stages.

I also talked about the certainty of a January proposal to split the LHSAA in all sports. I mentioned the fact that we’ll likely know more about what could appear on thre LHSAA convention agenda in January as soon as next month.

The toughest part was telling those folks I have no idea what the potential solution to the LHSAA’s select/nonselect issues is.

Yes, I didn’t have an answer. Or any Tulane posters.




It’s more than grass

Like lots of other people living outside Louisiana, including my relatives in Kentucky, just don’t get the whole football thing.

And why should they? Basketball is to them what football is to Louisiana.

The scrutiny of the new grass turf at St. Amant High and East Ascension’s home stadiums offers a prime example of why we are who we are in Louisiana. Everything about football, including the fields the teams play on, is a big deal. No wonder LSU’s Les Miles eats grass and downed that grass smoothie for ESPN.

It was announced late Monday that St. Amant is moving its LeBlancs Jamboree with EAHS to Dutchtown High on Friday night. Not a big deal? Guess again.

Concerns over the status of the field at East Ascension’s Spartan Stadium cropped up a couple of times over the summer. Like St. Amant’s The Pit, EAHS’ Spartan Stadium is one of the Baton Rouge area’s iconic high school football venues.

The notion that EAHS’ field might not be ready when little grass could be seen by passers by in late July was put to rest when Spartan coach Paul Bourgeois noted that the offcampus site won’t be used until a Week 2 game with Patterson High, thus allowing for several added weeks for growth.

It was all part of a plan by the Ascension Parish School System to revamp both fields in the offseason. A new and improved Bermuda grass hybrid known as celebration was planted. LSU uses a similar turf in Tiger Stadium, so celebration grass should be something to celebrate. Right?

I’m sure it will be. But getting the turf to grow to the right thickness to withstand a series of varsity, subvarsity and middle school games is no easy feat, especially in Louisiana’s heat when combined with unpredictable rain.

Even before St. Amant announced the jamboree change there was speculation that The Pit might not be ready for its prime time debut. Then came suggestions that the field might not be ready for a marquee Week 1 game with Warren Easton.

Not so said St. Amant coach David Oliver.

The Gators moved the jamboree and next week’s subvarsity games to give The Pit surface an extra week to  grow. Oliver said the grass is thick between the numbers and that sod brought in to help cover areas closer to the sidelines is settling in.

But the SAHS coach did concede that there will be contingency plans for the Week 1 game with Warren Easton just in case.

You’d think the discussion involved a farmer’s prize crop instead of a football stadium. In Louisiana there’s not much difference.

College kudos

LSU’s Jarell Martin and Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones have squared off against each other in high school and college.

The two former BR area basketball players are together again on the Athlon Sports All-Sophomore preseason third team that was announced Monday.

The 6-foot-10 Jones led Scotlandville to a Class 5A state title as a senior, while Martin (6-9) powered Madison Prep to a Class B crown.

Former Woodlawn High wide receiver Cameron Lazare is expected to see playing time as a true freshman WR in NorthwesternState’s season opener Thursday night against MissouriState in Natchitoches.

Want the basketball connection? Lazare is the younger brother of ex-Woodlawn and LSU basketball player Darnell Lazare.