Cinderellas have multiple chances to crash LHSAA ball

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Steveland Williams
Steveland Williams and McDonogh 35 will try to end the Cinderella run of No. 23 seed Jennings in the Class 3A semifinals.

They are the stories people love – the team making an unexpected run through a tournament bracket.

As the five non-select brackets reach the semifinal round of the LHSAA football playoffs, just one step away from the Prep Classic Dec. 13-14 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, four of the 20 remaining teams are double-digit seeds.

The 2019 football season marks the 20th anniversary of the power rating system bring used to establish the brackets for each classification/division, which was first used in the fall of 1999. Since then, a total of 19 double-digit seeds – an average of just less than one per year – has reached the Dome.

For this year’s versions of Cinderella to get to the dance, they will have to win on the road Friday night. (Since 2015, the higher seed is at home in the semifinals, no matter which team has played fewer home games in the playoffs.)

In Class 5A, 11th-seeded Haughton makes the long trek from northwest Louisiana to St. Charles Parish to face No. 7 seed Destrehan.

In Class 4A, No. 20 seed Warren Easton heads across the lake to take on top-seeded Lakeshore.

And in Class 3A, two double-digit seeds remain – No. 12 Union Parish, which heads to Vacherie to face top-seeded St. James, and No. 23 Jennings, which has an eastbound trip on I-10 to take on No. 6 seed McDonogh 35 at Pan American Stadium.

If the Farmers and Bulldogs can go on the road and pick up wins, it would be only the second-ever championship game matchup of double-digit seeds – No. 12 Belle Chasse defeated No. 15 Archbishop Shaw for the 2008 Class 4A title.

Why do double-digit seeds make these magical runs? Every instance has its own story.

There is the case of Acadiana in 2010 – at No. 27 in the Class 5A bracket, the highest seed ever to play for, and win, a state title. The Wreckin’ Rams were 9-1 on the field in the regular season, but forfeited four games for the use of an ineligible player and was seeded as a .500 team.

In 2015, St. James was seeded 15th in Class 3A, but got star quarterback Lowell Narcisse back in time for the playoffs, when the Wildcats made a run to the Dome before losing to parish rival Lutcher in the finals.

Sometimes, the best player just takes over – like Pooka Williams of Hahnville, who rushed for 1,173 yards and 13 touchdowns in four playoff wins in 2017 to carry the 10th-seeded Tigers to the 5A title game.

Never have more than two double-digit seeds reached the Dome in one year. Could this be the year of Cinderella?

Double-Digit Seeds in State Championship Games

Class 5A

2017    (4) Zachary def (10) Hahnville 34-14

2010    (27) Acadiana def (4) West Monroe 21-14

2007    (1) Destrehan def (14) Acadiana 41-21

2006    (6) Acadiana def (13) Sulphur 13-10

2003    (5) Hahnville def (10) Evangel 41-35

2002    (1) Evangel def (10) West Monroe 35-4

Class 4A

2015    (1) Neville def (14) Edna Karr 45-26

2008    (12) Belle Chasse def (15) Archbishop Shaw 28-7

1999    (1) John Curtis def (15) Capitol 16-0

Class 3A

2015    (1) Lutcher def (15) St. James 41-14

2003    (15) Lutcher def (4) Notre Dame 15-7

2002    (2) Redemptorist def (17) Patterson 31-19

1999    (1) Amite def (11) Edna Karr 41-7

Class 2A

2005    (2) John Curtis def (13) St. Charles Catholic 31-6

2004    (4) West St. John def (10) St. Helena 46-2

Class 1A

2010    (15) White Castle def (9) Ouachita Christian 32-20

2007    (3) South Plaquemines def (13) West St. John 48-8

(Note: No double-digit seeds in select divisions have reached a championship game.)

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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