With select football title games on horizon, LSA continues to try to unite LHSAA

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NEW ORLEANS – J.P. Kelly will wear two hats this week.

As athletic director at Catholic High, his school will play in the Division I state championship game for the third straight year when it meets Archbishop Rummel Friday night at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.

As the CEO of the newly formed Louisiana Select Association, he oversees the group established to help select schools run state championships in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball.

“It’s kind of disappointing we have to talk about athletics in terms of select and non-select,” Kelly said Tuesday at the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club presented by Home Bank at Rock ‘n’ Bowl.

The LSA’s primary goal, Kelly said multiple times, remains to bring the LHSAA back together.

“What the select schools are trying to do,” Kelly said, “is tell the LHSAA that nine championships in football and 12 championships in (basketball, baseball and softball) are too many. I don’t think that helps with competition in our state.”

LHSAA members voted in January to allow select schools to hold championship events in the five split sports at separate venues from the non-select championships.

“In order to organize that,” Kelly said, “the LSA was formed.”

That said, “I think that getting organized earlier would have helped,” Kelly added. “In January, when the decision was made, there was really no action until May.”

Kelly was voted CEO at a meeting in July.

As for the football championship games, the Division I, II and III matchups will be played this weekend at three different locations – Yulman, St. Thomas More High School and UL Lafayette’s Cajun Field. The Division IV game will be played as part of the Allstate Sugar Bowl LHSAA Prep Classic Dec. 13-14 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the LHSAA announced on Monday.

“It doesn’t matter where you play,” said St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica, whose team meets Lafayette Christian Saturday night in the Division III final at Cajun Field. “People are coming.”

Added De La Salle coach Ryan Manale, whose Cavaliers travel to St. Thomas More for the Division II final Friday night: “Once that ball kicks off, it’s football.”

What are the plans for championship events for the other four sports impacted by the split?

“Ultimately,” Kelly said, “I hope that in January, the association gets back together, and we create an avenue where (basketball, baseball and softball) are back together in 2020.

“If not, we want to work in collaboration with the LHSAA to try to find venues earlier and plans are solidified well in advance.”

For now though, state championship games in Louisiana will be played at more than one site for the first time since 1980. And the opinions on whether it is good or bad for high school football in the state are about as split as the championships themselves.

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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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