Evangel football coach Phillip Deas and Loyola assistant principal for athletics Tom Tallach both received the news in text messages.
Proposition 18 passed in a Friday-morning vote at the annual LHSAA executive committee meetings in Baton Rouge.
Deas and Tallach had the same response — disappointment.
The proposition requires football playoff brackets to separate select and non-select schools.
“We expected it to pass unless the LHSAA tabled it for another year,” Deas said. “So, we aren’t shocked or surprised. We will have to look and reevaluate and see exactly what it means for us moving forward. There will be a lot of talk about it and a lot more information coming out in the next few days.”
For many public school, or non-select, coaches, the move is good news.
“It was inevitable for something to change,” said North Webster coach John Ware, who led his team to the second round of the playoffs last season before losing to John Curtis, a select school, 50-6.
“We’ve been dealing with this for some time,” Ware said. “I really think this is good for everybody. Now you will be going into the playoffs knowing you will be going against people who are doing the same thing you are. I have nothing against private schools, don’t have any problems with them, but this is the fairest way to do it.”
The separation will begin in the 2013-14 school year and will apply to football only. Select schools are those with admission policies, including private, magnet, laboratory, dual-curriculum and charter schools.
The select teams will have two brackets, split into 1-2A and 3-5A. Non-select schools will still have separate brackets for each classification.
“No one has a crystal ball, so you don’t know exactly how it will change things, but we’re disappointed that it happened,” Tallach said. “In terms of all of the rippling effects of this thing, we just don’t know yet.”
There are four area schools that will fall into the select classification — any school with more than 25 percent of its students from outside of its designated attendance zone qualifies — Byrd, Calvary, Evangel and Loyola.
“The discussion was passionate on both sides,” said Calvary football coach John Bachman Sr., who was in Baton Rouge for the vote. “We’re going to go back, sit down at the school, and talk about all of the ramifications for us and make a decision about what we are going to do. There are so many unknowns right now.
“I feel like I just got hit in a boxing match, taking one on the chin.”
Byrd coach Mike Suggs was also present for the debate and vote Friday morning.
“We were against it and don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Suggs said. “But it is what it is. It passed, and we’re going to play where they tell us to play.
“But, from a 5A perspective, if you’re good enough to win a 5A state championship, you should be good enough to line up and play against anyone in the state.”
Many of those in favor of proposition 18 used the term “level playing field.” Evangel and John Curtis have dominated their competition at all levels for more than a decade.
“You look over the last few decades and see the number of championships that have been won, it’s definitely will draw some attention,” Deas said.
“All I know is that we have to do the best job that we can do. Fortunately for the past few decades, we’ve been able to put some good teams together and have some success. Hopefully that will continue on, no matter what direction everything goes.”
In the opinions of public school coaches and officials, however, something had to change.
“Nothing happens until something moves,” Green Oaks principal Marvin Alexander said.
“It’s time for it to move. It’s been going on for decades. This thing just got further and further out of control with these private schools. For example, in Shreveport at Evangel, they have 387 students, but 265 are athletes. You know, that’s just not fair.
“I think the public school people have been emailing each other across the state, and we just came to an agreement that it’s time to stand for a change.”