Evangel’s road to repeating as state champions possibly got tougher.
Instead of facing No. 31 seed Kaplan in the first round, the Eagles could be playing Livonia, a team that was slotted a No. 8 seed before the LHSAA made Livonia 18 games because a player the organization ruled to be ineligible.
The LHSAA was ordered Thursday by the 19th Judicial District Court from prohibiting Livonia from participating in the playoffs Thursday, and the court ordered the LHSAA to put Livonia back into the playoffs even though games started Thursday.
Executive Director Kenny Henderson said because No. 31 Kaplan would have been the team left out of the Class 3A playoffs if Livonia were in, Livonia and Kaplan will play at Kaplan on Saturday with Evangel facing the winner on Monday.
Kaplan was scheduled to play at Evangel on Saturday.
“The court ordered Livonia back into the playoffs,” Henderson said. “We put Livonia where we did because Kaplan would have been the team that didn’t get into the playoffs if Livonia would have been in.
“Once the play-in game and Monday’s game are played, the brackets will be back on track. Our ineligibility ruling still stands with respect to their player, and he won’t be playing.”
Evangel coach Tim Hulett said he was surprised to learn of the change at 5 p.m. Thursday via principal Bud Dean.
“I thought that the situation was taken care of when the brackets were delayed,” Hulett said. “Our expecation was to play a No. 31 seed … so if we do get Livonia, we might have set our pitching up a little bit differently.
“You have to beat good teams in the playoffs, and we will play who we have to play. But if we play Livonia, it will be a different type of game. We haven’t talked to the team yet because they are down supporting our softball girls at state (in Sulphur) … but we’ll have to make sure we’re not just showing up and that we’re focused to play from the beginning.”
The Eagles are the reigning Class 2A champions and return the majority of those players.
Freshman Kolby Johnson was ruled ineligible by the LHSAA on April 23 because of a violation centering around a parental custody change that involved the student moving out of Opelousas Catholic’s attendance zone when he switched residences.
Livonia parents were granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday that delayed the release of the Class 3A brackets, but the court of appeals overturned the restraining order and the LHSAA released their brackets.
That same court overturned itself Thursday afternoon, which resulted in Livonia being placed back in the playoffs.
Livonia self reported the violation and requested an LHSAA investigation, which resulted in the forfeiture of Livonia’s 3A state runner up football trophy along with eight football games and the 18 baseball games.