New Orleans Catholic League

New Orleans Catholic League

The Catholic League (LHSAA district 9-5A in football, 10-5A in other sports) was a high school sports league in the Greater New Orleans area.

The history of the Catholic League can be traced back to 1895, but the first season of the Catholic League as we know it was in 1955. The league is named for having mostly New Orleans' oldest and biggest Catholic schools, though some public schools have played in the league as well.

In 2010, LHSAA enrollment figures dropped Archbishop Shaw High School and St. Augustine High School into class 4A, leaving the district with three Catholic schools which had to be combined with three public schools to form a new district, which may or may not be called the Catholic League.

WLAE-TV 32 in New Orleans announced a documentary named "Glory Days", scheduled to air in fall 2010, which tells the tale of the 1970s, when the Catholic League was regarded as the toughest high school sporting district in America.

The Catholic League was the greatest district in LHSAA history when all sports were taken into account, but the league played their last 22 seasons without winning a football state championship.


2010 Dissolution

The LHSAA passed a rule in 2005 designed to limit schools with low enrollments playing "up" in class, believing that football powers such as John Curtis Christian School and Evangel Christian Academy were using 4A and 5A status, respectively, to attract students to their schools, which were dropped to class 2A as of the 2007 season. The effects of this rule shook up the Catholic League. De La Salle, which became a co-educational school in the 1992-93 school year, dropped out voluntarily after the 2002-2003 school year after being a member of the league since 1955. Archbishop Shaw left the league after 2005, and Holy Cross, with enrollment declining since Katrina, moved down to 4A for 2007 and further down to 3A for 2009. The league, left with four schools and in danger of being combined with a nearby Jefferson Parish public school league, accepted public school and former member Chalmette High School to bring itself back to five schools and remain a standalone league.

Reclassification in 2009 added Archbishop Shaw back into the Catholic League, as their enrollment increased over the 5A threshold. It allowed Chalmette High School to move to a neighboring district of Jefferson Parish public schools where they hoped to be more competitive.

The lingering effects of Katrina and a nationwide recession affected enrollment at St. Augustine and Archbishop Shaw enough to drop the two schools to class 4A in the 2010 reclassification, effective for the fall 2011 school semester. As a result, three 5A Catholic League schools would be left in the New Orleans area. Jesuit principal Michael Giambellaca authored a proposal to call a special LHSAA meeting mainly to vote to allow schools to play above their enrollment classification, but his proposal was defeated.

The new district proposal featured Jesuit, Brother Martin, and Archbishop Rummel combined with the 5A Jefferson Parish Public School athletic district of John Ehret, L.W. Higgins, West Jefferson, Alfred Bonnabel, and Grace King, as well as public school and former Catholic League member Chalmette. There was some debate as to whether the new district could still be called a "Catholic League", but games between the Catholic schools (and former members now in 4A) would still probably be referred to as Catholic League games.

On November 10, 2010, the LHSAA approved the final districts for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years. Brother Martin, Jesuit and Rummel joined a Class 5A district with Chalmette, Grace King and West Jefferson (Grace King will not play a district schedule in football). Bonnabel, John Ehret and Higgins were assigned to a different 5A district with Destrehan, Hahnville and East St. John high schools to the west.

For the 2011 and 2012 football seasons, Rummel will maintain its rivalry games with Holy Cross, St. Augustine and Shaw. Jesuit will play Holy Cross and Shaw, but not St. Augustine, and Brother Martin will only play St. Augustine, continuing the rivalry between the Gentilly schools.

The former members have announced their intentions to reform the league should five schools get back to 5A status. It is conceivable that Shaw and St. Augustine, who only missed 5A status by a few students, and Holy Cross, which completed a new campus in a less storm-damaged Gentilly area, could all be back to 5A (De La Salle is unlikely to ever regain 5A status unless playing up is allowed by the LHSAA), and the Catholic League restarted for the 2013 football season and school year.

Former members

Archbishop Shaw (1963-2005, 2009-2011)

Archbishop Rummel (1963-2011)

Jesuit (1955-2011)

St. Augustine (1967-2011)

Brother Martin (1969-2011)

Holy Cross (1955-2007)

De La Salle (1955-2003)

Redemptorist (1955-1973)

Slidell (public) (1993-1995)

Cor Jesu (1965-1968)

Terrebonne (public) (1964-1965)

Thibodaux (public) (1964-1965)

South Terrebonne (public) (1964-1965)

Holy Name of Mary (1957)

St. Aloysius (1955-1968)

Chalmette (public) (1970-1989, 2007-2009)

NOTE: Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius consolidated after the 1968-69 school year to form Brother Martin.

Football Champions since 1955

Bold indicates that the team won the state championship

Italic indicates that the team was state runner-up.

St. Augustine(15) - 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2010

Archbishop Shaw(14) - 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998

Jesuit(14) - 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1969, 1970, 1981, 1984, 1997, 2004, 2007, 2010

Rummel(13) - 1973, 1974, 1980, 1985, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009

Brother Martin(10) - 1971, 1972, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1992, 2007, 2008

Holy Cross(8) - 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1983, 1995, 2002

De La Salle(4) - 1957, 1961, 1968, 1969

Redemptorist(2) - 1956, 1957

Terrebonne(2) - 1964, 1965 (only public school to win share of Catholic League championship)

St. Aloysius(2) - 1955, 1957

In addition, the following teams have played for the state championship without winning district: 1963: Jesuit, 1978: Jesuit, 1987: Shaw(won state championship), 1989: Brother Martin, 2000: Shaw.

The last Catholic League team to win the state championship was Archbishop Shaw in 1987. Shaw was Class 4A state runner-up three straight years from 2006-2008, albeit not as a member of the Catholic League.

Three state championship games, in 1963 (Holy Cross 13, Jesuit 6), 1971 (Brother Martin 23, St. Augustine 0) and 1978 (St. Augustine 14, Jesuit 7), have been all-Catholic League affairs. Each game drew more than 25,000 fans; the 1978 Jesuit-St. Augustine game drew more than 42,000 in the first state championship game to be contested in the Louisiana Superdome.

Highest classification basketball state champions

Jesuit(8) - 1939, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1964, 1965, 1966, 2001

Brother Martin(6) - 1970, 1971, 1974, 2004, 2005, 2010

St. Aloysius(6) - 1941, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1953

St. Augustine(5) - 1983, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2011

De La Salle(5) - 1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1986

Holy Cross(3) - 1942, 1943, 1945

Archbishop Rummel(2) - 1977, 1978

Archbishop Shaw(2) - 1989, 1997 (2000 championship stripped by LHSAA after use of ineligible players discovered)

Catholic League teams have won 37 of the last 73 state championships in the highest classification

Girls' Catholic League

The following schools were members of a parallel 5A "Catholic League" for girls' sports in the New Orleans area.

Mount Carmel Academy

Archbishop Chapelle


Academy of Our Lady

External links

  • [1] Site focusing on Jesuit-Holy Cross rivalry, the oldest in Louisiana, dating back to 1922
  • [2] Site of the film "Glory Days", chronicling the heyday of the Catholic League in the 1970s

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