The Green Wave team and their followers are anxiously awaiting big news here Sunday morning.
Officials with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association will conclude their meetings and announce at 11 a.m. the playoff schedule for the state’s top 32 Division 5A high school football teams, and Ponchatoula is expected to be prominent in the LHSAA’s plan. As of Friday the Greenies were No. 9 in the state, according to MaxPrep rankings, and Coach Hank Tierney said his team had a No. 6 power ranking among the 5A schools.
Tierney said because of Ponchatoula’s high rankings, it’s likely the playoffs will begin Friday with the Green Wave scheduled for a home game at the Swamp.
The Green Wave finished the season at the top of District 6-5A with the only undefeated record in the district. All other district schools had one or more losses.
Ponchatoula started the season with a tough 48-28 non-district loss to Brother Martin. The game was tied at 28-28, but the Greenies were unable to hold off Martin, which is ranked No. 1 among New Orleans city schools.
Tierney’s Green Wave then came back with six straight wins – 42-34 over Covington, 48-14 over Northshore, 17-14 over Mandeville, 48-14 over Slidell, 49-14 over Fountainbleau and 35-28 over St. Paul. The final regular season game, which was scheduled for Friday against Tangipahoa rival Hammond High, was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Tierney said. “They really are one of the best teams I’ve had here.”
The coach said he could not single out the performance of any one player but does point out that the team had just four seniors among the starters and the younger players have taken over leadership roles.
The Green Wave hope to become just the second football team in the school’s history to win a state championship. According to LHSAA records, the last team to accomplish the task was the 1940 squad, which was recognized as the state’s Class A champion, along with New Orleans Jesuit in Class AA and Arcadia of Bienville in Class B. No other state football championship has ever been won by a public school from the southern end of Tangpahoa parish since Hammond High took the championship in 1970.
The 2020 season was Tierney’s 10th at Ponchatoula, having started as an assistant and then moved up to head coach. Up until this year his best Green Wave teams have usually been considered his 2014 squad that finished the regular season 10-0 and made it to the second round of the state playoffs and his 2015 team which finished 7-3 and managed to upset heavily favored West Monroe before elimination.
Prior to arriving at Ponchatoula in 2011, Tierney coached at West Jefferson for six years and at Archbishop Shaw for 19 years.
According to LHSAA records, Tierney entered the 2020 as the state’s all-time 10th winningest coach with 281 victories.