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Louisiana prep association strips Baton Rouge Catholic High of multiple state championships

An investigation this spring into the Baton Rouge Catholic powerhouse football program has resulted in the lost of multiple state football championships and runners-up finishes for the Bears' program.

The state of Louisiana's governing body for high school athletics has stripped a prep powerhouse of a pair of state football championships and two additional runners-up finishes, it was revealed on Monday.

The Louisiana High School Athletics Association earlier this spring launched an investigation into the football program at prestigious Baton Rouge powerhouse Catholic High School.

In a decision rendered last month to the school but only revealed this week, the LHSAA stripped the Bears of both their 2017 and 2020 Division I LHSAA crowns.

“In March of 2021, the LHSAA informed Catholic High School that it was under investigation regarding alleged violations within the school’s football program that potentially occurred in 2017,” Catholic High School Athletic Director Ben DiPalma said in a statement first shared by WAFB-TV Baton Rouge. “Catholic High School administrators worked diligently with the LHSAA to aid them in their investigation in whatever way possible.

“The investigation concluded in May. It was determined that Catholic High School’s 2017 and 2020 State Titles, and the 2018 and 2019 State Runner-up titles would be revoked.”

Earlier this year, in February and on the heels of his program's second on-field championship in four seasons, Catholic head coach Gabriel Fertitta resigned his post atop the Bears' program and accepted an off-the-field position under Louisville Cardinals head coach Scott Satterfield.

“It would be nice if opportunities gave you some advance notice,” Fertitta told The Advocate (Baton Rouge) in February at the time of his exit from the program he turned in short order into a feared powerhouse. “Sometimes, they come at you very fast. And that was what happened with this one.”

Fertitta in four years atop the Bears' program posted a 43-8 ledger; his squads played for state championships in each of his four seasons.

Baton Rouge TV station WAFB reported that it had spoken with LHSAA President Eddie Bonine and that Bonine informed the station that Catholic had accepted the penalties and had indicated the school would not appeal the forfeiture of its titles. No other details of the probe or its resulting punishment were released by the LHSAA.

In March, Catholic High School hired David Simoneaux as Fertitta's replacement. Simoneaux previously was head coach at Point Coupee (La.) Catholic High School.

The LHSAA indicated, per WAFB, that Simoneaux's Catholic program is not expected to incur any additional penalties as it moves forward into the 2021 season.