Aberdeen and Fallston will face some new foes on the athletic fieldsif they earn regional playoff berths this year.
Both schools havebeen reclassified by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Aberdeen moves up to Class 3A, while Fallston drops to Class 1A.
Every two years, the MPSSAA reclassifies all schools based on enrollment.
Using enrollment figures for 1990's ninth through 11th grades, schools were listed in order of population and broken down intofour groups, 1A through 4A, said Ned Sparks, executive secretary forthe MPSSAA.
Class 4A contains schools with enrollments of 1,041 or more in grades 10 through 12 this year. Class 3A includes enrollments between 819 and 1,036. Class 2A schools have 616 to 818. Class 1A schools have 614 or fewer.
The state athletic association has divided member schools into classes for state championships since 1947, when competition resumed after World War II.
"It's just to make more equitable competition for the schools involved," said Sparks. "A school that has over 2,000 students will have quite an advantage when competing against other smaller schools."
The largest of the state's 150 schools, Eleanor Roosevelt of Prince Georges County, has 1,839 students in grades 10 through 12 this year. The smallest, Oldtown of Allegany County, has 64.
Aberdeen, with 828, goes from the largestClass 2A school to the second-smallest Class 3A school. Fallston, with 537, is the eighth-largest of the Class 1A schools.
For most ofthe season, Aberdeen and Fallston will not notice the change, because they will continue to play in the Harford County league. But once ateam qualifies for the regional playoffs, it will see some new competition.
The Eagles will be most affected in sports like wrestling,girls soccer and boys and girls lacrosse, because the state divides those into only two classes. Since fewer schools field teams in thosesports, state titles are awarded in Class 1A/2A and Class 3A/4A.
Aberdeen will compete against the largest schools in the state ratherthan the smallest.
The wrestling program will face the biggest adjustment, said school athletic director George Connolly. The Eagles have won three consecutive state titles in Class 1A/2A.
"That's going to be a big step up," said Connolly. "We're going to be wrestling against some bigger schools, and they'll offer some tough competition."
In football, the Eagles could continue their rivalry with C. Mil
ton Wright right into the regional playoffs. Bel Air is also in the regional along with seven Baltimore County schools.
Since Fallston is dropping down, the Cougars may gain ground. Athletic DirectorDave Cesky expects to see more Cougar teams in the playoffs in Class1A.
Cesky said he has high hopes for his Cougar football team making the playoffs. Last fall, Edgewood and Aberdeen had 8-2 records but missed the Class 2A playoffs. Rising Sun was 5-5 and advanced in Class 1A.
The girls teams, many of which have been among the strongest in the county, could win more playoff spots in sports like softball and basketball. There may be one team standing in their way, however, because Fallston dropped into the same region as archrival Joppatowne.
The Cougars' new region also includes Havre de Grace and Harford Vo-Tech as well as Cecil County's Bohemia Manor, Rising Sun and Perryville and Kent County High.
One problem Cesky may face in Class 1A is scheduling. Teams earn the most points toward qualifying for the playoffs for beating a Class 4A school and the least for
beating a Class 1A school, so some coaches may be reluctant to schedule the Cougars.
"Our best teams might have a real problem with scheduling," explained Cesky. "Who's going to want to play our field hockey team (three-time state champs) if they can only get a few points if they win, and they're probably going to lose?"