Carroll-Frederick athletic association should prove palatable

EXTRA INNINGS

June 21, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht

No one can please all of the people all of the time.

But once the county's high school athletic program begins to formalize its association with Carroll and Frederick counties next spring, most of the affected parties should be pleased.

Beginning next spring, the county's high school teams will schedule the bulk of their out-of-county games with their northern and western neighbors. With few exceptions, the county eventually will play non-league contests exclusively against Carroll and Frederick schools.

Few ideas work for everyone, and this one is no different.

The thought of forming an alliance of sorts with Carroll and Frederick -- and dropping games against teams from the greater Baltimore area -- does not sit well with some coaches.

For the most part, these are coaches who run elite programs. Like Terry Coleman, who has operated one of the state's more notable baseball programs at Glenelg High School over the last 15 years.

Part of the reason the Gladiators have been able to win five county titles and a state crown under Coleman is the strength of their non-league schedule. Glenelg has tuned up for each county season in the last decade by playing Gilman, Loyola and Calvert Hall, excellent baseball schools that happen to be private-school members of the Maryland Scholastic Association.

Next year, Coleman's strong ties to the MSA will be severed. Glenelg will play non-league games against North Carroll and South Carroll (Carroll County) and Thomas Johnson and Frederick (Frederick County). Coleman is understandably miffed by the change.

Other coaches are feeling a pinch, although not as sharply as Coleman.

Mount Hebron girls lacrosse coach P.J. Kesmodel, who already has enough trouble digging up good out-of-county opponents to play his powerhouse team, will be forced to play three Carroll County teams next spring. Carroll teams have offered Hebron little competition in the past, and Kesmodel justifiably envisions three more routs as useless to his program. At least he gets to play two ranked opponents in Seton-Keough and St. Mary's, each of which is a member of Baltimore's Association of Independent Schools league.

Hebron boys lacrosse coach Warren Michael is in a similar position. His team has been the class of the county for most of the past five years and has won two state titles. And a big reason for that dominance has been Hebron's tough, non-league schedule, which has included perennial MSA powers like St. Paul's and Mount St. Joe and Harford County kingpins like C.M. Wright and North Harford. That will be altered next year, although the Vikings still get to face St. Paul's and North Harford during the regular season.

The changes potentially carry unfavorable implications for other

top programs, like Mount Hebron's girls basketball team, Hammond's girls soccer team and Centennial's boys soccer team, just to name a few. All of these programs figure to lose some proven opponents from the Baltimore area and beyond.

Don Disney, the coordinator of athletics who has pushed for the scheduling change for several years, has said he will allow some teams, like Kesmodel's and Michael's, to play "one or two" choice non-league games. This will help them maintain the competitive edge they have spent years cultivating. A deft, compromising stroke by Disney.

But Disney's overall message is clear: Get used to driving north and west, folks.

And let's face it. Except for the absurd notion that the alliance will save transportation costs -- try driving to any school in Carroll or Frederick in less than 45 minutes, with the exception of Liberty High (Carroll) -- the idea of a Carroll-Frederick association makes sense.

The ties between the three counties have been solidifying for years, anyway. Throughout the school year, the county schedule is replete with games against Carroll and Frederick. The majority of county teams will look at the new schedule as business as usual.

Scheduling also will be easier for athletic directors. No longer, for example, will Wilde Lake's Carol Satterwhite have to scramble to find non-league teams to play her Class 1A school, which yields the fewest playoff qualifying points and doesn't attract much attention for that reason. No longer will athletic directors worry about rescheduling postponed games against private schools, which are under no obligation to make up games, like public schools are.

Then there are the games themselves. Carroll and Frederick counties are home to some fine, established programs. That should open the door to some great rivalries.

The boys basketball teams from Oakland Mills and Thomas Johnson already have a terrific duel going. The same goes for the football teams from Oakland Mills and Linganore (Frederick).

Who is to say the same thing can't happen between, say, the girls basketball teams from Hebron and Linganore? Both have won state crowns. That could make for an exciting December matchup for years to come. Or how about Centennial and defending state-champion North Carroll in softball? Or Glenelg and Thomas Johnson, two past state titlists, in baseball?

The list of potentially great games is endless.

Then again, once everyone gets used to these changes -- which are not written in stone -- the county's sports landscape will go through more dramatic change. The county's ninth high school is scheduled to open in 1994. Within five years, the county will probably add a 10th school. That will add more league games to everyone's schedule, while taking away non-league games from everyone.

That scenario will be addressed in due time. For now, the county should look forward to an association that, while not perfect, should keep most people happy most of the time.

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