Meade upset but won't appeal playoff omission Walbrook retains 8th seed on technicality, state rules

November 13, 1997|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

A challenge by Meade High school to replace Walbrook in the Class 4A state football playoffs has apparently ended.

After meeting with Anne Arundel County Superintendent of Schools Carol Parham yesterday, Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) executive director Ned Sparks said nothing has changed and Walbrook is still the 4A playoffs' eighth seed.

The controversy began Monday when Prince George's County's Oxon Hill High was dropped as the playoffs' eighth and final seed because of an ineligible player.

Oxon Hill defeated Meade during the season, so a victory and eight playoff points were added to Meade's total, giving Meade a playoff-points average of 8.1 to Walbrook's 8.0. That meant Meade, not Walbrook, should have been awarded the eighth seed and a quarterfinal game against top-seeded Suitland.

"I listened to Carol Parham's concerns and explained our reasoning, and I feel she understood," said Sparks. "Sometimes you get to a point of no return and have no other choice. We followed our rules, even though it ends up being a bad deal for Meade."

Parham could not be reached for comment. Meade football coach Mark Frye was unhappy with the decision, but said he didn't expect any attempts to seek a court injunction.

"We didn't find out [about the ineligibility question] until Monday morning, and that's what is so bad about this," said Sparks. "Somebody knew about this for a while and didn't come forward until the last minute.

"With all of our games set up, officials scheduled, and all the other logistics, it was too late to do anything but follow the rules."

The specific regulation invoked was the state association's football Rule 11-J, which goes into effect when a tournament is in progress. The tournament technically began Sunday with the announcement of the pairings.

The rule reads: "A wild-card team that is withdrawn will be replaced by the next highest seeded team not already seeded in the tournament."

When playoff organizers closed the books Sunday night -- unaware of the Oxon Hill situation -- Walbrook was the ninth seed, with Meade 11th.

Thus, Walbrook got the final playoff berth.

Sparks said that if the MPSSAA had found out sooner about Oxon Hill, Meade would have gotten the playoff spot.

"It was too late to re-shuffle the deck, which would have also affected the Class 3A seedings, since Oxon Hill lost to Friendly -- and [that] might have left Broadneck out," said Sparks. "How would you have liked to make that call [to Broadneck]?"

Because of seven bonus points (a point each time a team you beat wins) earned from Oxon Hill (7-3), Friendly took top seed in Class 3A.

Refiguring Class 4A would have changed the seedings, with Suitland (loser of bonus points from Oxon Hill) dropping from No. 1 seed to No. 2 and Seneca Valley moving from 2 to 1. The only unchanged game would be No. 5 Sherwood at No. 4 Lake Clifton.

The schedule has No. 1 seed Suitland hosting No. 8 Walbrook, No. 2 Seneca Valley hosting No. 7 Gaithersburg, No. 3 Annapolis hosting No. 6 High Point, and No. 4 Lake Clifton hosting No. 5 Sherwood.

If there had been time to refigure the points, the adjusted seedings would be: 1) Seneca Valley, 2) Suitland, 3) Annapolis, 4) Lake Clifton, 5) Sherwood, 6) Gaithersburg, 7) High Point, and 8) Meade.

Pub Date: 11/13/97

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