Idea for expanding playoffs getting boost in Annapolis 9-week season, 64 teams in field being proposed

March 06, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Allegany County School Superintendent John O'Connell will push a proposal to expand the state high school football playoffs at a meeting in Annapolis today of the Public School Superintendents Association.

O'Connell will seek the support of his fellow superintendents for a proposal that would shrink the regular season to nine weeks, and expand the playoffs to four weeks.

The expanded playoffs would include 64 teams, instead of 32.

"Two years ago, a proposal to expand to 64 teams was rejected by the [Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's policy-making] Board of Control because it would have required an extra week to complete the season," O'Connell said. "This proposal addresses that concern."

O'Connell believes the main objection to his proposal will come from schools that might lose revenue by not playing a 10th game.

"But teams that midway through the season look as though they won't make the playoffs can always schedule a game with another team that is also not going to make it," O'Connell said. "And for teams that make the playoffs, this proposal will allow them to split the gate receipts from their first playoff game."

Wilde Lake High football coach Doug DuVall, whose Wildecats were state Class 3A champions last fall, is not optimistic.

"But I think it would work," DuVall said. "And it would be good to expand [the playoff field], because it is very hard to go X-2 and sit home. This year, Damascus and Wheaton both sat home with 8-2 records, and they may have been the best Class 3A teams."

The playoffs operate on a point system that awards eight points for a victory over a Class 4A opponent, seven for beating a Class 3A opponent, six for defeating a Class 2A opponent and five for beating a Class 1A opponent. Bonus points are awarded for victories recorded by each defeated opponent.

If Wilde Lake had lost one game last season, it might not have made the playoffs, because it is the only Class 3A Howard County school and plays a nine-game Class 1A-2A league schedule.

"If a superintendent presents the proposal and has the support of the other superintendents, then they'll probably give it more credibility," DuVall said.

Ned Sparks, MPSSAA's executive director, said the proposal two years ago "was dismissed fairly early in that committee's deliberations. But who knows? Maybe there's a different attitude now."

John Cox, that nine-person committee's chairman, said the committee's recommendation to the Board of Control not to rTC expand reflected the views expressed in an extensive survey of principals, athletic supervisors, athletic directors, fall coaches and winter coaches. About 70 percent of that group rejected the nine-game season proposal, he said.

"It's a tough issue. We have open tournaments in most sports, so the football coaches are looking to get more teams in the playoffs," Cox said.

Pub Date: 3/06/98

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