A playoff solution: six classifications

Plan to expand postseason to 48 teams passes 1st leg


High Schools

October 01, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Calvert's football team had just won, 48-0, to run its record to 8-1, but coach Brad Criss still had to tell his players last year that their season was over.

"With a team that good, we should have had the right to go on to the playoffs," Criss said.

Calvert, the 2000 state Class 3A champion, missed the playoffs because earlier in the season it had lost by a touchdown in the final two minutes to Patuxent, a team that eventually lost to Urbana, 7-6, in the title game.

Under a proposal approved Thursday by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's state football committee, Calvert's 2001 season might have continued.

The recommendation calls for raising the number of football classifications from four to six, and expanding from 32 to 48 the number of teams that would qualify. According to a copy of the proposal faxed by the MPSSAA, the top eight teams in each of the six classifications, based on the state's present point system, would qualify for the playoffs. Each classification would be comprised of 28 or 29 teams.

Schools with the largest enrollment would compete in the 6A, and those with the smallest in 1A.

The state Board of Control, which is comprised of athletic directors, principals, coaches and district chairmen, will vote on the proposal at its Dec. 7 meeting.

If passed there, the plan must be approved by the local superintendents, who meet monthly, said MPSSAA executive secretary Ned Sparks.

"The approval of the state football committee just puts the wheels in motion, meaning it still needs to be approved by the board and the superintendents before it can go into operation," Sparks said. "A lot of different groups of people will have an opportunity to discuss it in the coming months so that an intelligent vote can be taken in December and then taken to the superintendents."

Sparks said the proposal will be reviewed by the state finance committee, which will convene "sometime in November," before going before the Board of Control.

"I would caution people that this is a proposal with many significant hurdles to cross," Sparks said.

Of concern to some, said Montgomery County coordinator of athletics Duke Beattie, are issues of equity, fairness and finance.

"Some people will say you're setting a precedent by having six champions when soccer and field hockey have four champions," said Beattie, a Board of Control member.

"I don't know the statistics, but there've been a lot of first-round mismatches, and some early-round games didn't generate enough money for people who worked the games to be paid. The total monies that the state makes, that'll be a topic when the state financial committee sits down and peels back the many, many layers of expenses."

The football committee has tried in the past to come up with ideas that would give more teams a chance to play in the playoffs. Over the years, many teams have gone 9-1 and 8-2 but did not qualify. The state has open tournaments, in which all teams qualify, in most other sports.

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