Counties ready to play catch-up

Prince George's has plan

Montgomery weighs one


High Schools

October 25, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Prince George's County athletic officials are preparing to lift bans on outdoor practices and move forward with a plan that will allow its football teams to play four games in 12 calendar days in light of the recent arrests in the sniper-related shootings that have disrupted Washington area playing schedules since Oct. 2.

Prince George's County football teams are slated to play on Tuesday; Saturday, Nov. 2; Wednesday, Nov. 6; and Saturday, Nov. 9, said county athletic coordinator Earl Hawkins, adding that "at least two two days of outdoor practices" is a prequisite prior to each game.

"It wouldn't be wise to put the kids into a game situation without them having at least [simulated] live contact outdoors," said Hawkins.

As in Prince George's, Montgomery County football teams have only played five games, having canceled one scheduled contest. But its officials - who, like Prince George's, postponed football games over the weekends of Oct. 11-12 and Oct. 18-19 - still had not decided yesterday when or if its football teams would be able to play four of the remaining five games on their 10-game schedule within the regular season's 14 available days counting today.

"It's a day-to-day thing. We'll have to take a vote of the head coaches of our football teams and make a decision based on that input," said Ed Masood, the county's director of arts, health and physical education."I don't expect a decision on the games at least until [today]."

Montgomery County has been limited to indoor practices since Oct. 7, and Masood said it is unclear when or if that will change today. Masood said the decision would include, among other things, "the availability to have full, outdoor practices and the conditioning of the kids."

Hawkins said his football teams have had nine indoor practices since Oct. 2.

Unlike the state's soccer and field hockey regionals and the golf tournaments, the football playoffs are not likely to be pushed back, said Ned Sparks, executive secretary of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

The plan would allow Prince George's to complete the state-mandated minimum of nine games required to be eligible for the Nov. 15-16 playoffs.

"If they were to do that [four games], they would certainly be within the rules, and neither the dates or the general playoff format would be affected," Sparks said. "Our regulations would allow for [Prince George's] to play an extra game in a week as a makeup."

Football playoff teams are chosen through an elaborate point system based on the completion of a 10-game schedule. But state football chairman John Cox said he is prepared to come up with "a fair and easy" system based on a nine-game schedule that would include the teams from two of the state's two largest counties.

"The nine-game scoring format is mathematically fair in that it equates with the 10-game formula. If you add up the numbers, it works out the same way," said Cox.

In the event that football teams affected by the sniper are unable to attain the minimum of nine games, Sparks has said he would try to find an "equitable way" under which they still could participate.

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