Polling the area's teeth

January 31, 2002

Polling the area's teeth

By Dan Spears

For many of the Tri-State's high school sports fans (and coaches), it's all they want to talk about when they see me at a game or call me on the phone to give me a score.

Or when I'm at Wal-Mart.

"So how good is (insert team here)? They're ranked ahead of us in your Top 10, but we've got a better record than them. What's the deal?"

Many times, it's someone from one of the Tri-State's smaller schools, talking about one of the area's enrollment giants. Small School A is beating the beejeezus out of everyone and has a very good record, while Big School B is above .500, but has chinks in the armor because it's playing even bigger and/or better teams from down the road.

It's a tough little situation to handle, like walking into the North High 1-3-1 halfcourt trap, if you will.


For example, why is Southern Fulton No. 8 in the boys poll, even though the Indians have the third-best winning percentage in the Tri-State at 17-2? St. Maria Goretti - with eight losses - is one spot in front of them. Why?

This does not mean that the Indians "get no respect." Goretti plays a quality schedule, gives teams a run for their money in its losses and takes home a few scalps along the way.

True, Southern Fulton doesn't get as many opportunities to play big names. The Tussey Mountains of the world only show up on the doorstep a couple of times for a Class A school in Pennsylvania.

So when the Indians get a huge win, only to follow it up with a loss, things get negated. Granted, a loss this year to Hancock is not the wrinkle-your-nose-at-the-spinach bad loss as it has been in other years.

But does it compare to a close loss to, say, Brunswick? Not yet.

The other part of the argument is, "If a small school did play in a bigger league, could it compete?"

I've seen many of the teams in the area this year personally. And as a staff, we talk about games in the office on a nightly basis - who stacks up with who, if this team played that team it would be a great game, etc.

And for the most part, many of the smaller schools can play. Could they win a league title? Maybe not. Could they win in a one- or several-game situation? Absolutely.

Put Southern Fulton's girls in the MVAL, and they wouldn't be near the bottom despite having one-third the enrollment of Smithsburg, the league's smallest school. Put South High boys in the CMC, even with 300 less students, and see how they fare. Put Goretti boys in the Mid Penn Commonwealth with Chambersburg ... the list goes on and on.

That's how the process works. And with three different states worth of teams (and their league and state scheduling regulations) to play with, the job becomes much more interesting.

And much more fun. Even if I have to explain it to you at Wal-Mart.

Dan Spears is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2334 or by e-mail at

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