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County can take its shots in '03-'04

May 23, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

A week ago, members of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League, the Central Maryland Conference and Clear Spring High School finally got what they wanted.

Now, it's up to them to actually do something positive with it.

On May 15, officials from the CMC gave their blessing to a new 22-team superconference that merges the two old leagues and adds new schools in Carroll County, Frederick County and the Blazers of Washington County.

The league will take the MVAL name and essentially be split into four divisions, based on size and location. The eastern schools will play under the Chesapeake Conference flag; western teams will be part of the Antietam Conference.

When you break it down, it should eventually look something like this:

Chesapeake 1 - Thomas Johnson, Frederick, Urbana, North Carroll, Westminster.

Chesapeake 2 - Century, Francis Scott Key, Winters Mill (opening this fall), Liberty, South Carroll, Linganore.

Antietam 1 - North High, Walkersville, Middletown, Boonsboro, Tuscarora (opening fall 2003).

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Antietam 2 - Clear Spring, South High, Williamsport, Smithsburg, Brunswick, Catoctin.

In the end, many of the same games will be played and the rivalries won't change. However, there's one huge advantage the system presents - each team will have less required games in its league.

The current MVAL requires 18 games to fulfill its double round-robin format for winter and spring sports, leaving just two open dates in the winter and none in the spring for non-tournament competition.

Now the MVAL schools will have the opportunity to schedule some very interesting out-of-conference competition.

Those days of Clear Spring-North High basketball games, in other words, might soon be over.

I know these things might not happen. But, based on these teams' track records over the last six or seven years, can you imagine ...

n North High vs. Martinsburg in boys basketball. You can get that old Tri-State League feeling going again.

n Williamsport vs. Thomas Johnson or Oakland Mills in boys soccer.

n What about a Smithsburg-Greencastle-Chambersburg volleyball tri-match? Or maybe a quick run down to Anne Arundel County to face perennial powerhouse Severna Park?

Programs that want to test their mettle will have the opportunity play the teams they see as good competition simply because they have the chance.

Whether they take advantage of it ... well, that's up to athletic directors and coaches. And in 2003, they can't blame the schedule-maker anymore.

Dan Spears is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2334 or dans@herald-mail.com

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