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Maryland football playoffs may swell at the beach

April 25, 2003|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

The MPSSAA Board of Control will vote today at its meeting in Ocean City, Md., on a proposal to double the number of teams that qualify for the state football playoffs, thereby adding one week to the end of the football season.

The proposal would increase the number of teams that make the postseason from each of the state's four enrollment classifications from eight to 16, with the first two rounds of playoffs being played as a regional tournament.

Yogi Martin, Supervisor of Athletics and Physical Education for Washington County, and North Hagerstown principal Bo Myers represent the county on the 66-member voting panel. Martin said he and Myers will vote for the proposal.

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"I've gone full circle on this," Martin said. "I was not comfortable with going further into December with the season and extending into the basketball season. But I guess the more I looked at it, it made all the sense in the world."

Under the plan, the top four teams in each region will qualify for the postseason, with the top two seeds hosting first-round games. The quarterfinal game would be played at the highest remaining seed.

South Hagerstown was the only area team to make the Class 1A playoffs last season. Under this proposal, Boonsboro and Catoctin would also have qualified.

Several other scenarios for playoff expansion had been discussed for nearly two years, including reducing the schedule to nine games and breaking schools into six classifications rather than four. In January, the state football committee attached its support to the plan which will be voted on today.

Martin said he thinks it is the plan that makes the most sense.

"There are a lot of pluses to this plan," Martin said. "The regional playoff games will be played close by, they'll be playing possibly against rival schools and the number of teams involved increases."

The (Baltimore) Sun reported Thursday that the plan is expected to pass the Board of Control today. The plan will then be sent to the state superintendents, who will vote on the proposal in May.

If approved, the expanded playoffs will go into effect for the 2003 season.

Martin stopped short of saying the plan will pass, but he said he has received mostly positive feedback.

"Nearly everyone I've talked to looks at this as favorable," Martin said.

Two other issues that are expected to be discussed before the board involve the pole vault and the state wrestling tournament.

The pole vault was eliminated as a scoring event from the regional and state meets this year after it was determined the size of many of the vault pits in the state did not meet new National Federation of High School standards.

Martin said he did not know if a vote would be taken on the fate of the event, but he expected "profitable discussion" on the issue.

The state wrestling committee is looking to make the state tournament a full double elimination event. Martin said a larger venue - the tournament is held at McDaniel College in Westminster - would be needed in order to expand the state tournament.

"With the numbers, the interest and the upstage in participation in wrestling, we've definitely outgrown McDaniel," Martin said. "I think everyone realizes that."

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