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Md. superintendents approve playoff expansion

May 21, 2003|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

The MPSSAA announced Monday that its plan to double the number of teams that qualify for the state football playoffs has been approved by the state's superintendents at their monthly meeting in Ocean City, Md.

Under the new plan, which goes into effect for the 2003 season, 16 teams - four per region - will advance to the postseason from each classification.

The first two rounds of playoffs will be played in a regional format, with the region winners advancing to state semifinals.

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Local coaches said that the playoff expansion has been a long time coming.

"You've got open playoffs in all the other sports, but we've been sitting still," said Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff. "I'm really happy we're going to four in each region and getting more teams in, but I don't think that's the best plan."

Orndorff said he'd like to see the state adopt a plan where the four region winners take the top four seeds, followed by the next 12 teams regardless of region.

A bylaw in the MPSSAA handbook dictates that a state tournament shall evolve from a district or regional tournament.

North Hagerstown coach Danny Cunningham is also pleased with expansion, but also says there could be a better plan.

Cunningham pointed to West Virginia, which qualifies the top 16 teams in each classification with no consideration given to region.

"Going on what I have read, their playoff system is pretty solid," Cunningham said. "I'm not big on the region thing, but I'm really excited that 16 teams are getting in.

"It gives a lot of teams another opportunity, especially in (Class) 2A It used to be you'd go 9-1 and barely make the playoffs."

Cunningham said the big step was getting approval on expansion.

"I think the big thing is we have the extra teams in," Cunningham said. "Now they can get the bugs worked out of the system."

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the superintendents passed the plan by a 20-4 vote.

The last time the football playoffs were expanded was in 1985, when the number of qualifying teams per class jumped from four to eight.

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