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It's time for an MVAL refresher course again

December 03, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

Welcome to League Alignment 101.

Was everyone getting familiar with the alignments in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League as they stood for the past two years?

Well, it's time for a refresher course.

By a 2-1 vote, the MVAL has realigned its three conferences for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years in all sports. After discussions between school officials, the final vote approved the changes to be made strictly based on the projected enrollments for 2007-08.

Therefore, the Antietam Conference will be made up of Class 1A teams, the Piedmont Conference will house 2A schools and the Chesapeake Conference will be made up of 3A and 4A schools.

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That means North Hagerstown and South Hagerstown will jump to the Piedmont Conference, joining Middletown, Walkersville, Francis Scott Key, Winters Mill, Century and Liberty.

The Antietam will become a seven-school conference as North and South move out and South Carroll moves in.

The Chesapeake will consist of Thomas Johnson, Linganore, North Carroll, Westminster, Urbana, Tuscarora and Frederick, which moves back to the conference in which it started after two years in the Piedmont.

Changes have always been made in the past, and reasons constantly cited were because of travel. Not much really does change in this alignment when it comes to travel.

"Sometimes we like change," said Smithsburg athletic director Teresa Bachtell. "Now, we have the good and bad by trying something different by enrollment. The MVAL originally was in two ways: First, it was based on travel distance and enrollment, but it was not so in the Antietam. Second, Carroll County was given the priority and got what they wanted."

"My opinion of the switch is that I don't like it for one basic reason and that is having to go to Carroll County four times during the winter and crowds won't be the same," said South Hagerstown athletic director Mike Tesla.

"I don't like the excessive travel time we will have and there will be a tremendous loss of gate receipts," said North Hagerstown AD Marcia Nissel.

Neither Tesla nor Nissel downgrade the competitive aspect of the schedule.

"I have no complaints about the competition," she said. "It will be good. I have no complaints about who is in the league."

Said Tesla: "I fully understand playing the numbers game and that's where we belong by the numbers. We have no qualms about playing in that league."

South Carroll fell short by one student, under the projected enrollment figures, of remaining at 2A. The school was listed with 890 students, giving the Antietam a range down to Clear Spring's 443.

"From a competitive standpoint, we're going to be working with a great group of schools in that regard," said South Carroll athletic director Jim Horn. "From a travel standpoint and gate receipts, it is not the best for my school. Our basic feeling is that this was something done without taking into consideration the kids."

With the realignment now leaving Carroll County schools spread over all three conferences, immediate speculation has those schools eventually bolting from the MVAL after the new two-year structure is completed at the conclusion of the 2008-09 year.

"There are going to be more changes after this one," said Horn. "We have a new school in the northern part of the county that has a timeline of 2010 and it's likely Westminster will drop to 3A and North Carroll to 2A."

Carroll County won't be the only district with a new school. Frederick County has another high school in its future that will draw students from Linganore and Thomas Johnson.

"I think South Carroll really got the shaft," said Tesla.

Tesla said a meeting is scheduled this week to begin hashing out schedules for next year.

Schools in the Antietam will now have to fill four nonconference games for football. There are no guarantees that the Washington County schools remaining in the Antietam will still play North and/or South in what now will be nonconference games.

"It will be difficult coming up with nonconference games in all sports," said Nissel. "It's almost closer to go to Fort Hill and Martinsburg than to Winters Mill."

It's possible that Smithsburg will not schedule either of the city schools in football next season. Smithsburg has already penciled in Poolesville and Northern Garrett, according to Bachtell.

"It's my overall opinion the fairest way is by size," said Bachtell. "I understand it will be difficult for some that have to travel further than what we have. We plan on playing North and South in all the other sports. We've been competitive with South the last two years, but quite frankly, we're not likely to schedule either of them in football.

"If I am getting beat by a 1A school, we just have to work harder. But you just can't import those students that will give you an edge."

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