Clear Spring leaves MVAL in football

November 12, 2008|By MARK KELLER

The Monocacy Valley Athletic League has granted a request to allow Clear Spring High School to pull its football team out of the conference for two years in order to stabilize the program.

Clear Spring athletic director Lisa Shives said the school made a formal request to the league during football season, which ended on Friday. She was informed of the decision during a meeting of the league's athletic directors on Monday.

"Our reason for getting out is so we have a chance to build our program," Shives said. "My gut feeling was if everyone had the best interests of the kids in mind that it would pass. I'm pleased that they did go ahead and pass that for us."

Clear Spring joined the MVAL in 2003, when the league merged with the Central Maryland Conference. That was the same year Clear Spring launched its football program.


The Blazers played a junior varsity schedule for one season, then moved to a full varsity schedule in 2004.

Clear Spring -- the smallest school in the MVAL -- has won just three games in five seasons overall and has yet to win a conference game, going 0-31. The Blazers have scored just eight points in their last 10 MVAL games.

"It is a tough sell as coaches," Clear Spring coach Craig Bathgate said. "We go into those games against the Boonsboros and Smithsburgs, 20 kids on the sideline and four or five with bad ankles. We're playing ironman football with these teams who have 40 or 50 kids on them."

Clear Spring will take the same approach Hancock uses when filling their schedule, finding schools with comparable enrollments to help the football team become more competitive, Shives said.

"We'd like to play schools that have competitive programs and small sizes," Bathgate said. "We have 500 from ninth grade to 11th and you're pulling kids for all the sports and the band and there aren't many left.

"You need numbers to play MVAL schools."

Shives said Clear Spring will still play some Washington County schools, though she did not indicate which ones.

Hancock seems to be a given, as two of the Blazers' three wins have come against the Panthers and most of their meetings have been competitive.

"Playing against Hancock, the kids learned a lot," Bathgate said. "They played competitive, they see how things work and they have a chance to win. Sometimes you don't understand how much kids learn in those situations."

ยท The league also will realign its football divisions in 2009, going to a county-based setup.

Boonsboro, North Hagerstown, Smithsburg, South Hagerstown and Williamsport will make up the Washington County division.

Frederick County will be broken into two divisions, with Frederick, Linganore, Thomas Johnson, Tuscarora and Urbana in a big school division and Brunswick, Catoctin, Middletown and Walkersville in a small school division. Oakdale will be added to the small school division when it opens in 2010.

Century, Francis Scott Key, Liberty, Manchester Valley, North Carroll, South Carroll, Westminster and Winters Mill will make up the Carroll County division.

Staff writer Bob Parasiliti also contributed to this story.

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