Ned Sparks, the executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, said the committee was sensitive to those concerns. But he said moving up the start date of practices with little notice was not feasible and moving back the start of the regular season would have been difficult, too.
Ultimately, the group found no scientific evidence that decreased practice time would result in more injuries and decided to keep the same time frame for the fall season. Sparks said the MPSSAA will re-examine the timeline before next fall.
In the long run, coaches worry the changes could hurt the overall quality of football in state public schools and, in turn, the ability for players to earn college scholarships.
Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish previously spent much of the first week of practice focusing on fundamentals, preaching the correct way to tackle and absorb a hit.
Instead, the Pumas will have four full-contact practice sessions before their opening scrimmage next Tuesday and then another scrimmage two days later.
Mencarini — the 2011 All-Met Coach of the Year — said junior varsity teams will be the most effected in the interim, a product of the lost practice time for the less experienced players that need it most.
“Everyone’s always talking about equity, equity, equity,” Seneca Valley Coach Fred Kim said. “This is hugely inequitable to football players in the state of Maryland. We don’t have spring football, so we’re already behind the eight ball, and now you add in this.”
The new model challenges coaches to be more organized and economical with their practice time, especially those trying to build a program.
First-year Magruder Coach Kevin Bernot, who spent the past three seasons at Rockville, will focus on getting a few base plays installed right away, so the team can participate in Monday’s tri-scrimmage with Wheaton and Bethesda-Chevy Chase. He said he hopes to have the full offense in place by the third week of the regular season.
“We’re all in the same boat,” McDonough Coach Luke Ethington said. “It’s not like one county is doing it, and another isn’t. Everybody’s going to be making some adjustments. Welcome to the world of coaching. That’s what it’s all about.”