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Prep Is Too Good For Its Conference

"The question was raised, is it true Georgetown Prep is gunning for The Post's Top 20 [ranking] or for the Gonzaga matchup, instead of aiming to compete in the IAC?" Farquhar said. "You also have to ask yourself: Who are your kids, where are they being drawn from, who are your coaches, who are you playing against and which are your big games?"

"The Good Counsel and Gonzaga games were Prep's big games," he added. "That was the perception. [And] they continued to move up The Post's Top 20. Were [Georgetown Prep's] kids no longer challenged by playing in the IAC?"

"When your guys are going both ways, and [the Little Hoyas] are rolling out fresh players later in the game, it's hard to compete against," says IAC President and Bullis Head of School Tom Farquhar. (Jacqueline Malonson For The Washington Post)

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Dan Paro, Georgetown Prep's football coach and athletic director, disputed the notion that he de-emphasized league games.

"Ask any of our kids, our goal each year was to win the conference title," he said. "It was clearly our number one priority. As a coach, how do you best prepare your team for your conference schedule? By playing strong competition."

The Little Hoyas did not play an IAC football schedule from 1970 to 1981, after a similar winning streak spanning several seasons. Jim Fegan, Prep's coach and athletic director at the time, said he received a letter from St. Albans saying the Bulldogs were "picking up too many injuries" in their games with Prep, and another from Landon saying "they felt they could no longer compete." Both letters said they would no longer schedule Georgetown Prep, Fegan said.

Three decades later, the Little Hoyas were on a similar run. From 2000 to 2003, Georgetown Prep won four consecutive IAC titles, and was No. 1 in The Post's Top 20 ranking in 2002 after crushing conference opponents by 30, and sometimes 40 points, while often not yielding a single score. Over the 2001 and 2002 seasons, Georgetown Prep went 19-0 with nine shutouts -- six against IAC teams -- defeating opponents by an average score of 38-6.

"There's a lot of private school leagues that don't have a level playing field," Paro said. "That's why public school leagues are divided according to size of school."

The Little Hoyas' lopsided victories led to much hand-wringing at the highest levels of the IAC schools' administrations.

"There had been increasing concerns about parity," said one IAC athletic official who asked not to be identified. "It wasn't anything nasty, it was more like is school 'A' supposed to be playing school 'B?' It's a physical sport and that was a concern. There was a lot of huddling behind closed doors."

More meetings between IAC headmasters occurred during a two-week stretch in mid-November after the IAC was invited to merge with the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, a Baltimore-based private school league. Under the MIAA's proposal, Georgetown Prep and another IAC school would join the MIAA's A conference, the league's most competitive division. The other IAC schools would join the MIAA's less competitive B conference.

Schools in both the IAC and MIAA were having trouble filling out their football schedules with teams at their level of competitiveness, officials from both leagues said. A merger might solve that issue by increasing the pool of teams.

But the merger talks fell apart when Landon refused to go, according to IAC sources. Other IAC schools, another source said, balked at playing by MIAA regulations, which in some instances, permit athletic scholarships.

When the merger was tabled in late November, Georgetown Prep's ouster was official: The Little Hoyas were a team without a league. Georgetown Prep quickly accepted an invitation to join the MIAA's A conference.

"My feeling is that headmasters at the smaller schools in male population were driving the bus on this one," one IAC football coach said.

Meantime, Georgetown Prep alumni, IAC football coaches and others continue to wonder why the Little Hoyas won't be playing an IAC schedule next year. Rival Landon will not be on Georgetown Prep's out-of-conference schedule next fall, although the Little Hoyas will play St. Albans.

"This was definitely not my wish," St. Albans Coach Doug Boswell said of the ouster. "I think Prep added a lot to our league. We like their coaches, their kids and we respect the way they play."

Fegan, who coached Prep from 1961 to 1996 and still helps as an assistant, added: "We didn't beat too many people this year, did we? People say it's because we won too many championships. But if that was the case, Landon wouldn't be in the league for lacrosse and St. Albans wouldn't be in the league for baseball."

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