What county pays the highest coaches' stipends in the state? The surprising answer isn't Montgomery or Prince George's, but Anne Arundel, whose remuneration system offers step increases every three years.

The sports are divided into three categories. Football, basketball and baseball are Class I sports, with a new coach in the classification making $1,908 his first three seasons. After 10 years, he would be paid $3,053.

Class II sports include wrestling, softball, outdoor track, soccer, gymnastics, lacrosse and volleyball. Class II sports pay from $1,548 to $2,442. And Class III sports like tennis, cross country, golf and indoor track pay from $1,145 to $1,832.

Assistant and junior varsity coaches make 70 percent of a head coach's stipend in Anne Arundel County.

By contrast, Montgomery County pays its coaches a flat rate (based on $7 per hour), regardless of experience. Football coaches make $2,534, cross country coaches earn $1,771 and field hockey coaches receive $1,491.

Stipends are lower in Prince George's County, where a football coach is paid $1,204, a cross country coach makes $611 and a volleyball coach $941.

"We recognize how good our coaches are and use this graduated stipend system to help compensate them better," said Paul Rusko, Anne Arundel County supervisor of athletics. "I don't think any of our coaches is overpaid. If anything, they more than earn their money because of what they do for and add to our school system."

Other jurisdictions have studied the Anne Arundel plan, but no other Maryland county has followed its lead.

"There's no question that this idea of paying experienced coaches more has real merit, but these stipends are negotiated settlements between the school board and the teachers union," said Prince George' County Supervisor of Athletics Chuck Brown. "The matter comes to money, though. I just wish we could pay our coaches as much as Anne Arundel does."

Two weeks ago there were several fights at Montgomery County night football games, including Whitman-Good Counsel and Wheaton-Seneca Valley. Apparently, none of these incidents involved students from those schools.

"There was an misunderstanding at the Germantown station about the Seneca Valley game and Chief (Bernard) Crooke has assured the schools that there'll be police coverage at all future Montgomery County football games," said police spokesman Officer Phil Caswell. "I'm not sure what happened at Good Counsel since that's a private school."

Nevertheless, Good Counsel asked that its game with Wheaton that was originally scheduled to be played at Good Counsel at night be played, instead, at Wheaton Saturday afternoon.

The Annapolis girls basketball team is seeking several January games . . . IAABO Board No. 134 is accepting applications for prospective basketball referees. If you live in Prince George's, Howard, Charles, Calvert or St. Mary's counties and seek additional information, contact Marty Melley at 9308 Cherry Hill Road, Apt. 507, College Park, Md. 20740 . . . The Pepsi Hot Shot basketball competition will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Beverly Farms Elementary School in Potomac. Open to boys and girls 9-18, this competition involves shooting from five designated spots from the floor. There is no charge.