Eight teams in each classification (AA, A, B and C) -- double the number in years past -- will qualify for the Maryland state football playoffs this season. And with the end of the regular season fast approaching, state officials have outlined the seeding process for the November tournament.
"The winner of each region will be ranked first through fourth seeds, based upon their playoff points average," said Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association. "They would host all the playoff games, even if one of the at-large teams has a higher playoff points average. The semifinal-game hosts would be determined by their seeds."
On the weekend of Nov. 15-16, the No. 1 seed will play host to the No. 8 team, No. 2 will play No. 7, and so on. The semifinals will be held throughout the state Nov. 22-23 and the championships will be held at Byrd Stadium Nov. 29-30.
"The only chance that an at-large team could host a game would be if there are two upsets in the same bracket. Then the higher-seeded team would play at home," said Sparks. "It's also possible for two schools from the same county to play in the first or second round. The seeding criteria doesn't take geography into account. It all depends on ranking the regional champions and then their runner-ups according to their playoff points average."
The Metro Conference will hold its first football all-star game in 16 years on Thanksgiving Day at Good Counsel at 11 a.m.
Seniors from Carroll, McNamara, DeMatha, Gonzaga, O'Connell, St. John's, Ireton and Good Counsel will participate. Players from Ireton (which didn't play a conference schedule this season) and from the Nos. 1, 4 and 5 teams will face players from the rest of the league. The coach of the league champion will direct one squad and the coach of the runner-up will handle the other.
Players from Georgetown Prep and Pallotti, both non-Metro Conference Catholic schools, will also be invited.
The rosters will be picked by league coaches.
"We wanted to play this all-star game right after the season because that would allow us to best showcase our players," said Gonzaga Coach Mark Gowin.
Metro Conference players from Maryland schools will still be eligible to play in the Big 33 all-star game against Pennsylvania players, since NCAA rules allow scholastic players to participate in two all-star games. Similarly, Gonzaga, St. John's and Carroll players will be eligible for the D.C. all-star game in August.
Tim Britton is Seneca Valley's new baseball coach . . . Seven Maryland schools have been invited to the IAABO Holiday girls basketball tournament at Prince George's Community College, Dec. 26-28. Teams from Bladensburg, Blair, Mount Hebron, La Plata, La Reine, Old Mill and Seton will test their talent in probably the area's strongest girls tournament. H.D. Woodson from the Interhigh will round out the field . . . Thomas Stone tackle Bob Washington is one of the area's biggest high school linemen. At 6 feet 6 and 245 pounds, he is being pursued by such national collegiate powers as UCLA, Alabama and Notre Dame, as well as Maryland . . . High Point linebacker Greg Blanche has a broken leg and will miss the remainder of the season . . . Wootton tackle Ben Cowan will miss the last two weeks of the season because of a broken wrist. "He's one of the best linemen in the area," said Wootton coach Bob Hampton of the 6-foot-7, 220-pounder. "It's a real blow to our team not to have him, but I'm sure he will be nominated to play in the Big 33 All-Star football game and get other postseason notice."