For the past few years, Jerry Franks has been advocating an expanded format for the Maryland public high school football playoffs without success. Now in his third season as coach at Calvert, Franks believes his team is providing an example of why the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association should allow more than 32 teams -- eight in each of the four classifications -- to qualify for the playoffs.
Friday's 31-14 victory over McDonough improved Calvert to 7-2, the Cavaliers' most victories in one season since they started playing football in 1963. However, because of the strong Maryland 3A competition and a relatively weak schedule, Calvert has almost no chance of qualifying for the playoffs. The Cavaliers are 12th in the 3A standings, and likely would not make the playoffs even if they beat winless Leonardtown in their season finale. In 1985, the MPSSAA expanded the playoffs to its current system, which allows the top eight teams to qualify for the playoffs.
"It is very, very frustrating," said Franks, former president of the Maryland Football Coaches Association. "At 8-2, we should be in there."
In Maryland, schools are grouped into four classifications based on enrollment. For football, teams accrue "power points" based on the classifications of the opponents they beat (the bigger the enrollment, the more points a victory is worth) and how many victories those teams have (one point per victory).
In Calvert's case, the Cavaliers are hurt because their two nonleague victories were over Blake and Southern, Maryland 2A teams with one victory each.
Similarly, Central of Prince George's County is 7-2 and has matched the school record for victories in a season. But the Falcons have almost no chance of qualifying for the playoffs in 2A, in which 11 teams are undefeated or have one loss.
No. 20 Northwest is 8-1 -- its only loss was to top-ranked Seneca Valley -- but still needs to beat Bethesda-Chevy Chase on Friday and get help in order to make the 2A playoffs.
"I think it would be a shame if we didn't get in," said Northwest Coach Randy Trivers, whose school opened in 1998. "We just want a chance to show what we can do."
River Hill (7-2), in its fourth year, is another team on the outside looking in for a 3A playoff berth. The Hawks host Howard on Saturday, but even with a win they are unlikely to make the postseason.
Franks is one of several coaches pushing for Maryland to expand the playoffs to 16 teams per classification or add classifications for football, similar to what the Virginia High School League does. In Virginia, Groups AAA, AA and A each are divided in half for the playoffs.
Rested and Ready
Maybe Eastern Coach Burnell Irby will rethink his practice philosophy. Irby held star running back Lawrence Wade out of practice last week to "keep him from getting pounded on." Wade responded by scoring seven touchdowns and rushing for 270 yards on 25 carries in a 55-0 victory over Spingarn on Friday.
Eastern plays at No. 15 H.D. Woodson on Saturday to decide the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association East Division title.
"Before the big game next week, he needed to carry the ball a lot," Irby said of Wade. "Twenty-five carries is not a lot, but it's enough to get his tongue hanging out." . . .
Three running backs entered the 300 Club this past weekend. All-Met Rayvon Johnson rushed for 336 yards and five touchdowns in No. 4 Annapolis's 41-24 victory over North County. Northwest's Raymond Custis, who has verbally committed to Maryland, rushed for 302 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-14 victory over Richard Montgomery. Einstein's Umar Ferguson had 347 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-6 victory over Walter Johnson. . . .
Johnson's numbers were not the only impressive ones from the Annapolis victory. In a losing effort, North County quarterback Mike Pfisterer set Maryland single-game records with 38 completions in 58 attempts. Wide receiver Nat Randall had 22 catches, breaking the state record of 21 set earlier this season by Old Mill's Jason Galloway.
Randall's numbers fell short of national records set Friday by Jeff Clark of Nitro, W. Va.. He had 29 catches for 413 yards in a 37-8 victory over Roane County.
Meanwhile, Old Mill Coach Mike Marcus said he expects to learn today the results of an MRI exam on Galloway's knee. Galloway suffered medial collateral ligament damage and possibly anterior cruciate ligament damage in a 24-18 victory over North County on Oct. 23.
Old Mill, which has won seven consecutive games, plays at No. 16 Severna Park on Friday to decide the Anne Arundel 4A title. A victory would secure the Patriots' first playoff berth since 1991. . . .
Also on the record-setting front, North Stafford quarterback Chris Ashinhurst broke the Virginia AAA record for passing yardage in a season by throwing for 318 yards Friday in a 56-21 victory over James Wood. Ashinhurst, a senior, has passed for 2,635 yards this season, eclipsing the mark of 2,577 set by Hampton's Ronald Curry in 14 games in 1997. The Virginia record for passing yards in a season is 3,014, by Handley's Brian Partlow in 1994.
On the injury front, two of the area's top players, Thomas Stone All-Met running back Marcus Whalen and Dunbar quarterback Josh Cribbs, should return from injuries to play in key games this week.
Resting a sprained ankle, Whalen only played on kickoff returns in the No. 14 Cougars' 32-8 victory over Leonardtown this past Friday. Thomas Stone Coach Rich Callahan said Whalen will be ready to play Friday against No. 13 Westlake.
Cribbs, who has missed several games because of a fractured bone in his leg, is expected to return for the Crimson Tide's game Friday against Wilson to decide the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association's West Division title. Cribbs' backup, Michael Coles, completed 13 of 15 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns in a 50-0 victory over Theodore Roosevelt on Friday. . . .
DeMatha linebacker Mikaal Baaqee has verbally committed to Virginia Tech, Stags Coach Bill McGregor said. With its 41-14 victory over O'Connell on Saturday, third-ranked DeMatha clinched the top seed in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs. . . .
Urbana quarterback Zack Mills passed former Arundel quarterback Erik Lipton as the state's all-time leading passer among public schools in the Hawks' 21-7 victory over Thomas Johnson. Mills, who has committed to Penn State, has passed for 4,818 yards.
Staff writer Preston Williams and news services contributed to this report.