Schools from the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference were hit hardest when the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Board of Control released its semiannual regional realignments Saturday, though schools from nearly every county were affected by the reshuffling.

With Patuxent, Thomas Stone and Great Mills moving from Class 3A's South Region to the 4A East, where they will be joined by eight teams from Anne Arundel County, SMAC schools no longer are guaranteed berths in the state semifinals for various sports.

For the past two years, the 3A South Region had been composed entirely of SMAC teams.

"In some sports where we haven't traditionally been strong it's given us a chance to have teams win the regional title and go to the state playoffs," Northern boys' basketball coach Rick Weber said. In the SMAC, Lackey also moved up from Class 2A South to the Class 3A South, in which eight SMAC schools are joined by three Anne Arundel County schools that previously had been in the 3A East: Annapolis, Northeast and Severna Park.

Four Montgomery County schools were affected by the realignment.

Blake and Richard Montgomery moved from 3A to 4A, and Wheaton and Bethesda-Chevy Chase moved from 2A to 3A, meaning the Barons' 12-time state champion field hockey team would have to get past 13-time state champ Severna Park.

Five Prince George's County schools moved, with Bladensburg and Surrattsville moving to 3A from 2A and Crossland dropping to 3A from 4A. The county's lone 1A school, Forestville, moved up to 2A, and Friendly moved down to 2A.

One team each from Anne Arundel, Howard and Frederick counties were affected by the changes. South River became Anne Arundel County's eighth 4A school, while Frederick High's move down to Class 3A leaves Thomas Johnson as Frederick County's lone 4A school. However, Thomas Johnson changed regions, from the Anne Arundel County-dominated 4A East to 4A North, with teams from Baltimore County, Baltimore City and Carroll County.

Centennial became Howard County's fifth 3A school, moving up from Class 2A.

Newly opened Reservoir High in Howard County will be classified as a 2A school next year, and soon-to-open Tuscarora High in Frederick County will be a 1A school.

Mason Commits to Illinois

Georgetown Prep All-Met running back Marcus Mason orally committed to Illinois on Monday.

Mason, who led the top-ranked Little Hoyas to their third consecutive Interstate Athletic Conference title and is Maryland's all-time leading rusher with 5,662 yards, said he chose the Fighting Illini over Pittsburgh, Michigan, Virginia and Maryland.

Illinois "said they wanted me to play next year, and the other schools already had a lot of depth at running back," said Mason, who rushed for 1,498 yards on 180 carries and scored 29 touchdowns this season. . . .

Stonewall Jackson will not renew the contract of football coach Jim Powell, whose 26-year tenure was among the longest active football coaching stints in the Washington area.

Powell's career mark is 140-125-4 at the Manassas school, including 0-10 in 2002 and 14-36 the past five years. The Raiders reached the Virginia AAA Division 5 playoffs five times from 1991 to 1996.

Correction

A caption in Sunday's editions incorrectly identified a South Lakes football player. The player was Joe Bleich.

Staff writers Tarik El-Bashir, Jon Gallo, Angela Watts and Preston Williams contributed to this report.

Big time: Georgetown Prep All-Met running back Marcus Mason, Maryland's all-time career leading rusher (5,662 yards), orally committed to Illinois.