The Interstate Athletic Conference's six schools are considering a plan to join the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association for football in the fall of 2005, the leaders of both leagues said last night.

The MIAA's principals paved the way for a merger this week when they approved a rule change allowing the MIAA to admit schools for one sport only. The MIAA initiated the discussions between the leagues several months ago primarily because of their long-standing scheduling problems in football, particularly in the A and B conferences, which contain just five teams each. The IAC also has experienced scheduling problems in recent years.

"We cleared a major hurdle" with the rule change, said Rick Diggs, the MIAA's executive director. "We're hoping to hear something definitive from the IAC really soon."

Diggs said Georgetown Prep, Landon and St. Albans are candidates to join the more competitive A Conference while Episcopal, St. Stephen's/St. Agnes and Bullis would likely join the B Conference. The MIAA A Conference is composed of Calvert Hall, Gilman, Loyola, Mount St. Joseph and McDonogh.

"Achieving competitive balance while preserving the integrity and mission of our league has been at the forefront of all of our discussions," IAC President Joan Holden said in a statement. "Merging with the MIAA in football could be a viable solution that would allow us to meet our objectives."

Thomas Stone Waits It Out in Win

Junior Averill Butler's one-out single to right in the bottom of the 12th inning scored Aaron Jenkins as Thomas Stone defeated Arundel, 1-0, in a Maryland 4A East baseball quarterfinal. The teams played 10 scoreless innings Monday before lightning postponed play for a day.

Thomas Stone (14-8) will visit No. 5 Old Mill (18-4) today for a regional semifinal.

Ballew Boosts West Springfield

Junior midfielder Amy Ballew scored in the 74th minute to give visiting West Springfield a 1-0 victory over top-ranked and previously unbeaten Lake Braddock in a Virginia AAA Patriot District girls' soccer semifinal.

West Springfield (10-4-1) will play No. 6 Hayfield, a 1-0 winner over No. 10 Robinson, in Friday's district title game. Lake Braddock (8-1-3) will be the second-seeded team from the Patriot District in next week's Northern Region tournament.

Lake Takes Over at Osbourn Park

Osbourn Park named Potomac (Va.) assistant Bobby Lake the school's boys' basketball coach. Lake, who joined the Potomac staff in 1997, also served as Brentsville's boys' coach from 1992 to '97.

-- Tarik El-Bashir, Alan Goldenbach,

Rachel Zavala and Preston Williams