The executive committee of the Virginia High School League decided on Wednesday to delay until December its vote on a redistricting plan that will decide the athletic futures of Loudoun Valley and Stone Bridge high schools.

The decision came as a surprise to the Northern Region's principals and athletic directors who voted less than a week ago to accept the VHSL's initial recommendation that the two Loudoun County schools be admitted into their region next school year.

Instead, the Northern Region is being asked to further explore a concept that would allow the schools to remain in the AA Dulles District during the regular season -- alleviating concerns about travel schedules and missed class time -- and then join the AAA Northern Region for the playoffs.

"There are already some combination districts in place, they work, and it seemed to be that the Northern Region turned its back on that idea altogether," VHSL Executive Director Ken Tilley said. "I think the executive committee was surprised and disappointed with that."

Policy Revisited

Howard County school officials will attempt to revise a policy for determining whether incoming ninth graders are academically eligible for extracurricular activities, said Don Disney, the county's coordinator of athletics.

Disney said county school officials will ask the Board of Education to require rising ninth graders to have at least a 2.0 grade-point average with no failing grades in the fourth quarter of the previous academic year, the same policy that is used for 10th, 11th and 12th graders.

Previously, rising ninth graders were required to have at least a 2.0 GPA in their final grades of five core classes and no failing grades in the fourth quarter.

The final grade is based on a student's performance in that class throughout four quarters, making it possible for a student to receive a "D" in the fourth quarter, but a "B" as a final grade.

A decision, which would go into effect next fall, won't be made until a Board of Education public forum in two weeks, Disney said.

Northern Wins SMAC

Junior Sam Hoffer's even-par 70 led Northern to a 15-stroke victory at the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference golf tournament at White Plains Golf Club.

Hoffer's teammates -- Kyle Niemann, Jeff Kingsbury and Pat Hibbon -- also carded rounds in the 70s to give the Patriots a cumulative score of 303, the same figure that gave Churchill the Maryland 4A/3A title last year. . . .

Senior Mandy Conlon converted a penalty stroke in the second half to cap No. 9 Oakton's 2-1 field hockey win over No. 2 Jefferson. The victory gave the Cougars (9-2, 3-1 AAA Concorde District) a chance to claim the top seed in the upcoming district tournament with a win over Herndon in their final district game. Jefferson is 12-1, 3-1. . . .

Bullis tennis player Amanda Rales lost for the first time in nine singles matches this season, 10-6, to Sydney Murray of Sidwell Friends.

Title Game Moves

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference will play its football championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Nov. 21 at 5 p.m., Commissioner Bob Hardage said. The game was played at Byrd Stadium the last two years but a scheduling conflict prevented a return engagement.

-- Angela Watts, Jon Gallo, Tarik El-Bashir, Alan Goldenbach and Ashton Williams