As is his habit, Seneca Valley Coach Fred Kim made exhaustive plans for his team in the days before its playoff game Friday. But, after a 38-20 loss to Westminster, Kim bemoaned at least one area in which his players were under-prepared:

Footwear.

On a cold, snowy night, Kim said his team played on a field so frozen it resembled AstroTurf. Seneca Valley played in traditional cleats, and players slipped often; Westminster, familiar with its own field, wore basketball and tennis shoes that provided much better results.

"The field was just so slick that our kids had a lot of problems," Kim said. "I guess it's a home-field advantage type of thing, but that made a pretty big difference. We had trouble with our footing, and that hurt us."

Damascus Coach Dan Makosy watched his team struggle similarly while it warmed up before a 21-14 win over Quince Orchard in the Maryland 4A West Region Final on Friday night, so the coach sent a handful of players to the locker room with an unusual request: find tennis shoes.

Top-ranked Damascus wanted every advantage it could get on an icy field. Some players felt they had better footing in sneakers, Makosy said, so the coach left it up to each player to individually decide which shoes to wear.

"On the dirt, the tennis shoes were a little better," Makosy said. "On the grass, the cleats were a little better. . . . Quince Orchard saw us, and they were trying to get shoes for some of their players. They had some of their fans in bare feet on the track."

At least one area team exhibited a little more forethought. Stone Bridge placed a tarp over its field in the days preceding the Virginia AAA Northern Region Division 5 final, and neither team slipped.

"We had the best traction we had all year," said Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson, whose team beat Edison, 29-21. "The conditions weren't great, but our field really was."

-- Eli Saslow and Josh Barr

After watching his team struggle with its footing during warmups on Friday, Damascus Coach Dan Makosy sent players to find tennis shoes.