High schools face some realignment
Some move down in latest MPSSAA classifications
When the final high school classifications for the upcoming 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association were approved, there was very little movement among the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools in regards to classifications or region realignments.
But several changes that impacted the SMAC schools that did get reclassified caught the attention of several athletic directors and coaches from member schools.
Chopticon, which spent the previous two school years in the 4A East Region, drops back into the 3A South Region along with fellow SMAC schools Northern, Huntingtown, St. Charles and Great Mills.
North Point and Leonardtown remain in the 4A East Region, while Calvert, Patuxent, La Plata, Thomas Stone and Westlake comprise most of Section II of the 2A South Region along with Southern of Anne Arundel County. Lackey, however, drops from 2A to the 1A South and joins fellow SMAC school McDonough there along with several newcomers from Prince George’s County, Frederick Douglass and Friendly, which had been 2A schools.
‘Having Lackey in our region is going to make things tougher for us in some sports, like football,” McDonough athletic director Pam Van Bellen said.
“With Lackey and Douglass and Friendly now in our region, it will make it tougher for our football team to make the playoffs. But for some other sports like girls soccer and boys and girls lacrosse and softball, I think it helps our chances of winning the region title now.”
Lackey head football coach John Lush watched a bevy of talented seniors graduate and sign with NCAA Division I programs, but will still have at least a handful of quality starters back on both sides of the ball. Now the Chargers’ SMAC schedule will be against primarily schools that are larger, but they will have a clearer path to the postseason in the 1A South.
“We’re excited about the chance to continue our success and now we’re in a region where it should not be as much as a struggle just to reach the playoffs,” Lush said. “In 2A South, we had to deal with Patuxent, Calvert, Westlake in SMAC and then Gwynn Park and Douglass in Prince George’s. Now we’re in 1A and we still might have to face Douglass and Friendly, but it makes our path to the postseason a little easier.”
Like Van Bellen, Calvert athletic director Jason Cranford also viewed the classification changes and realignments — which did not impact his school considerably — as having its fair share of plusses and minuses. In some sports, especially lacrosse where there are now four classes instead of three, the Cavaliers might face a more level playing field in the postseason.
“Definitely in some sports, like lacrosse, we’re going to have a better chance to advance now,” Cranford said. “In the past we might have had to play some 3A schools or we were in a tough region for 2A, but now we’re in the same region with some Prince George’s County teams who just started lacrosse. In other sports, like football, we still have a tough road to the playoffs even though Lackey and Douglass move down.”
In 4A East, North Point and Leonardtown will be in Section II along with Annapolis, Broadneck and South River from Anne Arundel County. Northern, Huntingtown, St. Charles, Chopticon and Great Mills will comprise the teams in the 3A South Section II, while Lackey will join McDonough in the 1A South Section II.
WCAC makes some changes
The St. Mary’s Ryken High School football team will not play in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference this fall under Knights first-year head coach Aaron Brady, but the conference found an immediate replacement in The Heights, a Montgomery County all-male private school. The Heights will join the WCAC in 10 of the 13 sports that it offers.
“The WCAC is such a tough league,” Brady said. “We want to be able to take a look at what we have next season before we start playing a national schedule. [Former] coach [Jerry] Franks knows more about football than I’ll ever know, so there’s a lot of things he did that were really good the last five years. But next year we’re going to scale things back a little but and give me and the coaches a chance to evaluate what we have before we move forward.”
“Admittance to the WCAC is a real credit to our young men and coaches in the Upper School,” said The Heights athletic director Dan Lively. “Through their hard work and willingness to play challenging schedules, we were able to credibly present our athletic program as one that could meet the rigors of WCAC play.”
In fall 2018, WCAC football will have two divisions with each division having its own playoffs and championship game. SMR will compete in the Metro Division with Archbishop Carroll of Washington, D.C., and Virginia schools Bishop Ireton, Bishop O’Connell and Paul VI. The conference has no current plans to do this in other sports.