Middletown 19, Westminster 14

Westminster's Shawn Johnson scores the Owls' first touchdown. (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun / September 3, 2013)

Carroll County juniors will be able to participate on junior varsity teams beginning this winter sports season under new eligibility standards approved by Carroll County Public Schools.

Superintendent Steve Guthrie presented the new standards to the Board of Education Wednesday. Carroll had been one of five school districts in the state that did not allow juniors on junior varsity teams.

According to the new eligibility standards, juniors who are in their third season of eligibility in that sport may be granted permission to participate on junior varsity teams under three conditions.

First, cross county, wrestling, and track and field coaches will have the discretion to use juniors on junior varsity teams.

Second, a coach can request approval from the school athletic director and principal to use a junior on a junior varsity team if they cannot field a junior varsity team due to an insufficient number of eligible freshmen and sophomores.

Finally, a coach can request approval from the school athletic director, principal, and supervisor of athletics for "other special and unusal situations."

Although he does not need the board's approval to enact the eligibility requirements. Guthrie has previously presented the proposal to the board Sept. 11 asking for board members' input.

Guthrie said the school system has received "a number of emails" both for and against allowing juniors on junior varsity teams since proposing the idea.

Allegany, Baltimore and Howard counties, along with Baltimore City, also do not allow juniors on these teams.

Some of the districts that do allow juniors on junior varsit teams limit the number of juniors per team or have age restrictions on juniors on junior varsity teams, according to Jim Rodriguez, supervisor of athletics.

Carroll County Public Schools will be tracking data with these new standards to ensure they are working and to see if any adjustments need to be made, according to Rodriguez.