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Gilman football coach Biff Poggi said Thursday he was disappointed that the possibility of a football merger between the MIAA and Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is off the table.

Poggi said Gilman supported the merger, which had been in an exploratory phase since December. However, talks with the WCAC will not be continued after the merger failed to receive unanimous support from A Conference programs at this week's annual MIAA athletic directors' workshop, according to Rick Diggs, MIAA executive director.

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For Poggi, whose team already has WCAC powers Good Counsel and DeMatha on its non-league schedule for fall, adding more competitive teams to the six-team A Conference was the big draw.

"We're just never going to get to a critical mass in the A Conference with the schools we have now and this was a really good reason to get it done," Poggi said. " I'm disappointed that whatever administrative or structural or political things that needed to be taken care of couldn't be taken care of. I don't know any of the facts. I don't know who said what, but I know at Gilman, we were a big supporter of it. It's too bad because I think it would have been one of the great high school football leagues in the country."

Scheduling is a difficulty the A Conference has struggled with because it is so small. Teams have to go outside the conference to fill half of their 10-game schedules.

"For Gilman, we're already playing the WCAC's top teams and for us it's a good fit," Poggi said. "The football is competitive and our record against DeMatha is 4-5 over the last nine years. And it's so hard to get games. I think it would be neat to have the leagues together and have a North Division and a South Division and have a playoff and a championship game. That's what I was hoping we were going to do."

Instead, the Greyhounds will play non-league games against Good Counsel, DeMatha, Archbishop Spalding, Malvern Prep from Philadelphia and Don Bosco Prep from New Jersey — last season's No. 1 team in USA Today as well as MaxPreps and Rivals Top 100 — in a game to be played at Morgan State.

No other team has so ambitious a schedule and Poggi said he isn't sure everyone wants one.

"Quite frankly, I think a lot of the coaches, they don't want to play DeMatha and Good Counsel and I think that we need to be playing them," Poggi said.

Without the merger, Poggi said teams will have to continue to travel to get such high-caliber competition. In recent years, the Greyhounds have traveled to northern New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia to play strong opponents.

"Travel is becoming more a part of it now and it makes it a lot harder," Poggi said. "A 40-minute trip down the highway to WCAC land is a lot better than what we've had to do."

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