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Time to expand football is not now, Belinko says


Ron Belinko, president of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, does not dismiss the possibility of increasing the number of games played per season in all sports.

The issue of expansion -- long resisted by the state association -- was raised when Belinko addressed members of the Maryland Scholastic Football Coaches Association at their meeting at the University of Maryland.

The subject, the MSFCA's June 6 proposal to increase the football playoffs from eight to 16 games, involved establishing the first play date for the Friday before Labor Day (a week earlier than usual) and the first practice date 20 days before that (Aug. 13).

"I explained that their proposal was a step in the right direction, but the time for expansion in football just isn't right at this time," Belinko said. "I think they left feeling as though I had their best interests at heart."

Belinko, also the coordinator of athletics in Baltimore County, said Maryland high schools, in general, play fewer than the national average of regular-season games in all sports except football, which breaks even at 10 games.

For example, the state association allows 20 regular-season basketball games -- one below the national average. Maryland's baseball teams can play 18 games, which is far short of the number allowed nationally (26).

Soccer and field hockey (12 games) teams play four games fewer than the national norm, and volleyball teams (15) play three fewer than the national average.

Belinko called his response to the MSFCA "encouraging of open dialogue with the football coaches."

He explained the proper procedures for filing proposals, because the MSFCA's proposal incorrectly had been issued to the Belinko Commission, a panel chosen by and headed by Belinko to examine a change from the long-used playoff point system to an open state tournament for all sports except football.

Though the Belinko Commission has elected to introduce open state tournaments this fall in soccer and volleyball, Belinko informed MSFCA members the commission agreed to address the remaining sports later.

"We will eventually address those sports that were not in the Belinko Commission's final report, and I assured the coaches that their concerns for football and the concerns of others for other sports were not out of the question," Belinko said.

"I also filled them in on the procedures of the Belinko Commission and on the state association's procedures for filing proposals."

Proposals for any sport, Belinko said, must be the result of an open forum and a combined effort of the state's district chairmen for that sport.

Then, the proposal must be approved by the Belinko Commission, the MPSSAA executive council and the state association's board of control.

Stars of Baltimore

The under-14 Soccer Club of Baltimore Stars, recent winners of the Maryland State Cup title, is representing the state in this TTC weekend's Region I Tournament at Rider College and Princeton University in New Jersey.

The Stars (83-8-3) were winners of nine of 12 tournaments they entered during this year's indoor and outdoor seasons. They were State Cup champs for the third time in five straight championship-game appearances.

The team members are: forwards Frank Scarfield, Cam Letke, Brian Powell, Donnie Maney and Mike Duley; midfielders Steve Beverage, P.J. Wakefield, Mike Regulski, Brandon Thomson, Matt Joseph, Mike Schaeffer and Steve Adams; defenders Chris Patrick, Billy Nelson, Michael Brown and Tim Gober; and keepers Kyle Zimmer and Adam Huber.

Slo-pitch Slam

The Mid-Summer's Night Slam Amateur Softball Association-sanctioned men's double-elimination slo-pitch tournament will be conducted in northwest Baltimore County July 22-24.

The regional qualifying tournament, open to all class B, C and D teams, is sponsored by the Sports Closet of Timonium in cooperation with the Baltimore County Department of Recreation Pikesville District).

Team and individual trophies will be awarded to the first-place and runner-up teams in each class. In addition, the winner of each class will receive a paid berth to the ASA Maryland State Regionals later this year in Hagerstown and locations throughout Carroll County.

For more information and to register, call (410) 561-1707 or (410) 363-8610.

McDonogh update

After meeting with his assistants Tuesday, McDonogh's new football coach Dom Damico says he's ready to take over a program that went undefeated in the Maryland Scholastic Association's A Conference (now the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association) and finished as the area's No. 2-ranked team last year.

The Eagles were 9-0 last year under Mike Working, who resigned last month after three seasons and replaced Tim Perry at Mount St. Joseph.

Damico spent three years as an assistant at Temple University before going 22-22 in four years at Philadelphia's Cardinal Dougherty High, including 17-6 the last two years. The Cardinals reached the Philadelphia Catholic League title game the last two years, losing both times.

"It's not a situation where we're rebuilding so much as reloading," said Damico, who will stay with the run-and-shoot at McDonogh. "I've watched some films on the other teams and I'm trying to acquaint myself with the league."

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