Wasn't the 0-0 tie between Severna Park and Centennial in the 3A-4A girls soccer state championship game symbolic of the open tournament concept?
Under the open tournament, all teams get in no matter what their records are, and in soccer, it's possible in the state championship game that everybody wins.
Can you believe the state flipped a coin before the Severna Park/Centennial game to see who would go home with the plaques engraved "state champions?" Severna Park won the coin toss and left with the "state champion" plaques while Centennial received the plaques engraved "state finalist."
With the all money ($4 admission) the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association makes on the tournaments, shouldn't it spring for new plates for the plaques so that both sides have "state co-champs" on their awards?
Settling state soccer championships by a shootout (penalty kicks by full sides) seems unfair, but at least you have a winner. Centennial's Lauren Molinaro said it best, "I would rather have lost than tied."
After all when a team plays 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods and nobody has scored, change is in order. Without making drastic changes in the sport of soccer, why couldn't each team be allowed one penalty kick at the end of each half and overtime period?
The penalty kicks would continue until, after an equal number of turns, one of the teams has a one-goal edge. It would increase scoring and practically eliminate ties.
Tackling the statistics
Moving onto football, tackle statistics reported by some coaches nominating their players for postseason honors are causing a stir in the coaching fraternity where at a recent gathering tempers flared.
Arundel (10-1) and Chesapeake (4-6) offer a case study on the subject.
Arundel had three players who averaged 12, 10 and nine unassisted tackles or first hits per game. Now that means three guys on an 11-man unit were involved in 31 tackles a game. The average number of offensive plays run in a high school game is about 40-45, so what are the other eight players doing out there?
That is not to take anything away from Arundel because the Wildcats truly had the county's best public school defense -- yielded a county-best 12.3 points per game in 11 outings -- and had a host of outstanding individual players. Whoever is keeping the team's defensive stats is obviously being very generous when counting tackles.
Ditto Chesapeake, a team that gave up 18.2 points a game, but had two players averaging 11 unassisted or first hits a game for a total of 22 tackles between the two.
Some coaches don't like to keep tackle totals because a volunteer, such as a parent or somebody's girlfriend, would have to do it and have a tendency to embellish the totals. Reviewing game films may be the only true way.
Do you realize that for the first time since 1991 Anne Arundel County did not have a 2,000-yard passer, but there was more passing than ever before?
North County boasts four 2,000-yard passers since Johnny Ray became the first county quarterback to crack the milestone in 1990 with 2,020, and Broadneck's Sean Ryan threw for 2,048 in 1993.
Earl Sewell of state champion North County led four passers (three 1,000 or more) with 950 yards or more last year with 2,237 yards in 12 games.
Several county coaches promised to throw more in '95 and were true to their word with Arundel's Erik Lipton (1,892) heading up a record eight passers who threw for 700 yards or more and two St. Mary's passers, Ryan Metzbower and Kevin Grace, combining for over 1,100 yards.
* Meade's Willie Thomas (WR-DB) knows first hand the old sports axiom that good and bad plays often even out over the course of a season. Thomas caught the last-minute, game-winning 84-yard touchdown pass from Malwan Johnson in the Mustangs' 14-7 quarterfinal upset of Arundel when Brian Bayne slipped and fell.
In Meade's first loss of the year by 14-12 to Mervo, Thomas slipped and fell down on defense on the game winner.
* Not including Severn's first-year coach John Beckman (7-3), only five active county football coaches with three or more years have winning career records: Chuck Markiewicz, North County (70-27, .722); Brad Best, St. Mary's (45-25, .643); Bill Zucco, Arundel (27-15, .643); Roy Brown, Annapolis ( 45-28, .616) and Andy Borland, Severna Park (134-99, .575).
* St. Mary's Tara Foran, a standout in basketball and lacrosse, has signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Rutgers. Foran, ranked No. 4 in her class and recipient of the Wendy's Award for top female student-athletes, chose Rutgers over William and Mary, Loyola, Georgetown, Virginia Tech and George Mason.
* County public school athletic directors have voted to award only one All-Sports Trophy at the end of the high school year. In the past, there were two -- one for 4A schools, one for 2A-3A -- for the schools with most championships, etc. for the year.
The advent of North and South divisions (merging of big and small schools) with the winners meeting for county championships prompted the single trophy.
* A Charley Eckman book party will be held Dec. 14 at Kaufmann's Restaurant in Gambrills. The Kaufmann brothers, Billy and Dave, will play host to the sale of Eckman's book by author Fred Neil. "It's a Very Simple Game," the late Eckman's life story, was recently released.