If a redistricting plan proposed Tuesday is approved, a county high school scheduled to open this fall would have only a JV sports program -- creating holes in game schedules and headaches for some Howard County athletic directors.
Howard County Schools Superintendent John O'Rourke's proposal, one of five that will be voted on by the school board Jan. 24, calls for freshman and sophomore classes only during Reservoir High School's first year. A junior and senior class would be in place by the 2003-04 academic year, as students are promoted. The new Reservoir district would come from the Hammond, Atholton and River Hill areas.
Athletic schedules already have been made up to include varsity teams at Reservoir, so now some schools might wind up playing a game less, or will be scrambling to fill the void in their schedules. Additionally, the proposal would mean freshman athletes currently playing varsity won't have that option if redistricted to the new school.
Don Disney, county coordinator of athletics, has scheduled a meeting of athletic directors for Jan. 28 to work out any kinks.
"We're concerned," said Disney. "We knew there was a chance this could happen. Now it looks more certain. It won't be easy, and a number of varsity teams won't have full schedules. But we'll do the best we can."
Disney thinks the situation is more complicated than on the surface.
"We normally sign contracts with non-county schools for junior varsity and varsity games, so when our teams play Reservoir in a junior varsity game, the varsity teams will have to find games with schools that are willing to schedule varsity only. That's hard to do," Disney said.
Football will be the most difficult sport in which to find replacement games, because most leagues schedule their non-league contests for early in the season. That means some teams might wind up playing nine games instead of 10.
"Probably only about half the football teams will be able to find replacement games," Disney said.
Wrestling presents a different situation. Only varsity wrestlers can qualify for regional and state competition. So, freshmen now competing at the varsity level would be reduced to competing at the JV level with no postseason.
Some athletic directors, though, see positive in O'Rourke's proposal.
"It would allow Reservoir's football team to avoid getting beat up its first season like what happened at River Hill," said Mike Harrison, Wilde Lake athletic director and assistant football coach. "The schedule will need some revising, but it's not that big of a deal."
Howard athletic director Vince Parnell thought it was a good idea.
"It's surprising that someone is finally listening not to start with varsity teams," he said. "It will be hard for us to find a football game, though."
Long Reach and River Hill both opened in 1996 with a junior class and full varsity schedules.