When Dundalk High released its 2019 football schedule last month, I thought there was a mistake. Or that I was missing something.
Games against Century, Concordia Prep (once known as Baltimore Lutheran) and Douglass of Prince George’s County? Three non-league/non-county games? Seemed odd.
No games against Milford Mill, Parkville, Catonsville or Dulaney? Even odder.
Hold on — three non-county games ... six county games ... equals nine. There’s a game missing.
Dundalk plays road games against Century, Franklin, Kenwood and Perry Hall, and hosts Concordia Prep, Douglass-PG, Woodlawn, Towson and Patapsco.
Woodlawn and Towson? They’ve been in Baltimore County Division III the past two years. Guess the county is re-structuring the divisions.
But I still needed to know: where is the 10th game?
Turns out, there is no 10th game.
Starting this fall, Maryland public high schools will play a nine-game schedule. The reason: expanded playoffs.
(Actually, it still needs final approval. But they’ve released nine-game schedules.)
Instead of the top four teams in each region advancing to the postseason, the top eight teams will qualify.
Which, thanks to the unyielding nature of the calendar, means dropping a regular-season game. Can’t begin the season any earlier, and there isn’t much support for playing the state championship games right before Christmas.
So, in the Class 1A South Region, all eight schools make the playoffs. In Class 2A South, all but two teams will make the playoffs.
Sparrows Point is now in Class 2A North, which has 13 schools. But Carver A&T does not field a football team. Class 3A North, which contains Dundalk and Patapsco, has 13 schools and they all have football program.
Milford Mill has dropped down to Class 2A North, hence the Millers being dropped from Dundalk’s schedule.
In addition to Dundalk and Patapsco, Class 3A North is defending state champion Franklin, Hereford, Kenwood, Towson, Woodlawn, City, Poly, Aberdeen, Bel Air, C. Milton Wright and Edgewood.
For the Owls, last season’s Class 3A North top seed, the season tension won’t come from trying to make the playoffs, but fighting for a high seed in what will now be a three-round tournament.
Patapsco, by the way, plays Western Tech, Lansdowne, Sparrows Point, Kenwood, Towson, Woodlawn, Pikesville, Dundalk and Loch Raven.
I couldn’t find the new divisional lineup on the county web site, so I guess it has yet to be released.
As part of the new proposal, teams that don’t make the regional playoffs will have a “consolation game” against another non-qualifier, so everyone gets at least 10 games.
I’ll share my thoughts on all of this in a future column.