By TIM KOELBLE
11:08 PM EST, November 30, 2012
Clear Spring High School is making a move akin to a professional regaining amateur status.
Beginning in the fall of 2013, the school will no longer be a member of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.
Eric Michael, Supervisor of Health & Physical Education/Athletics for Washington County Public Schools, confirmed the decision in an email Friday.
Clear Spring athletic director Lisa Shives said the league was going to force the school to play football in its Antietam Conference next season, a prospect that made the decision to leave the conference much easier.
“We’ve dropped from the MVAL all around,” Shives said. “This will be of benefit to the athletes.”
Clear Spring was an independent in all sports until joining the MVAL in 2003, the same year the league merged with the Central Maryland Conference to create a three-division “superconference” that spanned Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties.
The move coincided with Clear Spring’s addition of football, which became a varsity program in 2004.
But the Blazers were never competitive against other conference teams in football. They won just three games in their first five seasons and were 0-for-31 against MVAL Antietam opponents, leading school officials to request permission to play an independent football schedule.
That request was granted following the 2008 season.
The move out of the MVAL is likely to save the school on travel while providing more flexibility in scheduling.
“We can control travel better,” Shives said. “It will become better for all our athletic teams. We likely won’t have any travels to Manchester Valley.”
Clear Spring is easily the smallest school in the Antietam Conference. The most recent MPSSAA enrollment figures show the school with 419 students in grades 9 to 11.
The other Antietam Conference schools include South Hagerstown (1,048 students in grades 9 to 11), North Hagerstown (1,042), Williamsport (745), Catoctin (740), Boonsboro (731), Smithsburg (627) and Brunswick (525).
“North and South have jumped to 3A, Williamsport has moved to 2A and Smithsburg and Boonsboro are getting bigger and we are not,” Shives said.
Shives said Clear Spring’s teams would continue to play Washington county schools in sports other than football.
Sports editor Mark Keller contributed to this story.
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