(10-5-19) This week four Northwest Ohio schools met to discuss forming an 8-Man Football Conference. The conference could solidify the direction for football in Ohio.
Toledo Christian (who played an 8-man schedule this season) and Stryker made the commitment to the new Northern 8 conference. Two others that showed a strong interest include Holgate (who played an 8-man schedule this season) and Danbury, but neither school would commit until a move ia approved by their Boards of Educations.
The developments of this current season led these schools to this point. It all started when five schools this year, all facing declining numbers, decided during the summer months to make the move to 8-man football. This led to some long and sleepless nights for ADs and coaches. Scheduling was the main problem, but there was also the public relations of selling players and fans on the change and concept of 8-man football.
The location of the five schools has caused some travel issues since they all come from different parts of the state…Ashtabula, the Toledo area, Sandusky and Zanesville. Some of the schools have also played (or will play) schools from Indiana and Michigan.
This is why schools want to have a solid foundation for 8-man football in the future –
Quotes from Toledo Blade story – Area schools establish Ohio’s first eight-man football league
Stryker superintendent Nate Johnson
“Today was another positive move for Stryker’s football program in teaming up with Toledo Christian to create a Northern 8 Football Conference for our prospective schools here. It’s a great move for our students.”
Toledo Christian AD Tim Wensink
“You have to have a foundation. You have to have something on the ground so that you can see it.”
“When you ask teams, ‘Hey, are you interested in eight-man football?’ they’re going to have questions. Now we have answers, and we can give them that. There’s a sense of security, and they can feel comfortable going to their board and other places.”
The new conference is looking for commitments to be verified by March of 2020 to help with next season’s scheduling. The OHSAA has not made any statements on the future development of the 8-man game, that could be a good thing. This will allow these schools to develop the 8-man game at a pace that fits each schools needs.
Three schools playing 8-man this season that were not at the meeting included, Ashtabula St. John, Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic and Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans. The key to continue the development of the 8-man game could depend keeping these three schools in the mix.
8-man football in Ohio seems to be moving forward….but the key could be in the number of schools that will make the move in the future. Handling the ups and downs during the early years of 8-man football and a strong commitment will be needed.
NOTE – Friday night Windham and Vienna Mathews played an 8-man game due to low numbers. It was Vienna Mathews 2nd 8-man game this season, they Ashtabula St. John in week one.
Stryker forfeited their game to Cardinal Stritch this past Friday night because of low numbers, They will play their second 8-man game of the season this Friday when they play Toledo Christian, they opened the season against Holgate.