Area football teams ready to kick off season with new divisionsWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Yaneek Smith, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
Northwest Ohio, much like the rest of Ohio, is not short on quality football teams.
Last season, the three Toledo area conferences fielded four playoff teams, including a state champion (Central Catholic High School) and a state runner-up (Whitmer High School).
With some luck, 2013 could shape up to be an even better year for some area football teams.
There were some changes made during the offseason to division formatting in Ohio high school football. After years of playing with six divisions, another division was added to make things more competitive. The new division breakdowns are:
- Division I – 608 or more boys (Findlay; Whitmer)
- Division II – 403 to 607 boys (Bowsher, Clay, Fremont Ross, Lima Senior, Start, St. John’s, St. Francis)
- Division III – 281 to 402 boys (Central Catholic, Rogers, Waite, Woodward)
- Division IV – 213 to 280 boys (Scott)
- Division V – 156 to 212 boys
- Division VI – 112 to 155 boys (Gibsonburg, Northwood)
- Division VII – 111 boys and fewer (Cardinal Stritch, Danbury, Edon, Hilltop, Ottawa Hills, Toledo Christian)
Three Rivers Athletic Conference
In the Three Rivers Athletic Conference (TRAC), one of the state’s best conferences, Whitmer and Central Catholic should fight it out for the top spot. The Panthers will be hoping to finally win that elusive state title and the Fighting Irish will try to repeat as state champions.
Findlay High School, which went 8-2 and just missed qualifying for the playoffs in 2012, will look to take the next step and win the league title. And St. John’s Jesuit High School, which struggled to a 4-6 mark last season, is hoping to rebound and compete for a playoff spot.
Clay High School, which welcomes new coach Mike Lee, has a loaded senior class and, after years of steady improvement, could be ready to take the next step and finish with 6 to 8 wins. Chris Hedden, now in his second season at St. Francis de Sales High School, will look to lead the Knights back to prominence after going 10-20 during the past three years.
Fremont Ross High School, which just missed making it to the playoffs two years ago, could be a dark horse candidate to make some noise in the league while Lima Senior High School has yet to win a game in the conference in the first two years.
In the City League (CL), Bowsher High School will look to repeat as conference champions after winning its first conference title since 1979. Last season, the Rebels, who were 6-4 overall, edged Start High School (5-5, 4-1 CL) 16-15 in the final game to win the league with a perfect 5-0 mark.
Rogers High School, which was 6-4 and 3-2 in the CL last season, hopes to return to top of the conference after a disappointing third-place finish last year. The Rams won the league title in 2011 and were hoping to repeat last season. Waite High School will be hoping to harness some momentum after winning its final two games last year. Scott and Woodward high schools round out the league.
Toledo Area Athletic Conference
The Toledo Area Athletic Conference (TAAC) returns two playoff teams in Northwood and Ottawa Hills high schools. Both teams lost in the opening round of the postseason last year, graduated a number of key players and are in something of a rebuilding mode.
Edon High School, which has won a combined 21 games during the past three years, could contend for the league title this season. Gibsonburg High School, led by junior quarterback Matt Tille, is another contender — or at the least could make some noise. Tille, a two-year starter, earned statewide recognition last season when he scored seven touchdowns in the Golden Bears’ 57-7 win over Cardinal Stritch High School.
Toledo Christian High School, which made it to the playoffs in 2010, will look to bounce back after two tough years while Danbury and Hilltop high schools will look to take the next step and move up in the ranks of the conference. Cardinal Stritch will look to rebuild under new head coach Brian Wical, who had success as an assistant with Lima Central Catholic during the past five years.