Five decades have passed since the birth of the North Central Conference.
Founded in 1962, the NCC became a staple among athletic programs in Crawford County and its surrounding areas.
All that changes this fall. After 52 years, the NCC, like its neighbor, the Midland Athletic League, perished in order to give birth to the Northern 10 Conference.
Welcome to a new era — the birth of the Northern 10 Conference.
The N10 will rekindle old NCC rivalries and generate new ones. The league consists of former NCC schools Buckeye Central, Bucyrus, Crestline, Colonel Crawford, Wynford and Upper Sandusky; former MAL schools Mohawk, Seneca East and Carey; and Ridgedale of the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference.
The Rams will compete in the MOAC in football during the 2014 season, but all other fall sports will join the N10 immediately. Carey, Mohawk and Ridgedale were all former members of the NCC.
“I’m looking forward to the new league,” Bucyrus football coach Aaron Eckert said. “It’s always exciting when you get to play against people that you haven’t played in the recent past. A lot of the teams coming into the new league have a rich football tradition, and I think year in and year out there will be multiple teams competing to become league champs. I believe the new league will be very competitive this year, and a lot of teams have a chance to make some noise.
“When I (played) at Crestline, a lot of teams that are coming into the N10 were part of the older NCC, and I would always see those team’s names in the trophy cases. I think it will be good for the area as the league shifts geographically, and, hopefully, the turnout will continue to grow.”
Galion is the only Crawford County school not extended an invitation to the N10. It has joined the MOAC, leading to an interesting first-week matchup between the Tigers and the Redmen.
The longtime rivals will meet for the 116th time Friday night, keeping the tradition alive despite the recent conference realignments.
Also, the long rivalry between neighboring school districts Wynford and Mohawk will heat up this year, competing in the same conference for the first time in more than two decades. The teams have played ever since, filling the stands each and every fall.
“I think this will heighten the rivalry,” Royals coach Gabe Helbert said. “We have a great amount of respect for Mohawk’s football program. We have had some of the most memorable games of my career at Wynford against the Warriors.
“I believe that will only get better with a league win or loss on the line.”
The conference names, members and schedules may have changed, but one thing remains constant: Crawford County football fans are in store for plenty of excitement on Friday nights.
“The players are extremely excited about playing in the new league,” Eckert said. “They aren’t real familiar with the teams that were not in the NCC, but I think that’s what makes it fun for them.
“It will be a new challenge for them, and I know they still enjoy playing the local rivalries in Crawford County, and the team out west.”
Timeline of the NCC breakup and birth of the N10
October 2011 — The North Central Conference invited seven schools to attend and discuss the possibility of joining the league during its first year of expansion with Upper Sandusky and Galion.
Nov. 1, 2011 — Administrators from four North Central Conference and three Midland Athletic League schools, including Buckeye Central, Colonel Crawford, Crestline, Wynford, Carey, Seneca East and Mohawk, met at the Mohawk Community Center for an informational meeting on the possible development of a new league.
Dec. 1, 2011 — A statement was released to the Telegraph-Forum on the creation of the N10, which read, “The specifics of constitution, bylaws and operating procedures will be worked out in future meetings.” The member schools were named as Bucyrus, Buckeye Central, Colonel Crawford, Crestline, Riverdale, Wynford, Carey, Mohawk, Seneca East and Ridgedale.
Dec. 7, 2011 — North Central Conference president and Wynford principal Dave Dotson speaks out on the reasoning a large number of NCC schools broke off to create the N10, citing the NCC being unable to agree on an expansion solution, and the disparity among school sizes of the current Black Division and Silver Division breakdown.
Dec. 8, 2011 — A statement was released to the Telegraph-Forum by Galion principal Fritz Caudle, Ontario principal Jim Klenk and Upper Sandusky principal Jim Clifford expressing the schools’ disappointment of the collapse of the NCC during the first year of the league’s expansion.
April 22, 2013 — Riverdale’s Board of Education voted unanimously to accept an invitation to join the Blanchard Valley Conference.
April 23, 2013 — N10 president and Buckeye Central principal Jay Zeiter released a statement to the Telegraph-Forum about the league’s response to Riverdale’s decision: “As a result of the Riverdale Board of Education vote to join the BVC, the N10 will hold meetings in the near future to determine the course of action our league will be taking.”
June, 2013 — Upper Sandusky accepts an invitation to join the N10 and replace Riverdale after joining the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference along with Galion but must play football in the MOAC in 2014 before moving to the N10 for the 2015 season. All other fall sports will begin N10 play immediately.