After The Whistle
By Eric Frantz
Cardinals are only MAC school without a state title, Community/Admins deciding fate of football
Scott Keller had been beaten by a Midwest Athletic Conference team, but he’d never seen one of their stadiums.
New Bremen’s was the first.
It was July 2008 and Keller – the then head coach at Westfall High School – and I were headed north to Indiana to visit some college teammates for a couple days of summer haze. Keller was coming off a season in which his Mustangs squad had advanced to the Division IV state semifinals – and lost to Coldwater 55-14. The next week the Cavaliers went out and upset nationally-ranked Youngstown Mooney in the state final.
Our drive detoured purposely off 1-75 at Exit 102. The play? Left on State Route 274. The destination? MAC football stadiums.
Appropriately on the way to New Bremen, travelers have to pass the Inn Between Tavern in Botkins. Currently that’s exactly where New Bremen is on continuing football – and inclusion in Ohio’s premiere small school conference. Talk about giving up a seat at the table. New Bremen is considering it. The Cardinals might leave the MAC.
Soak that in.
The MAC’s football history is unprecedented. No small school conference in the country can compete with the affiliation. The MAC owns 30 state titles in football (most in Ohio) and 107 in all sports. That’s an average of 2.68 state championships per year since its birth in 1973.
Consider this though…MAC member Minster owns 27 state titles. Step foot into the neighboring district of New Bremen and the Cards own? Zero.
New Bremen is the only MAC school to not own at least ONE state championship in any sport.
Before you feel sorry for the Cardinals, they own the same lineage as a lot of Ohio high schools. The district’s had historic teams that have made lengthy postseason runs to the district and regional level. The results just haven’t been as consistent or impressive as other schools in the conference. And it’s hard to measure up in the MAC.
Example No. 1: New Bremen has reached the state football playoffs twice in history. They have two postseason wins.
Comparatively, five schools in the MAC own three or more state football titles. Delphos St. John’s has 52 playoff wins. Marion Local has 53. Coldwater? 55.
Here’s what we know. In addition to New Bremen, Fort Recovery and Parkway have also struggled as members of the MAC. This of course only relates to football.
Unlike New Bremen, both Parkway and Fort Recovery own four state titles each in various sports (including baseball, volleyball, girls basketball and cross country).
Even New Knoxville, the MAC’s lone (current) member that doesn’t field a football team, has a state title in boys basketball.
So…where do we go from here?
What’s the solution?
Here’s one. Or three.
You know what school is salivating over this potential pullout by New Bremen? Fort Loramie. And if there are Redskins supporters who aren’t…you should be. Think about it. Hard.
New Bremen drops football, but remains a MAC member in all other sports (i.e. New Knoxville).
If this happens, enter Fort Loramie. For football only. The Redskins just completed their first football season in the Northwest Central Conference, but don’t think they wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) jump at the opportunity to join the MAC in that sport. Loramie (like fellow Shelby County League member Anna) would be a perfect addition. Unlike Anna, Fort Loramie owns a lengthy postseason track record. The Redskins should garner some key non-conference wins and think of the gates….home and away. New Bremen could become like New Knoxville (compete in the MAC in all sports other than football). Know this though…if football leaves New Bremen, it’s going to be hard to bring it back. Ever.
New Bremen drops out of the MAC completely, keeps football and joins a new conference.
If that happens, the Cross County Conference could be the answer. That would give the CCC 14 teams in basketball and 11 in football. Not ideal for football, but the CCC could then do what the MAC does and have a revolving schedule where not everyone plays everyone annually. Instead each school would play eight CCC games. That would open up another non-league game and the opportunity for the conference to earn more playoff points Weeks 1-2.
New Bremen keeps fielding a varsity football team and nothing changes.
Easiest solution. Status quo. Remain in the MAC.
I’m proud to say I actually covered New Bremen’s last playoff football game for the Dayton Daily News. It came in 2004 in the Division VI Region 24 Final at Wapakoneta’s Harmon Field. I remember being impressed by the New Bremen tailgate parties (considering this was new for them) and by the level of play. That night New Bremen (ahead 7-0 at halftime) lost to Dola Hardin Northern 22-7. Hardin Northern would go on to win the state championship.
Jump ahead 10 years and suddenly both teams in that game are in danger of losing football all together. Hardin Northern postponed its varsity program this past season and played just a reserve schedule due to low numbers.
New Bremen is considering doing the same.
The MAC, however, is reportedly not interested in accepting the Cards jv-only offer.
Last Wednesday New Bremen administrators held a community-wide meeting at the high school to discuss the future of the program.
Nothing was decided. Football’s fate remains in limbo.
“We haven’t made the decision yet but that will be quick,” NB superintendent Howard Overman told the Dayton Daily News. “Our goal is to field a varsity football team and still remain in the MAC. Overall, (the meeting) went well.
“I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Overman is a football guy. He was New Bremen’s coach in the regional final and served in that position for 12 seasons. He’s a Marion Local grad and played collegiately at the University of Dayton.
Question is…How many in New Bremen share his passion?
Football is not easy. And neither will this decision be.