South Central Ohio League re-forms

Jeff Gilliland

Jeff Gilliland

Editor’s Note: This is an ongoing series on the history of the South Central Ohio League as penned in Paul Edwin Maple’s 1964 seminar paper “A History of the South Central Ohio High School Athletic League.”

When we left this story last week the South Central Ohio League had completed its first years of existence from 1924 to 1931, then disbanded following the league track and field meet that last year.

The disbandment only lasted until 1936, but there were some interesting developments during the years in between, most notably the improvement of athletic facilities.

The first night football game in the area was played in 1931 when Washington C.H. visited Xenia. In 1934, Washington C.H. participated in the first night game in Hillsboro at what was called the “old pump station field.”

In 1936 Washington C.H. started playing its night games at Gardner Park, where it still plays nearly 80 years later.

In 1933-34, Hillsboro changed its athletic teams’ nickname from Cowboys to Indians, the same year Greenfield changed from the Yellow Jackets to the Tigers.

By the arrival of the 1936 season, four of the former league members decided to reorganize the SCOL. Representatives of Hillsboro, Greenfield, Wilmington and Washington C.H. met on Sept. 30, 1936 in Greenfield and the league was revived. It continued without interruption for 57 years.

Some schools still did not have lights, so it was left up to the individual schools to decide if football games would be played in the daytime or at night. Greenfield played its first night game at Lockland on Sept. 25, 1936, losing 35-0, but then successfully dedicated its new lights at McClain Field on Sept. 17, 1937 with a 41-0 rout of Wheelersburg.

For the 1936-37 season, the SCOL decided to add a reserve contest before each varsity basketball game.

In the spring of 1938, all four SCOL schools fielded tennis teams and at least three had baseball teams.

In the fall of 1938, Greenfield went undefeated in football and fullback Carl Grate scored 145 points that season. That total was second in the state, trailing the leader by a single point.

Circleville rejoined the SCOL for the 1939 football season.

Junior high football was added to the league slate in 1938 with Washington C.H. and Greenfield fielding the first teams.

World War II had a huge impact on high school athletics. In fact, the Ohio High School Athletic Association considered dropping all its postseason tournaments because of tire and gas rationing. But federal officials, including the president, urged athletics to continue and even be expanded as a war defense measure. But that didn’t solve issues schools were facing.

In 1942 the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation forbade the use of school buses for the transportation of athletic teams and in that same year it was estimated that 150 Ohio schools were without coaches, since many had left to serve in the war.

In the fall of 1943 the Office of Price Administration permitted a supplemental rationing to coaches and faculty managers for gas up 480 per miles for use in driving related to their occupations. Then on Sept. 1, 1945, the order prohibiting bus use for athletics was lifted.

Seeking to reduce its travel, Chillicothe rejoined the SCOL in 1944 for basketball only. It left the league in 1947.

The years following World War II brought a period of relative tranquility to the SCOL, except for an extended discussion at the end of the 1949 league meeting. Washington C.H. announced it was severing ties with Hillsboro for all athletic contests after heated differences arose between the schools as the result of an injury during an athletic contest, with accusations that the injury had not been completely accidental. Eventually, the two schools agreed to a one-year cooling off period, and the SCOL played the 1949-50 season without WCH and Hillsboro meeting in any sport. But the school worked out their differences and resumed playing each other the following season.

In 1951, Circleville became the first SCOL team to claim any state title, winning it all in golf.

Next week, a time of crisis strikes the SCOL in 1957.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.

Jeff Gilliland Gilliland