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 High School Athletic League.
When we left off with this series last week Circleville had claimed the SCOL’s first team state championship in golf in 1951 and the SCOL was in the midst of a period of tranquility. But Maple reported that in 1957 a time of crisis struck.
In January of that year Washington C.H. sent a letter to the SCOL stating that it intended to leave the league for the Mid-Six League, which was expanding to eight teams and would give WCH more security in scheduling.
That started a flurry of action by the SCOL and its schools.
About the same time, a new district with three high schools was forming in southwestern Franklin County consisting of Franklin Heights, Pleasant View and Grove City. Franklin Heights and Pleasant View were invited to join the league, and in light of that development, on March 6, 1957, WCH announced it had decided to remain in the SCOL.
Franklin Heights was admitted into the league in the fall of 1958 and the following fall Pleasant View entered the SCOL.
But league expansion did not stop there. On Dec. 16, 1959, Miami Trace, a school district encompassing most of Fayette County except Washington C.H., was admitted as the eighth member of the SCOL.
Maple reported from that 1957 to 1964, when his history of the league ends, the SCOL experienced a pinnacle of prestige. He said league schools were competing against teams from Cincinnati, Hamilton, Dayton, Toledo, Springfield, Columbus, Newark, Marietta, Portsmouth, and other athletic strongholds throughout the state, in football and basketball.
In 1962, five SCOL athletes were named to the All-Ohio football team, including middle guard Will Parr of Hillsboro.
McClain won four straight football championships from 1957-60, including beating the Columbus City League champions, Columbus Eastmoore, in 1958 and 1959. McClain won the 1958 game 24-6, then the next season both teams entered the final game of the 1959 season undefeated. With 90 seconds left in that game the score was knotted at 8-8 when McClain intercepted a pass that gave the Tigers a 14-8 victory and retiring coach Paul Orr an undefeated season.
In 1964, Fred Cluff of Hillsboro was named All-Ohio in basketball.
Following the 1964 spring sports season, Franklin Heights and Pleasant View withdrew from the league to cut down on travel, but they had given the league to a two-year notice so it was not a surprise.
Maple broke down the status of the athletic facilities of the SCOL schools at that time and had this to say about Greenfield and Hillsboro:
Greenfield – Beautiful and spacious McClain Field in Greenfield has the most adequate track and field facility of the region having a 220-yard straightaway and hard-surfaced areas for all field events. Permanent bleachers and a new fence were built in 1959 with the improvements being financed in part by bonds sold for this purpose by the athletic department. Cost of the improvements at the school during the past five years, including a complete renovation of the swimming pool, have been in excess of $25,000.
Hillsboro – Improvement of athletic facilities is at an all-time peak. With the passing of bond issue for $937,000, work is now in progress which will include a new gymnasium, dressing rooms and added physical education areas. The gymnasium is expected to be completed for use during the 1965-66 SCOL season. Also, the boosters club and the school’s athletic department have sponsored a drive to raise $14,000 to add permanent seats at Richards Memorial Field. They will be in use for the 1964 season. The school also uses city recreation facilities for baseball, tennis and golf.
In looking at the SCOL’s future, Maple said four or five newer consolidated schools in the league area – Paint Valley, Blanchester, Clinton-Massie and Teays Valley – were growing and had been considered by the SCOL for membership. Studies of consolidating some Ross County schools was also being considered, and Maple said that within the next five years that could produce one or two larger schools near the center of the SCOL area.
“So,” Maple wrote in closing, “expansion of the league is not a necessity and it will come again in due time. The SCOL is one of the most active smaller leagues in the state and promises to turn out more than its share of well-rounded athletes in future years.
“The league will continue to grow with increased, modernized facilities, and the future of the SCOL is as promising as the fruitfulness of her past.”
Next week we’ll take a bit of a different look at the SCOL from 1964 to the present.
Footnote: I received a letter from Hillsboro resident Vernon Garrison this week asking me to check out the 1952 Hillsboro High School football team. He said the only team Hillsboro lost to that year was WCH. He said that according to the late Norman DeHaas, the night the teams played there were 7,000 to 8,000 people in attendance – so many that Hillsboro had trouble getting back on the field after halftime.
Mr. Garrison, who said he was an All-SCOL left guard, said Hillsboro’s Joe Cole ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, Hillsboro trailed by 10 or so points, but then “we lost big time.”
Garrison said WCH scored more points against Hillsboro that night than the Indians gave up the rest of the season. He also said WCH had two running backs that night who had graduated the year before, which was legal at the time, but the rule was changed the following year.
Garrison said one of the WCH running backs was Carl Smith, who set SCOL records that still stand today.
So I did a little checking.
According to Paul Maple’s book, Hillsboro was, indeed, the SCOL runner-up in football that year. It says Hillsboro lost to WCH 60-0, that the Blue Lions finished 9-0 that year, recorded six shutouts and allowed just 26 points for the season, most them coming in a 38-13 victory over Xenia Central, the Blue Lions’ closest game that year.
Maple’s book says that Carl Smith was a senior during the 1952 football season at WCH when he led the state in scoring with 294 points and was a first-team All-Ohio selection.
The book also says WCH finished ranked sixth in the state in the final Associated Press poll that year (that was among the largest schools in the state) and that its games scores were: WCH 59, Linden McKinley 0; WCH 38, Xenia Central 13; WCH 81, Monroe 0; WCH 46, Greenfield 0; WCH 60, Hillsboro 0; WCH 77, Wilmington 6; WCH 59, Dayton Kiser 0; WCH 32, Bexley 0; and WCH 55, Circleville 7.
Maple’s book lists most of the All-SCOL football teams from 1938 to 1963, but the years 1940, 1941, 1942, 1952 and 1962 are missing.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.