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The Final Whistle - Game Over

Bill McKee called it "just about the screwiest league break-up you could find." Most old-timers recalled that the reason behind it was Marion and Ashland were too big and winning too many championships. The usually straightforward McKee concurred with that opinion in his "Bull Pen" column.

In 1944 a new league was formed with the name "the Northern Ohio League." Their first meeting was held in Bucyrus Sept. 12, 1944. Bill McKee called it the "Northern jr." because an older Class B league with Wellington, Vermilion, Clearview, Medina, Amherst, and New London which was disbanding in 1944-45 had the same name.

The new NOHS League had Galion, Shelby, and Bucyrus playing in the NCO and the new league in 1944. Ironically three other members: Bellevue, Norwalk, and Willard were also playing in two leagues: the Little Big Four and the NOL. Upper Sandusky and Crestline were the other members. This league required only four games for a champion.

Before the 1944 football season Ashland's Arthur Gorsuch and Sidney Boyd, the NCO Vice President, made a one-day tour of seven NCO towns. The purpose of the 183-mile fact finding trip was to assess the next year for the NCO. They drove to Wooster, Mt. Vernon, Delaware, Marion, Bucyrus, Galion, Shelby, and back to Ashland. They found Mt. Vernon, Marion, and Ashland with hopes of maintaining the league. Bucyrus was a definite No. The others said they were considering it.

It was the practice in those times to schedule a year in advance and usually with a two-year home-and-home contract. As the schedules developed for 1945-46, familiar NCO opponents planned dates with each other. Bucyrus clearly avoided Marion, Mt. Vernon, and Ashland. Everyone looked toward the Nov. 14th NCO meeting at the Hotel Talbott in Galion for a resolution.

Throughout the history of the league flare-ups and incidents had affected the relations between different schools. Several have explained, "Oh, it was like a family feud. We got along with each other, but there was always a little spat." Such was the last year.

During the final football season Bucyrus had a down year. When Ashland creamed them 71-13, there were accusations of revenge for breaking up the league. Then their "friendly" neighbor and fellow NOL member Galion on Friday the 13th scored 13 touchdowns and beat them 84-0 in the worst defeat in NCO league history. The league co-champion Marion was merciful at 45-0. The other co-champ Galion ended up winning the NOL, too.

At the post season league meeting three schools: Ashland, Marion, and Galion voted to continue the NCO. Mt. Vernon was seeking to join the Central Ohio League. Shelby said they were considering the old league. Two weeks later the Yellowjackets announced they would be an independent for a year, and then be accepted into the Central Ohio League in 1946. Incidentally, when that happened they lost all seven football games and withdrew from the league the next year.

At the final NCO league meeting March 6, 1945 in Galion everyone realized that the 26-year old league was over. Spiv Harris in his "Sports Scraps" said that, "Bucyrus officials pronounced the death sentence in 1944 by prevailing upon two others to drop out and form a new league." While the schedules were mostly completed, an NCO championship was not in the picture. The only formality was to award the league basketball championship to Ashland and split the league treasury.

Ashland Principal Arthur B. Gorsuch was hailed by Bill McKee for his "tenacious" battle for one last compromise. He refused to let the league funds of $96.91 be removed from the treasury. Mr. Gorsuch called for one year of "suspended inactivity" for the NCOL. Mt. Vernon, Galion, Marion and Ashland voted for the suggestion. The Marion Star reported that the NCO was "on the shelf," but Galion was "on the fence." Still some held one last hope to revive the old conference.

While rumors that acting President Sid Boyd had contacted Wooster, and that Delaware was withdrawing from the older Central Buckeye, still every venture to revive the league failed. Ashland tried to hold one last unofficial event with their invitational track meet May 12th. They invited all the NCO schools. However only Galion and the "alleged unfriendly" Bucyrus participated in the event. Thus the NCO was laid to rest.