Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ohio's smallest football schools: How they fared

While much of the attention with the new divisional alignments for Ohio high school football will be focused on the larger schools, it never hurts to take a look at the other end of the spectrum as well.

In the debuting Division VII, many teams will take the field this fall with a new boys enrollment figure for their school of 50 or fewer. Obviously, not all of those students will be participating in the sport, so you have to give due to these teams who make do with what they have.

According to the new OHSAA figures, the smallest football schools in the state by enrollment are:

Vanlue: 30
Bellaire St. John Central: 32
Portsmouth Notre Dame: 35
Tiffin Calvert: 45
Beallsville: 46
Open Door: 47
Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans: 48
Dola Hardin Northern: 50

How they fared a year ago is included above, if applicable as an OHSAA team, with a link to that team's page on

What's striking is you would assume many of these schools would struggle with such small enrollments. Some did -  Vanlue is the smallest school with a football team in Ohio, and its lone win in 2012 was over fellow small-school Dola Hardin Northern in Week 10. Hardin Northern has a proud history that includes 12 playoff appearances and a state championship in 2004, but unfortunately last year was rough, going 0-10 and getting outscored, 498-32.

On the other hand, some fared very well under those circumstances in 2012.

Tiffin Calvert went 6-4 in the regular season and qualified for the playoffs in Region 22. The Senecas even won a regional quarterfinal, routing Norwalk St. Paul, before bowing out to McComb.

Bishop Rosecrans went 7-3 in the regular season and beat Symmes Valley in a Region 23 quarterfinal before having its season ended by Danville.

The point is, even with numbers limitations, there is no reason to assume Week 11 is too lofty of an aspiration. It is possible to win games in this state and pack a big punch with a small enrollment.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH


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