The six remaining teams (Ontario will leave after the 2016-17 school year) will join the Sandusky Ban Conference.
However, it won’t be made official until the respective school boards come to a decision. Norwalk City Schools will hold a board meeting on April 12 to finalize a decision. Willard also will vote on the issue at next month’s board meeting.
“There will be three divisions,” Norwalk Director of Student Activities Josh Schlotterer said. “Norwalk will be in the big division. There will be a couple of different formats for different sports. For football, we are looking at six teams for all three divisions. Norwalk, Perkins, Clyde, Sandusky, Tiffin Columbian and Bellevue will be in the big division. For all other sports, (Norwalk) will be competing in the big division and Shelby will be added to that and there will be three seven-team divisions.
The merger will take place beginning in the 2017-18 season.
“It’s sad to see the NOL dissipate,” Schlotterer added. “But with Ontario heading to the MOAC (Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference), Willard’s shrinking enrollment and them not being able to compete at a competitive level with the rest of the NOL, we were looking at a five-team league. We knew the SBC had some issues with their new format, we came together, we compromised and we found a formula that would fit all of the schools.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity. I think this is what’s best for our kids. We’re going to be playing against traditional rivals that we’ve played out of conference — Perkins, Huron, Edison and Clyde — all teams that we connect with when it comes to communities. I think this is a great opportunity for Norwalk and looking into the future. I think this is what’s best for our kids.”
Willard Superintendent Jeff Ritz said Willard will compete in the small division for football and the middle division for all other sports.
There will be three six-team divisions for football:
Big division — Norwalk, Sandusky, Bellevue, Perkins, Clyde and Tiffin Columbian.
Middle division — Edison, Huron, Port Clinton, Shelby, Oak Harbor and Vermilion.
Small division — Margaretta, Willard, Sandusky St. Mary CC, Fremont St. Joe, Tiffin Calvert and Lakota.
Three schools that do not have football will join in to make three seven-team divisions for the rest of the sports:
Big division — Norwalk, Sandusky, Bellevue, Perkins, Clyde, Tiffin Columbian and Shelby.
Middle division — Edison, Huron, Port Clinton, Vermilion, Oak Harbor, Margaretta and Willard.
Small division — Sandusky St. Mary CC, Fremont St. Joe, Tiffin Calvert, Lakota, Old Fort, New Riegel and Fostoria St. Wendelin.
“It will be based on enrollment,” Ritz said.
”I am very pleased with it. The thing I like about being with the smalls in football is we can be very competition and it will be good for all of the smalls. I think it is a great thing for high school athletics in the area.
“We’re disappointed about the NOL, but you look how things have evolved. ... The bigs kept getting bigger and the smalls kept getting smaller. Football drives conferences because it is a numbers game. You have to compete against like-size schools.
”I think this is forward-thinking by this SBC inviting us to come.“