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100 Years of Football in the Berea City School District


Following the relocation of the John Hay, John Marshall, and James F. Rhodes teams to the Senate, Garfield Heights elected to join the Eastern Conference in 1937. (Parma left the GCC to play an independent schedule beginning in 1935.) Suddenly Berea and Rocky River were in a bind—how can you have a league with only two teams? Luckily, they found a third member, a small school from Lorain county looking for a higher level of competition: Oberlin High. So a new (albeit small) loop was established: the Southwestern Conference. Yes, the same Southwestern Conference that is currently home to the Berea-Midpark Titans. But the thriving, competitive SWC of the 21st century had humble beginnings.

Upstart Oberlin won the first two titles in the new league, beating both Berea and Rocky River in all of their head-to-head games in 1937 and ‘38. Old friend Fairview was convinced to sign on in 1939, and the SWC became a four-team conference. This arrangement lasted for six years, through 1944. Berea won the outright championship in four of those six seasons: ’39, ’40, 41, and ’43, and tied with Rocky River for the 1944 crown. Oberlin regained first place in 1942.

The 1941 Berea team was especially strong, winning all of their games with the exception of a 20-20 tie versus Lakewood. That season-opening game at Lakewood was also the debut of the Rangers’ new stadium on Bunts Road. And in week two, BHS played the first game in a new Baldwin Wallace stadium on Bagley Road, shutting out Benedictine 32-0. That game marked the beginning of a shared stadium relationship with the Yellow Jackets that continues to this day. The seasons between 1928 and 1940 were the only years where the “back yard” field on Maple Avenue was the location for varsity games.

In 1945, the SWC welcomed Clearview and Wellington to the fold, and in 1947 it became an eight-team league with the addition of Amherst and Medina. But with the post-war housing boom bringing more residents to the Cleveland suburbs, Berea was rapidly outgrowing the other schools in the conference. So it was time to make another change. The Red Jackets ended their first term in the Southwestern with solid teams in 1947 and ’48, sharing the title with Oberlin in ’47 and finishing one game behind Rocky River in ’48.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Larry

    June 16, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    I Played in that game for Zaneville. triple ot game in cold sleet wind and snow ! I would like to talk to anyone that saw that game !

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